Questions an interviewer cannot ask you

Unfortunately, discrimination is still a problem in many areas, including Phoenix. While discrimination may not become obvious in a place of employment until a few weeks or months after starting the job, in some cases, the interview itself can produce significant red flags. As the job candidate, it falls to you to be aware of these signals, such as illegal questions.

In general, a potential employer should not ask you questions about your age, race, gender, national origin or your marital status, among others. If an employer does ask you inappropriate questions, the best thing you can do is to politely decline to answer. Here are a few questions that an employer is not allowed to ask to determine your suitability for employment.

Have you been arrested?

While it is legal for an employer to ask you if you have been convicted of a crime, he or she cannot ask you if you have ever been arrested. Depending on the job you are applying for, a criminal conviction may not necessarily bar you from employment.

However, if the conviction and the job duties are related, it could be a problem. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires you to drive a company vehicle on the clock and you have a conviction for driving under the influence, it is unlikely you will get the job. On the other hand, an arrest without a subsequent conviction should not bar you from a job.

Are you married?

While some interviewers will ask this question to get an idea of your availability and the level of commitment you will have to your job, some might ask this question to determine your marital status or sexual orientation, neither of which should be relevant in your suitability for the job.

Do you practice religious holidays?

Like the previous question, this might help an interviewer determine if your lifestyle will be compatible with the work schedule. However, the answer to this question will also reveal your religion, which is the part that can potentially lead to discrimination.

If an interviewer asks you any of the above questions, not only do you not have to answer them, but they could be red flags that there is discrimination in the workplace. If you have been a victim of discrimination either during the hiring process or on the job, you might be able to take action and fight for your rights.

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Elizabeth D. Tate, Attorney at Law
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