10 Illegal Interview Questions That You Need To Know!

There are moments in a job interview when the most prepared candidates can feel uncomfortable in answering certain questions. The interview questions that could be used by the recruiters to distinguish among the candidates have nothing to do with the job requirements. Illegal interview questions are common, but the organization should prohibit their hiring managers from asking such questions. These unlawful interview questions are related to gender, religion, family planning, nationality, etc. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission bans discrimination against individuals based on these characteristics. The recruiters must be aware of the illegal interview questions because if not taken seriously, these questions can make their company liable in a discrimination lawsuit. On the other hand, candidates need to be wary and alert of such questions and must know how to answer them. Stick around till the end of the article to find out the answers. For now, let’s dive into the inappropriate/illegal questions:

1. Are You Married or planning to get married any time soon?

Asking the candidates questions on marital status is the most common queries that the recruiters ask and the candidates don’t even mind answering these questions. However, the truth is that this is an illegal question. The hiring managers should not differentiate among candidates based on their marital status, as being married does not hamper their productivity towards their work and organization as a whole.

2. Do you have children, or are you planning to have them?

Now, even this sounds like a casual question, but the hiring managers cannot ask this in a job interview. Even the state and the government law says that no organization has the right to ask any female candidate about their plans regarding family planning. Also, the companies cannot reject a candidate based on pregnancy. Some women work even when they are on maternity leaves because of the facilities like work from home. It is not right to discriminate while making a hiring decision based on pregnancy solely.

Instead, recruiters can ask whether the candidate has any commitments that may prevent him from fulfilling his duties.

3. Do you have any Disability or Chronic Illness?

It is illegal to use the word disability as a factor in recruiting an individual. However, the recruiter should enquire in such a way that they describe the job and then ask whether the candidate is comfortable in performing all the required tasks.  

4. What’s your religion? 

India is a multi-religious country. Therefore, discrimination based on caste and religion is strictly prohibited. Employers should not make any hiring decision influenced by an individual’s faith. Instead, employers can ask if the candidate is willing to work on holidays and weekends, whenever required.

5. What is your current address?

Asking whether a candidate resides in their own house or a rented place is not permitted. Even if the interviewee is living with his family members, relatives, and friends that should never be the mode of discrimination in a job interview. Instead, the hiring managers should ask how long the candidate has been residing at the current address that they have mentioned? 

6. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of any crime?

The hiring managers should avoid asking questions based on arrests and legal cases if they are not directly related to the job profile. When asked in a job interview, the candidate should give an honest answer to these questions as the legal matters become visible at the time of background checks. However, there are certain exceptions which, even the employers understand, and they are alright with them until and unless the offense is not affecting the organization directly. 

7. Do you belong to professional groups? 

Instead of asking this, the hiring managers should ask whether the candidate is a part of any professional group that is relevant to the applied position. The recruiters should not ask this question as this is not directly related to the job and may trigger questions concerning a candidate’s gender, origin, and religion. 

8. What is your native language?

It is sometimes inappropriate to inquire about the ability of a candidate to read, write, and speak any language apart from the local language. But, if the job requires the knowledge of a few additional languages, then the interviewer can lawfully inquire about the languages the applicant can read and write fluently. 

9. Do you take any medication or drugs? 

The hiring managers should avoid asking any medications or drug-related questions. If the organization must know, then the authentic tests must be conducted accordingly. 

10. What is your race or color?

According to the Human Resource Department, the organizations have to keep a record of the number of applicants who belong to a particular race. These details are submitted to the government officials to show that the companies recruit employees irrespective of their race, color, and caste with equal opportunities. These questions should not be asked during the screening or F2F interviews. Instead, HR can ask the candidates to fill these details on the application form. 

How to Answer Illegal Questions

When we encounter questions or topics that we aren’t comfortable discussing, the mind sort of panics and starts babbling nonsense, and before you know it, you’ve spilled the beans. So, first and foremost, stop and think about the question and follow these steps:

  • If you can, ignore the question altogether and switch the topic
  • If you must answer, keep it short and generic, don’t get into the details
  • If you don’t want to answer it but the interviewer insists, ask them how the question is pertinent to the job
  • If worse comes to worst, deny responding and tell them you’re not comfortable discussing the topic

The job interview is the most critical part of the employee selection process. The hiring managers should ask questions that help them identify the skills of the candidate, and experience required for the particular job the candidate is applying. Instead of asking the above-mentioned illegal interview questions, one should resort to the alternate questions to confirm the job requirements.


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