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Legal and Illegal Job Interview Questions

Much as they might like to, interviewers are not allowed to ask such questions as "Do you plan to start a family soon?" or even "How old are you?" Only questions dealing with the actual requirements of the job may be asked.

Here's a rundown of what can and what can't be asked, based upon current laws. Of course, you may volunteer any of this information if you choose.

Topic These questions are legal... You are not required to answer these...

Birthplace/ Citizenship

"If hired, can you show evidence of being legally allowed to work in the U. S.?"

"Where were you born?"
"What is your mother tongue?"

Sex/Family Status

May ask for name and address of parent, if candidate is a minor.

"With whom do you live?" or any questions which would indicate whether the candidate is male or female.


Almost nothing is legal, until after the candidate is hired.

"What is your racial/ethnic group?" or anything dealing with color.


May verify that candidate meets minimum requirement such as "Are you 18 or older?"

"How old are you?"
"When did you finish high school?"

Military Service

May ask about job-related skills acquired during military service.

Questions dealing with dates of military sevice and type of discharge.


"To help check prior employment, list any other names you used."

"What was your maiden name?"

National Origin

"These positions require language skills. What languages do you speak?"

"How did you acquire your language skills?"
"What did your family speak?"

Physical Characteristics

May require a photo only after hiring.

"Please submit a recent photo with your application."


May tell the candidates the hours when they would be required to work.

"Do you belong to a church?"
"What is your religion?"

Criminal Record

"Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

"Have you ever been arrested?"
"Have you ever been in trouble with the law?"

Physical Condition

"If hired, you will have to pass a physical exam based on actual job requirements."

"What is your physical condition?
"Do you have any disabilities?"


"Please list all job-related organizations to which you belong. You do not need to list any which indicate your race, religion, sex or other personal characteristics."

"Please list all the organizations to which you belong."