Illegal Interview Questions You Might be Asking


Recently the topic of diversity in the workplace came up here at EDI Staffing. It’s a mission of ours to maintain a qualified and diverse candidate database, but we are constantly trying to figure out an appropriate way to approach the subject. We are committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion-we embrace and encourage our employee’s differences and never discriminate based on age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees unique.

While we continue to embrace diversity as a company, we also notice that companies around us are doing just the same. However, job interviews are a crucial part to ensuring the candidates feel comfortable and not discriminated against. You may already be aware of illegal interview questions to avoid or you might be innocently asking them without knowing…

Here are a few illegal interview questions to consider before bringing another candidate in for an interview.


1) Personal Life

You should NOT ask a candidate if they are married, and alternatively, if you do know that they are married, you CAN NOT ask about their spouses employment status. While the federal law does not state that it is illegal to ask about marriage, it is illegal to make employment decisions based off of sexual preference. Forcing a candidate to answer this question will make them feel that their personal information may influence your decision to hire them. This creates an uncomfortable situation and an issue with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If this candidate does not get the job and they were asked personal questions such as the above, they could believe that it was because of their marital status, sexual preference, home life, or whether or not they have kids.  You should also avoid questions surrounding parental status. If you are concerned about hours or weekend shifts, you should simply just ask how flexible their schedule is.

2) Age

It is not acceptable to ask a candidate their age. Age discrimination in the workplace is no joke- and it IS illegal. Hiring a candidate should strictly be based on the work qualities of the individual and you can get yourself into some deep trouble if you decide to base that off of age. It is however, acceptable to ask a candidate if they are over the age of 18.

3) Religion

There really is no reason that the question of religion should ever be asked in an interview. If you have questions about a candidate’s ability to meet your scheduling needs, ask just that; do not involve religious practices. Again, if you were to put a candidate in a position where they are asked to answer questions about their religion and then proceed not to hire them based on other reasons, you may find yourself in trouble. Avoid any questions that would lead a candidate to believe you are discriminating against them- and while you’re at it- don’t discriminate! If you have questions about work hours, it’s really simple; just ask the candidate what their schedule flexibility is and base it off of that, leave the religion discussion out.shutterstock_117048136

4) Race/National Origin/Color

You cannot ask a candidate what their National Origin is, you can however ask whether or not the candidate is eligible to work in the U.S.- and that’s all that should matter to your organization. Even if the question is innocent and is being asked to possibly connect with the candidate, it should just be avoided as it can create an uncomfortable situation for everyone.

5) Health

It is illegal to ask a candidate questions directly related to their health. For example, you cannot ask if they have disabilities, illnesses or if they’ve had to take a lot of time off of work in the past for doctor’s visits. If there’s something you need to know that directly relates to the job, just ask that. Ask the candidate if they are able to perform specific job duties without relating it to personal health issues. For example “Are you able to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day”. It is better to ask more general questions than specific ones like “How many times did you see the doctor last year..”


Finding the best candidate for your organization is often a difficult task. Knowing what questions to avoid in an interview can definitely make the process a bit easier. If you need assistance with the hiring process, that’s where we come in. We’ve been placing IT contract & permanent resources for over 20 years. Take the pressure off of  finding the most qualified candidate and let us do the work.


About Gabriella Calise

Gabriella began her career at EDI Staffing in 2014 as the Manager of Marketing and Client Services where she used her passion for social media and technology to connect top IT talent with our client partners. In 2016 Gabriella became the Executive Vice President of EDI Staffing, where she works closely with the President/CEO to find new and inventive ways to assist our clients and candidates. Gabriella oversees the day to day functions of the staff and continues to head our marketing and outreach efforts.

Outside of EDI Staffing, Gabriella teaches Saxophone and Clarinet privately. She enjoys exploring new places and spending time with her family and friends.

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