This was originally published on Off The Main Page on August 16, 2017.
Did you know there are questions interviewers are not allowed to ask? Yep. If a question makes you uncomfortable, there is probably a reason for it. It is not always intentional. One in five hiring managers has asked a question only to find out later that it was a violation of labor laws.
In a CareerBuilder survey, hiring managers were given a list of questions that are illegal. Many of them didn’t know that the questions are illegal.
What types of questions are out of bounds? Companies are not allowed to ask about your age, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disability, plans for children, debt, whether you are pregnant, whether you drink, or whether you smoke.
Most interviewers won’t just bluntly ask you your age or religion (although it does happen). A lot of interviewers may get into illegal territory just by making small talk.
Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, says:
“Casual conversation is part of the interview process. When you’re chit-chatting, sometimes the conversation turns more personal.”
Sometimes it depends on how the question is framed. For example, a manager can ask if you have been convicted of a crime, but they can’t ask about your arrest record.
“You shouldn’t be asked about information that’s not directly relevant to whether you can perform a job.”
What do you do if you are asked one of these questions? Whether or not you answer it is up to you. You can also respond to their question with a question of your own. You can say something like, “I just want to clarify how that is relevant to the job.”