2 Types of Questions You Should Avoid Asking Candidates

When interviewing prospective employees, you want to get to know as much as possible about them. But, not all questions are appropriate – or legal – during an interview.

In this article, we’ll discuss two types of questions you should never ask candidates during an interview, and provide specific examples of each.


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Questions about Personal Life

Though you can ask questions about a candidate’s hobbies and interests, there are questions relating to their personal life which are 100 percent off limits.

You can’t ask any questions which could be used to discriminate against the employee.

Areas of concern regarding a candidate’s personal life are:

  • Age
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • Disability
  • Citizenship

For example, asking about a person’s marital status would ultimately reveal their sexuality. It may also reveal whether a person plans on taking maternity or paternity leave in the future.

Asking about their religion might reveal they need to take certain days off throughout the year.

Although you certainly wouldn’t make a hiring decision based on these factors, unfortunately many employers throughout the country would – which is why such questions are not allowed.

Questions About Background

You want to know about your prospective employee’s past. But you must keep your questioning focused on their professional background.

Interviewers are not allowed to ask questions regarding a candidate’s:

  • Medical or psychological history
  • Instances regarding workers’ compensation
  • Past drug use or treatment (they can require employees to pass a drug screening, though)
  • Arrest records (they can ask about convictions, however)

While you might be tempted to use these questions to determine if a candidate will be a liability, their responses may cause you to unintentionally pass judgment on them.

Individuals generally have little to no control over major medical issues or whether they needed to take elongated time off to get well. This question is similar to a question regarding handicap – it is your duty as the employer to ensure proper accommodations are made should a person with a medical condition join the team.

When interviewing a candidate, your best course of action is to stick to relevant questions and avoid prying too deep into certain grey areas. Though you may be focused on ensuring the person you hire is the right person for your company, there are numerous ways you can determine this without running the risk of alienating anyone or breaking the law.

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Our hands-on approach and single point of contact ensure that each employer and job seeker is treated as our most important customer. This approach, combined with our specific industry knowledge, creates the right fit the first time.