8 Illegal Interview Questions No Need to Answer

We’ve all gone through the interview process before and we’re all familiar with the procedure – a potential employer invites us and asks questions to learn as much as possible about our skills and potential fitness . Sounds simple enough. But what if the interviewer asks an illegal question? It happens remarkably often. Some of these questions are so common and can become so natural in normal conversation that you may not know that it is illegal to ask them. However, labor law specifically prohibits certain types of applications in order to secure equal employment opportunities.

Here are some examples of common interview questions that employers may not be able to ask:

how old are you?

Absolutely right. A seemingly harmless question is, in fact, illegal to ask. They may ask if you are of legal age to be employed in Canada, or are you of legal age to serve alcohol, but anything else violates your rights. Also, be wary of alternative questions that may be an attempt to collect your age. For example, in what year did you graduate? Although such a question is not explicitly illegal, only answer if you feel comfortable and believe it is not an attempt to discriminate on the grounds of age.

Do you have children? If not, are you going to do it?

Some employers believe that parents are less likely to work longer and are more likely to take days off for their children. These employers want to know if you are worth their financial investment by deducting how many hours you can work. However, they are not allowed to make hiring decisions based on this fact and you are not required to respond if asked to do so.

Have you ever been arrested?

This can be difficult. Interviewers are not allowed to ask about your arrest status. Unless you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you will be considered not guilty of any offense and you are not required to answer this question. However, an interviewer can legally ask if you have been convicted of a crime, in which case you will need to provide an answer.

What is your sexual orientation?

Basic discrimination laws prohibit questions like these because they have no effect on the ability or failure to perform job duties. This creates the opportunity for discrimination and, if an employer asks this question, it is clearly out of step.

What religion do you practice?

Like sexual orientation, the religion you practice has no influence on whether or not you are able to perform the required tasks. They may ask you to know what holiday you’re celebrating and decide what days you’ll need a break, but there are better ways to ask and more appropriate times to coordinate.

What is your marital status?

Although this question sounds simple enough, answering it may reveal more information than you think. Similar to asking about your plans for children, this is an attempt to determine your availability for extra work and longer hours. You can answer if you feel comfortable, but if you think they can discriminate in your situation, you are under no obligation to do so.

Do you have physical problems or disabilities?

Employers are not allowed to ask about your health or disability. They might ask if you can complete work-related tasks, so you can lift a lot of weight or whether you can stand for hours at a time. But widespread questions about general health can lead to disability discrimination, which is beginning to creep into illegal territory.

Do you smoke or drink with friends?

This question is in an attempt to get information about your reliability based on any current addiction or lifestyle choices. Generic questions like this are illegal. Answer carefully and if you feel comfortable enough to do so.

In summary…

If an interviewer asks you any of the above questions, you have the right to deny the disclosure. A great way to postpone illegal questions is to assess what information the interviewer is looking for and direct the conversation about your related employable skills. If they are a quality employer, they should accept your answer without any difficulty. If they are still asking you for information, really think about whether this is the kind of employer you want to work for anyway.


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