Illegal interview questions that an interviewer should not ask

Did you know there are certain questions that are illegal to ask in an interview? Yes, it’s true. There are a few questions that neither an interviewer should ask you, not should you answer.

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Here is a list of such questions.

In this guide we will

  • Discuss about commonly asked Illegal Interview Questions
  • Try to understand the ‘real’ queries behind such illegal interview question, and
  • Learn how to deal with the illegal interview questions, when asked

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Questions related to your race, color, ethnicity, and nationality

Asking job applicants about their race or nationality is illegal. Law compels every recruiter to be unbiased about a person’s origin and give everyone a fair and equal chance. That’s why asking them about their origin is illegal and subject to lawsuit across the world.


  • What is your birthplace?
  • Where were you born and brought up?
  • Which country are you a natural citizen of?
  • What is your mother-tongue? Or, Are you a native speaker of English/ (Any other language)?

Why are they asking such questions?

There might be many reasons for a recruiter to ask questions about your nativity, or mother tongue. They might want to make sure your language skills and verbal-communication skills are strong. Or they might just be biased and only want to hire native people out of conservations against foreigners. In any case, the appropriate alternate to such illegal interview questions are:

  • How are your English communication skills?
  • Majority of our clients are Americans. Do you have the appropriate amount of cultural knowledge to understand their needs and fulfill them accordingly?

Questions related to your age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, and children

An interviewer cannot ask you personal questions related to age, sex, and family. Discrimination based on all these factors is illegal.


  • How old are you? Or, What is your birth year?
  • Do you think a person at your age can do justice to this role?
  • Do you think you being a woman will be a suitable choice for this job?
  • Would you be comfortable working under a female boss?
  • Are you gay/ transgender? We only hire straight people.
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children/ plan to have children in near future?

Why are they asking such questions?

These questions, rather queries are very common among recruiters across the world, no matter how illegal they are. Discriminating based on age is illegal, but from the recruiter’s point of view, they want somebody young so that they can have a long-term investment out of him/ her. Similarly, they want to know about your baby plans (especially if you are a woman) to make sure that doesn’t affect your dedication towards work. Plus, some might want to skip paying your maternity leaves, denying which is punishable offence. Asking questions about your sexual orientation, that’s just pure unprofessionalism, and conservative mindset.

Alternate to these questions?

  • Can we expect your long-term commitment and dedication towards our organization?
  • Can you assure us that your personal life will not affect your work in near future?

Question regarding your religion

Same goes for religion too. A recruiter can neither ask about, nor take decisions based on the religion of the applicant.


  • What is your religion?
  • Are you a Christian/ Muslim/ Hindu?

Why do they ask such questions?

Asking about religious or political affiliation are also outcomes of conservative mindset of people who want to hire people belonging to a particular community. No alternate questions are there for replacing these questions.

Questions related to your physical attributes/ disability

Yes. Asking questions like what is your weight exactly? Or, don’t mind, do you have a limp in your right leg? Such questions are illegal to ask. Again, the law of equality applies here. Unless the job requires a certain physical attribute, a recruiter cannot ask about them.


  • What is your height?
  • Aren’t you a little overweight?
  • Do you have problems in your ear?
  • Do you have any physical disability?

Alternate to such questions?

  • Do you think you will be fit for this physically challenging job?

How to handle illegal interview questions?

When asked such questions, you have every right to not answer. You can just maintain silence, or change the topic altogether. If you think the questions are offensive, you can also report to the legal authorities of your country.

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