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What Are Illegal Interview Questions

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Illegal Interview Questions


What are Illegal Interview Questions?

In the U.S., illegal interview questions are those that directly or indirectly discriminate against you on the basis of

  • Age
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion or Creed

Although they're coined illegal interview questions, the act of asking them is not necessarily illegal. For example, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) does not make it illegal for an employer to ask an applicant's age or date of birth. But the ADEA does make it illegal to deny employment, solely because the applicant is 40 years of age or older. So, while asking the question isn't illegal, a discriminatory motive behind it is, when it ultimately denies employment.

Unknown motive is what makes any question with discriminatory implications an inappropriate question for interviewers to ask. Since you can't read an interviewer's mind, it might lead you to believe that you weren't hired because of discrimination, whether or not it's true. As a result, you might file a discrimination charge. So, smart interviewers avoid such questions in the first place, illegal to ask or not.

Still, there are those who ask anyway, either intentionally or ignorantly. That's what you have to decide before answering or filing a discrimination charge. For example, if you're over 40 and an interviewer asks when you graduated from college, is he or she intentionally discriminating against your age or just trying to be friendly? Does the interviewer have malicious intent or is he or she simply naive of the implications?


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