During job interviews, employers want to learn everything they possibly can about the people they interview. However, sometimes their questions can cross the line and promote discriminatory hiring processes.
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There are a number of reasons job seekers should be aware of the types of questions employers can ask during a job interview. For example, in a recent study by Slater and Gordon, 40 percent of managers avoid hiring younger women to avoid dealing with maternity leave.
Examples like this show how important it is for job seekers to be aware of the questions they can and cannot be asked. Questions about race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and marital status are off limits during the interview process.
To avoid becoming a victim of discrimination during a job interview, here are 10 interview questions you don’t have to answer:
1. Are you married?
Employers cannot ask questions about your marital status. Although an employer might ask this question to learn more about your time commitment, they cannot find out whether you’re married or single.
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2. Do you have children? If not, do you plan on it?
Again, employers tend to ask this question to find out about your availability at work. As stated in the study mentioned earlier, employers will (wrongly) use children as a determining factor of whether they hire a candidate or not.
3. How old are you?
Age discrimination is a huge problem job seekers face during the hiring process. Employers cannot ask you about your age, how long you’ve been in the workforce, or the year you were born.
4. What religion do you practice and religious holidays do you observe?
Employers may want to ask you about your religious practices to learn about your lifestyle and schedule outside of work. However, they legally cannot ask about your religious background.
Employers can ask you if you could work on Sundays or a particular holiday, but they cannot ask any question that reveals your religious beliefs.
5. Do you have any outstanding debt?
Employers cannot hold your credit history against your ability to perform in the workplace. When employers want to learn about your debt, they must ask for permission before obtaining a credit check.
6. Have you ever been arrested?
Employers cannot ask you if you’ve ever been arrested, but they can ask you if you’ve been convicted of a crime.
7. What country are you originally from?
If you speak with an accent, employers might want to ask where you’re from. Although this might seem like an innocent question, it is illegal because it’s asking about your national origin.
8. When was the last time you used an illegal drug?
Employers cannot ask about your illegal drug use history, but they can ask if you currently use illegal drugs.
9. Do you enjoy drinking socially?
Employers cannot ask about your drinking habits during a job interview. This question violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
10. Do you live nearby?
Employers may want to ask about where you live to determine the length of your commute and availability. However, employers cannot use location to discriminate against you during the hiring process. They can only ask you if you’re willing to relocate for the position.