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Interview Illegal Questions

More than a decade after the passage of ADA, much confusion still surrounds the issue of illegal interview questions. For example, it is illegal to ask, "Are you a U.S. citizen?" but perfectly fine to ask, "Are you authorized to work in the United States?" The employer can't ask if you are married, single, divorced, or widowed but can legally inquire, "What's your marital status?" Apparently, wording is everything.

When thinking about your upcoming interview and the potential pitfalls in answering inappropriate questions, you will need to know two things. First, you will want to be able to recognize illegal questions when they are asked, and secondly you want to carefully plan your response.

To prepare a thoughtful and effective response, read our companion article Illegal Interview Questions. In that article, you will learn what your options are when asked an illegal question, the importance of uncovering the employer's underlying concern, and you will prepare a plan to legally address those concerns.

But it all begins by knowing and recognizing illegal interview questions. Below is a current list:

Interview Illegal Questions

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Where were you/your parents born?
  • What is your native language?
  • How old are you?
  • When did you graduate?
  • What is your birth date?
Marital/Family Status
  • What is your marital status?
  • Who do you live with?
  • Do you plan to have a family? When?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What are your child care arrangements?
  • What clubs or social organizations do you belong to?
  • What religion are you?
  • What church do you belong to?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • Please complete the following medical history.
  • Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If yes, list them and give dates.
  • What was the date of your last physical exam?
  • How is your family's health?
  • When did you lose your eyesight? How?
  • Have you ever filed a worker's compensation form?
Medical History
  • What current or past problems might limit your ability to do this job?
  • Have you had a history of mental illness?
  • Do you smoke?
Arrest Record
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever plead guilty to a crime?
  • Were you honorably discharged?
  • Tell me about your military record.
  • Have you served in the military of countries other than the United States?
  • Do you have any credit problems?
  • Have you recently filed for personal bankruptcy?
  • Is your salary presently subject to legal attachment or wage garnishment?

Unfortunately, you may intentionally or unintentionally be asked illegal job interview questions. Know your options, plan your responses beforehand and you will handle the interview with grace.

For more great resources, follow these links:

Job Interview
Free Interview Answers
Common Interview Questions
Behavioral Interviews
Job Interview Quiz
Illegal Interview Questions - How to Handle
Job Interview Etiquette
Interview Thank You Letters
Sample Interview Thank You Letter

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