It’s no surprise that hiring managers want to discover as much as possible about candidates during the interview process, leading them to ask probing questions to find out vital information about their skill, experience, and even behavior. But, certain questions should be strictly off limits, as there are legal ramifications for asking about certain topics.

To help you avoid a potentially damaging mistake, including those that could lead to a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit, here are five interview questions you should never ask.

  1. Do You Have Any Disabilities?

Based on the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), employers are barred from discriminating against qualified candidates based on their disability. This means that bringing up the topic during an interview is simply unacceptable. Similarly, asking about any prescription drugs a person is taking or whether they have been treated for a mental health issue are strictly prohibited.

However, if an offer is extended, employers can request information about the need for “reasonable accommodations” that may be necessary for them to perform their duties, as long as the question is asked of everyone and not just those who have an obvious sign of disability.

  1. Do You Have Any Plans to Have Children?

While such a question may arise due to concerns about a person being absent for an extended period or their ability to perform their duties, this question is usually only asked of women, making it discriminatory. Similarly, asking about a person’s childcare arrangements or if they have children can leave you in dangerous territory legally.

Instead, make sure any questions related to their ability to perform their duties focus on the job. For example, “This position requires travel days every month. Do you have any restrictions that would stop you from fulfilling that requirement?”

  1. Do You Require Time Off for Religious Holidays?

A person’s religious affiliation is also protected, so employers can’t make hiring decisions based on their practices, beliefs, or observances. Similarly, asking a candidate about the church they attend, if any, or their religious affiliation will also get you into hot water.

  1. What Is Your Nationality?

Asking about a person’s national origin should be avoided, as making hiring decisions based on the information is prohibited by federal law. This includes questions like, “What country are you from,” or “Where are you from originally,” if the context suggests the hiring manager is trying to discover information about a person’s national origin.

However, you can ask if a person is legally permitted to work in the U.S., as that is relevant from an employment standpoint.

  1. Are You Scheduled to Deploy Anytime Soon?

Reserve and National Guard military members have a range of obligations, but their status as a military member is protected, so companies cannot use this information during the hiring decision.

Essentially, any question intended to discover information about a person’s age, race, ethnicity, color, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or marital or family status, including pregnancy, is generally prohibited and should be avoided at all times.


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