When looking for a new job, the number of things you’re asked about can be overwhelming — and it can be difficult to discern what you even have to answer in the first place. Many questions may be inappropriate or illegal for an employer to ask. So, to help you overcome any imposter syndrome in the interview process, we’ve compiled a list of what potential employers cannot ask about in interviews. Bear in mind, though, that this is simply an overview of common topics employers are not allowed to bring up. For additional information, we suggest visiting the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission!
Climb credit does not provide legal advice. We recommend consulting an employment law professional if you have legal questions, or if you believe you have been discriminated against.
Following the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, employers cannot ask any age-related questions such as how old you are, when you graduated, or how long you’ve been working. However, there are some instances in which they must verify that you meet a legal age minimum requirement for the role, in which case they may ask if you’re at least a certain age.
Race, ethnicity, or citizenship
Similar to above, employers are only allowed to verify that a candidate is legally allowed to work in the US. The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, so interviewees cannot be asked — for example — where they are from or what their ancestry, ethnicity, first language, or citizenship status is.
Health and disability
Interviewers are prohibited from asking whether you have any disabilities, medical conditions, past injuries, or what your genetic information is. Instead, they are only allowed to ask if you can do everything in the job description.
Gender, sex, or sexual orientation
In addition to being unable to ask about a candidate’s sex, interviewers also cannot ask about their gender identity or sexual orientation, unless it can be proven to be a genuine job qualification. Except for such cases, they cannot ask what an interviewee’s gender or sex is, or what their sexual orientation is.
Marital or family status
Employers also cannot discriminate based on marriage or family status, so questions they cannot ask include whether you’re married, whether you have or are planning to have children, or what childcare arrangements you’ve made.
As mentioned earlier, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. Because of this, job candidates cannot be asked what their religion is, whether they go to church, or what religious holidays they observe.
In many places throughout the US, there are state and local laws put in place which prohibit employers from asking about previous salaries. Before interviewing, check to see if any such laws are in effect in your area, as well as whether it applies to your field.