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EEO Laws

19 Interview Questions to Absolutely Never Ask Candidates

Nov 12, 2015

With the holiday season in full swing, many retailers are hiring new and seasonal employees. And even if you don’t work in retail, you might be hiring now to get prepared for next year. But in the rush to get the right candidate, you might find yourself asking the wrong questions.bad interview questions

A CareerBuilder survey discovered that about 20 percent of hiring managers reported that they had asked a question in an interview only to find out later asking the question might have violated the law.

So in an effort to help make sure you’re not asking the wrong questions, we’ve put together a list of 19 interview questions you should definitely NOT ask potential employees.

A special thanks goes out to Betsy Milton, the human resources business manager at Workplace Answers, for all her help!

Interview Questions that Violate EEO Laws

The questions listed below are the worst to ask because they are directly related to the protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

  • What year did you graduate high school?
  • Where were you born?
  • What holidays do you need off?
  • What time do you pick up your kids from daycare?
  • What year were you thinking of retiring?
  • Are you okay with the fact that we don’t have an elevator?

So if you do ask one of these questions and then reject the candidate, they can say you based your hiring decision on their answer. And now you might be facing a lawsuit for violating Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws.

Interview Questions that Fall into a Gray Area

There are also interview questions that fall into a gray area like:

  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Is Spanish your native tongue?
  • How many days were you absent from work last year?
  • In school, what organizational groups did you belong to?
  • Do you foresee any long-term absences in the future?
  • If you were a movie character, who would you be?
  • Tell me about the type of person you’ve had the most trouble communicating with.

At first glance, most of these questions might seem harmless. Or even fun questions you would ask to get to know a potential employee.

But, these are the types of interview questions that might unintentionally lead a candidate to reveal something that categorizes themselves into a protected class. So be careful and stay away from these questions.

Interview Questions that are Completely Outlandish

Then of course, there are some outlandish questions that are perfectly legal to ask, but you or anyone else should definitely steer clear of them – unless your goal is to drive away potential employees.

  • What makes you think you’re qualified to work here?
  • You’re not a fit for the role, but would you go out with me?
  • What is your least favorite thing about humanity?
  • Are your parents disappointed with your career aspirations?
  • I noticed you’re not wearing makeup. Do you just not care about looking presentable?
  • Would you have a problem with small arms fire and occasional explosions while you work?

What Interview Questions Should You Ask?

If you want to know what interview questions you should be asking, stay tuned for our next blog! And if you need help or want an easy solution for getting supervisors and managers trained, check out our lawful hiring training course.


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