20 Interview Questions You Should Never Ask

How much can interviews really reveal about an applicant?

Personal details about a job candidate, even when asked in a friendly nature, are an extremely grey area for interviewers. Don’t put yourself or your company in a precarious position by asking an out-of-bounds interview question. It turns out that 20 percent of hiring managers have asked an off-limits question in a job interview, only to realize their mistake afterward, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.

So what are these questions to avoid? Well, anything personal about the candidate, really. You don’t want an accusation that there was discrimination based on anything other than the candidate’s qualifications if a candidate is not chosen for the job. Religion, children, age, marital status and many more are not to be discussed during the interview process, lest your company be sued if the candidate feels discriminated against. Here’s a partial list of questions to avoid, though there are many more:

  1. What is your religious affiliation?
  2. Are you pregnant?
  3. What is your political affiliation?
  4. What organizations do you belong to?
  5. What is your race, color or ethnicity?
  6. How old are you?
  7. What is your maiden name?
  8. Have you ever been arrested?
  9. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
  10. Are you disabled?
  11. Do you go to church?
  12. Where do you live?
  13. When do you plan on retiring?
  14. Were you ever in the military?
  15. How often are you sick?
  16. Are you married?
  17. Do you have children or plan to?
  18. How long have you lived in the United States?
  19. Are you in debt?
  20. Do you social drink or smoke?

Once again the ONLY thing that should be discussed in an interview process is the candidate’s fit for the job. Anything personal should be kept to the side until the person is accepted for the position. It can be weird, awkward, and almost robotic to not ask some of these things as you get to know someone – but for your and your company’s legal sake, they should not be asked.