Interviewing – What Can Be Asked?

Interview questions are designed to determine the most qualified candidate for a position. To do so fairly, employers are required to ask questions which protect the employment and civil rights of candidates. Most of these questions are unrelated to a candidates’ qualifications and should be avoided.

As a candidate – it’s important to know which protections you have and how to prepare for a situation that violates your rights. These questions are off-limits with all individuals related to a hiring company prior to an offer being made and accepted. This is not a complete list and we encourage you to use search engines to support this material.

Equitable & Legal Interview Questions

  • Do you have any relatives employed by the company?
  • Will you have any problems getting to work on time?
  • Can you lift this amount of weight?
  • Do you need any accommodations to perform the job you applied for?
  • Have you ever worked for this company or a competitor under a different name?
  • Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.? Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility?
  • Are you an active duty service member or veteran?
  • Questions directly related to the requirements of the position, your qualifications and abilities to do the work.

Illegal Questions

  • Marital status & living arrangements
  • Physical health and disabilities, including medical history and pregnancy
  • Questions related to your personal credit or financial data
  • Type or condition of military discharge
  • Questions related to race, religion, age, citizenship, nationality

What should I do if someone asks an illegal question?

You get to decide what you are willing to share. For example, an innocent question about your spouse if you mentioned them. If you’re concerned the question is not relevant to the position you’re interviewing for – question the relevance or ask the interviewer to rephrase. You don’t have to answer every question. You may also decide to withdraw from the interview at any time by politely thanking the interviewer for their time and declining the position.

If you experience any concerns with an interviewer – you are encouraged to contact the O’Brien Center for Career Development at


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