illustration of a job interview. We can see a silhouette of a man and a woman, and there are keys on the table.We should not discriminate job candidates becasue of their race, age, maternity, religion, disability, gender, skin color, and other things.

Once you ask them a question that relates to their race of religion, you risk a legal action against you. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination in the United States. Similar institutions operate in many other countries of the world.

The job applicants can submit their charges against you, which can jeopardize both the reputation of your company, and your personal career….

Let’s talk a bit more about the legal and illegal questions in an interview.


What to do if they ask you an illegal question?

Every job seeker who feels discriminated becasue of their gender, age or sex can address the EEOC with their claim.

If you are a job seeker, think twice before you sue the employer. You can barely gain anything with the legal action. Employer might end up guilty, paying a penalty, and losing their reputation. But nobody can oblige them to give you a job afterwards…


List of questions that can be considered illegal.

  • man is angry in an interview, the job candidate tries to protect herself, gesticulating with her hand.How old are you?
  • When did you finish your college?
  • What is your original nationality?
  • Can you tell me something more about your origin?
  • Where do you come from?
  • What is your religion?
  • Will you need several days off per year to follow some religious rituals?
  • Do you have any children?
  • Do you plan to have any more children?
  • How much of your time do your children consume?
  • How many years have you left until you reach the age of retirement?
  • Don’t you think your health conditions may limit you in this job?
  • Do you believe in God?
  • Do your children still visit the school?
  • Are you married, or single?
  • Are you in a serious relationship with somebody?


Everything depends on the context

Shaking hands in the final interview, we can see two hands, man wears a black jacket, a woman a brown one.Some of the question mentioned above can be considered illegal, but they not necessarily have to be. It depends on the context of the interview, and on the position you apply for.  In many cases, a question can be justified.

If you visit one of the popular job boards, you will find that many offers indicate the preferred age of an applicant, or gender. Some do it in a very direct way, some in an indirect one.

Is this a discrimination? Or, do they simply need such a person, becasue of the nature of the job, the team of people who work in the company at the moment, etc?

This is hard to say, and it varies from one case to another. I believe (but consider it only my opinion) that it is better to show your cards, to tell the job applicants as much as you can.

In my opinion it makes no sense to let (or even encourage) people in their fifties to apply for your offer, if you know you want to hire someone young for the job. Telling it straight would save the precious time of many job applicants. If they didn’t waste time applying for your job offer (which they can not get anyway), they could focus on applying for jobs they can realistically get.



If you are an employer, try to avoid asking questions that can be considered illegal. You should be able to read what you need to know from the resume of each applicant, and from their behavior in an interview.
And if you belong to the job seekers, try to focus on more important issues, and try to spend your time applying for jobs you can realistically get.

See also: