Illegal Interview Questions
What are commonly referred to as illegal interview questions are those interviewers ask that illegally single out job applicants as an end result under discrimination laws.
About Illegal Interview Questions
Despite that they're referred to as illegal interview questions and although it's legally risky to do so, it is not necessarily against the law for interviewers to ask them.
For example, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is not an illegal interview question per se for an interviewer to simply ask your age or date of birth.
However, if you're 40 or older, it is illegal age discrimination for an interviewer to ask your age and then later decline to hire you solely on the basis of your age.
Interviewers might ask so-called illegal interview questions with bad intent or innocently in ignorance of discrimination laws. Regardless, as indicated, it's not so much the questions themselves that are illegal, as much as it is the consequences of asking them.
If the consequences violate specific discrimination laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in the example above, then the questions become evidence of illegal discrimination in hiring. That's likely why they're commonly referred to as illegal interview questions.
To comply with affirmative action programs, during the job hiring process employers must ask certain questions for which the answers are voluntary, such as those about race. Despite that they might seem discriminatory, they are not so-called illegal interview questions. Still, wise employers let forms do the asking, separately from interview questions.
If you reasonably believe that the end result of one or more so-called illegal interview questions constituted employment discrimination to your disadvantage, then you may file a charge against the employer with the EEOC or a state equivalent. You may file the charge yourself or through your lawyer (or another representative). The employer may not retaliate against you (or your representative) for doing so.
Although you may file a charge yourself, a lawyer will likely help you to collect evidence and then submit your charge in legalese, both of which might better compel the EEOC or a state equivalent to act on your behalf. (Because they are often swamped with charges, they can take on only the most legally-compelling cases.) Employment lawyers often take winnable discrimination cases on a contingency basis.
More About Illegal Interview Questions
For more information about illegal interview questions, including examples, legal equivalents and suggested ways of answering the "illegal," read Dealing with Illegal Interview Questions at our partner site.