Human Resources

Interview Questions You Cannot Ask

Formulating interview questions can be a daunting task. Which questions will get me sued and how can I phrase this so I get the answers I need without breaking the law? 

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Catharine Morisset is a Seattle-based partner with Fisher & Phillips LLP, contributed an article on this very topic to Payscale.com. She included the following 9 questions as examples of what not to ask.

  1. Have you ever been arrested?
  2. Is English your native language?
  3. Are you a US citizen?
  4. Are you planning on having children?
  5. Have you ever been injured on the job?
  6. How many sick days did you take last year?
  7. Why were you discharged from the military?
  8. Do you like to drink socially?
  9. When is the last time you used illegal drugs? (But not: Do you currently use illegal drugs?)

Asking these interview questions (and many others) can lead to a disclosure of an applicant’s national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or religion. Asking any questions that may cause the applicant to disclose information about any protected status and this would be illegal under federal, state, or local laws. Keep the focus on priorities related to the essential duties of the job, such as work history as it pertains to the position, or availability to work certain shifts.

Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!

Lisa Smith


Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Seminars, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Authority at BeAuditSecure.com.


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