Handling Illegal Questions

Interview questions asked by a recruiter should focus on the job you are seeking and whether or not you can perform the responsibilities of that job.

Typical Illegal Questions

  • What’s your marital status?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How many kids do you have?
  • How old are you?
  • What’s your birth date?
  • Are you a US citizen?
  • How tall are you?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If yes, list them and give dates when these occurred.
  • Please complete the following medical history.
  • When did you lose your eyesight? How?

If asked illegal questions, consider one of the three options:

  1. You could answer the question. However, you are giving information that typically isn’t related to the job and may even harm your chances of getting the job.
  2. You could refuse to answer the question. However, depending upon how you phrase your response, you could appear to be uncooperative and confrontational.
  3. You could examine the question for its intent and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job by providing input as if the question were asked correctly:
    • Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?
    • Are you qualified to work in the US?
    • Would you be able and willing to travel as needed for the job?
    • Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job? (assuming those responsibilities have already been given)
    • Are you able to lift a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards, as this is part of the job?
    • Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related functions?
    • As part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made, you will be required to undergo a medical exam. (results will be confidential; supervisors will be notified of any necessary job accommodations)

Job Choices (2005). National Association of Colleges and Employers, pages 47 and 48.