In the United States, there are employment laws in place enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. This does not stop employers from misbehaving during the hiring process. If you are a job candidate and hear one of these 10 questions, you don’t have to answer.
1. What religion/Church/faith do you belong to?
Unless you are a faith-based organization, this question will potentially lead to discrimination on the basis of religion. Therefore, it is no good. Interviewers should be focusing on your skills in an interview. Your faith has nothing to do with your ability to perform a job.
2. Will you need health insurance?
First, everyone needs health insurance. The company is allowed to tell the job candidate that a position does not offer benefits,. But they are not allowed to ask if the job candidate needs it or ask about a job candidate’s health. The question itself can is an attempt to pry into a job candidates medical history. It could eventually lead to disability discrimination.
3. Do you have any disabilities?
This question is the more direct version of question #2. The Americans With Disabilities Act protects job candidates from disability discrimination. Asking this question can be seen as an attempt to discriminate.
4. We went to the same college. What year did you graduate?
Watch for the questions in which someone can do some basic math and figure out your age with the answer, for example by knowing the year you graduated. Typically, students get their Bachelors between 22 to 24 years-old.
Age Discrimination will become a new hot topic in the next ten years as people in the workforce retire later than ever before. Avoid all questions that can give hints as to your real age.
5. You have a beautiful accent. Where were you born?
Regardless of everything going on in the US today, and the crackdown on undocumented workers, companies are not allowed to discriminate based on national origin. This problem is not just a US problem. Anywhere you go in this world you come across people in countries who discriminate against others for various reasons.
6. Any crazy interview question with no real answer or purpose
The purpose of interviews is to evaluate job candidates and their skills for performing jobs. Questions like, “What would you do if a penguin walked in front of the door?” have no real answer. Some, but not all, crazy interview questions do not evaluate the job candidates ability to perform a job. Therefore, the question can be considered a form of discrimination; using questions that cannot be answered to get rid of job candidates.
7. Tell me about your kids.
You may be ok with answering this as a proud father or mother. But the employer is trying to find out if your kids will affect productivity on the job. You cannot discriminate against people for being parents or the number of children they chose to have.
8. Are you married?
This question may lead to an employer discriminating based on marital status. Being married or a parent has nothing to do with a person’s ability to perform tasks. It may not seem like a big deal if you are happily married, but shallow-minded employers who believe “married people are less devoted to the job or less productive.” It is also a question that can lead to the accidental disclosure of religious faith.
9. How old are you?
Employers are allowed to ask if you are older than 18. But they cannot ask your age. The question can is as an attempt to age discriminate.
10. Were you ever arrested?
The US is a country with a legal system that believes in “innocent until proven guilty.” Employers are allowed to ask if you had been convicted of a felony (proven guilty). However, the company cannot ask if you had ever been arrested (innocent until). So, it is illegal for employers to ask this question.
Every job candidate is allowed to fully disclose answers to questions that may lead to discrimination. But the job candidate will assume every consequence in doing so. Given we now work in a global economy, if you are hired in the USA and your company is based in another country, you should investigate if the EEOC is still able to protect you. Research the employment laws of the company overseas. You might not have the discrimination protection you receive in the USA.