Illegal Interview Questions

Various federal, state, and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask you. An employer's questions--on the job application, in the interview, or during the testing process--must be related to the job for which you are applying. For the employer, the focus must be: "What do I need to know to decide whether or not this person can perform the functions of this job?" 

Illegal questions

National Origin/Citizenship

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Where were you/your parents born? 
  • What is your "native tongue?" 


  • How old are you? 
  • What is your birthday? 
  • Marital/Family Status
  • What's your marital status? 
  • Who do you live with? 
  • Do you plan to have a family? When? 
  • How many kids do you have? 
  • What are your child care arrangements? 


  • To what clubs or social organizations do you belong?


  • How tall are you? 
  • How much do you weigh? 


  • Do you have any disabilities? 
  • Please complete the following medical history. 
  • Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If yes, list and give dates. 
  • What was the date of your last physical exam? 
  • How's your family's health? 
  • When did you lose your eyesight?

Arrest Record

  • Have you ever been arrested? 


  • If you've been in the military, were you honorably discharged?

Options for Answering an Illegal Question

Answer the question.  

If you choose to do so, realize that you are giving information that is not job-related. You could harm your candidacy by giving the "wrong" answer. 

Refuse to answer the question.
By selecting this option, you'll be within your rights, but you're also running the risk of coming off as uncooperative or confrontational--hardly the words an employer would use to describe the "ideal" candidate. 

Examine the intent behind the question and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job. For instance, if the interviewer asks, "Are you a U.S. citizen?" or "What country are you from?," you've been asked an illegal question. Instead of answering the question directly, you could respond, "I am authorized to work in the United States." Or, if your interviewer asks, "Who is going to take care of your children when you have to travel?" you might answer, "I can meet the travel and work schedule that this job requires."