Age, marital status and other illegal questions employers ask in an interview

To avoid being prejudicial in the hiring process, prospective employers should avoid asking certain questions in an interview.

The interviewing stage is a crucial part of your job search, but inasmuch as you love to be hired, experts say there are certain questions you should avoid answering for legal reasons. While it might be tricky to call out a prospective employer for asking certain questions, you should at least know why they are problematic.

Age

Employers know not to ask you outrightly how old you are, so they might frame that question in other ways by asking the year you graduated from high school or when you had your first job, according to an article on BusinessNewsDaily. In the US, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 extends protection from age-based discrimination for people 40 years and above. However, if the job requires a minimum age such as bartending, the hiring manager is well within their rights to ask if you meet that requirement.

Marital status

Labour experts say asking about the marital status or whether the candidate has kids or not, could stem from prejudice. This is especially so in the case of women as employers may be wary of paid maternity leave and the demands of childcare on the parent, labour and employment attorney Ryan Stygar told HuffPost.

Overwhelmingly, women get asked these questions more than men. There is also a sort of implicit bias happening there.
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Getty/ Marko Geber

According to Stygar, asking these questions could be in violation of the employment act and candidates can sue for that.

Political views

People have severed ties with family, friends and loved ones over differences in political ideologies and so it is easy to see how that could be an issue if it comes up in an interview. A prospective employer is not allowed to ask you your thoughts and feelings about the latest political developments. Doing this could open the door to discriminatory illegal conduct, Stygar said.

It sounds so outrageous, but a lot of smaller companies will do it, because they think ‘I just want like-minded people,’ but it’s work. You don’t need to be screening people based on their beliefs on abortion, their beliefs on gun control.

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She was thrown out of a job interview for asking this one question She was thrown out of a job interview for asking this one question