Blog Post

7 Questions to Avoid Asking at Any Interview

What country are you from? Do you belong to a club or social organization? Do you have kids? Are you pregnant? Do you drink? How old are you? How do you feel about managing men/women?

By: Wyetta Ford

Has anyone on your management team ever asked one of the questions above? Do the managers in your office understand the questions and line of questions to avoid during the interview process? If you are unsure of the answer, take time to review the information below to help guide and coach managers through the challenging process of interviews.

The entire purpose of an interview is to learn as much about a prospective candidate as possible.  Interviews are intended to gather information to determine the candidate’s ability to fit into the company culture and successfully accomplish the job duties.  The interview process as a whole can be daunting and tiresome.  After a manager reviews stacks and stacks of resumes and narrows the pool of candidates, now it is time to meet people for the first round of interviews.  No matter if the interview is via phone or face-to-face, managers must ask a series of questions during a conversation to uncover the true personality and talents the person possesses.

How do you gather enough valuable information in a 30 to 60-minute conversation? More importantly, how do you ask questions that give you valuable information about the candidate while protecting the company from potential legal action?

Yes, even candidates are federally protected by various acts adopted over the past 50 years. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally prohibits discrimination related to race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Additional Federal Acts have been passed protecting age, pregnancy, citizenship, familial status, disabilities, and veteran status. States and municipalities may have additional protections; just remember to avoid a line of question during the interview process that may be deemed discriminatory in nature.  See the chart below to help further:

Protected Class Questions to Avoid Possible Questions to Ask
Race, Color, Nationality What country are you from?How long have you lived here? Are you authorized to work in the US?What languages do you read, speak, and write?
Religion What religion are you?Do you belong to a club or social organization? What days are you available to work?Do you belong to any professional organizations?
Marital/Family Status Do you have a plan for daycare?Do you have kids?Are you pregnant? Can you travel?Are you available to work overtime?
Age How old are you?When were you born?When do you plan to retire? What are your long term goals?
Gender How do you feel about managing men/women? Tell me about your experience managing people
Health/Physical Abilities Do you take drugs?How much do you weight?Do you drink? In the past, have you ever been disciplined for violating company policies?How many days work did you miss last year?Are you able to perform essential duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodations?


There are a host of other questions to avoid during the interview process, just remember to avoid questions related to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, physical/mental disabilities and citizenship.   Identify the key elements that define your culture and create a series of questions to evaluate each person’s ability to connect with the corporate culture as well as ability to complete the job tasks.  Ask questions to uncover the person’s talents in relationship to the position and avoid questions that may expose the company to a claim of discriminatory practices.



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