What are some areas or questions that should be considered "off limits" when conducting a job interview?

Author: Melanie J. Perez-Vellios

As a best practice, interview questions should focus on assessing whether an applicant can perform the essential functions of the particular job, rather than focusing on the candidate's specific personal characteristics. Questions about an applicant's race, gender age, religion, national origin, and disability or medical condition are prohibited by law in most instances, and should be avoided during the interview process.

Additionally, personal questions regarding the candidate also should be avoided as they could elicit information that is protected under federal law and could later be used by the candidate as evidence of discrimination. For example, the following personal questions should be avoided:

  • Do you have any children?
  • What clubs/organizations do you belong to?
  • When did you graduate high school or college?
  • Is English your first language?
  • Did you grow up in the United States?
  • Do you have reliable childcare for when you have to work late?