Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

The Interview Questions You Shouldn’t Ask During a Job Interview

Employers rely heavily on job interviews to help give them an accurate look at what the candidate in front of them is all about. But while it’s okay to get a little abstract during an interview (“How many people are currently working at Google now?”), there are some areas you should avoid at all costs. Some topics to avoid include:

Questions about gender

Inquiries about a person’s gender should be avoided, as they can make it seem as if the person’s gender impacts the decision about their employment. Other questions that should be avoided include “do you have any children?” or “do you want to have kids?” Though these may seem harmless and conversational, they may signify a bias. Instead, an employer should keep questions strictly job-related. If the potential employee chooses to bring up their family life, that’s fine. Otherwise, the topic is off limits.

Marital status inquiries

Asking about a person’s relationship status is actually against the law. This also goes for questions about sexual orientation and current living arrangements. Employees are protected by law on the basis of marital status and sexual orientation, so asking about these issues should be avoided. Instead, a hiring manager could ask if the individual has any travel or relocation restrictions. This question is pertinent to the person’s ability to do the job successfully, but does not hone in on their relationship status.

Questions about race

Asking about someone’s race during a job interview is illegal. An employer hoping to find out about a person’s citizenship status should instead ask, “Are you authorized to work in the United States?” or “Can you provide proof of your authorization to work in the United States?” This gives all of the information the hiring manager needs to know, without violating the interviewee’s rights.

Asking about a person’s disability status

An employer legally cannot ask about a person’s health or disability status during an interview. Not only are questions like “Have you ever suffered from a disability?” illegal, they’re also offensive and may cause a potential employee to look elsewhere instead. A hiring manager who wants to make sure the employee can handle the physical elements of a job should simply ask this directly.

As a general rule, it is only appropriate for a hiring manager to ask questions that directly pertain to a job. Though it may seem as if these other inquiries are just part of casual conversation, they are prohibited by law and may even make a top candidate uncomfortable. For those looking to gather information about a person’s qualifications and abilities, it is best to focus simply on work. Let the interviewee bring it up voluntarily, but don’t ask on your own.

How do you get the information you need during an interview without violating a potential hire’s rights or creating an uncomfortable situation? Let us know in the comments!

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Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.