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Hardwood Executive

The Do's and Don'ts of Interviewing

Garnering information during an interview can turn into a very slippery slope. So the next time you or one of your managers prepare to embark on the interviewing process, be sure you’re up-to-speed on what’s appropriate and more importantly, what’s legal.

Questions that delve into certain protected categories - age, race, national origin, gender or pregnancy status, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status – having no job-related basis can be in violation of state and federal discrimination laws. So be prepared; keep it professional and remember, it’s all in the asking.

Do not ask:
How long have you been working - when did you graduate - what is your birthday?What type of discharge did you receive in the military?Do you have children?What religious holidays do you practice?

What country are you from?

Is English your first language?

Have you ever been arrested?

When was the last time you used illegal drugs?

Rather ask:
How long have you been working in this particular industry?What type of military education, training, and experience did you receive?What hours can you work? Are you able to travel for work?Are you able to work Saturday or Sunday?

Are you authorized to work in the United States?

What other languages do you read, speak or write fluently?

Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Do you currently use illegal drugs? What illegal drugs have you used in the past six months?











Remember too that applicants may politely decline to answer any question(s) they deem to be inappropriate, especially ones like these:

  • Are you married? – is illegal because it reveals marital status and can also reveal sexual preference.
  • Do you socially drink? – violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Bottom line: state questions that relate directly to specific job requirements and qualifications. Any and everything else should be viewed as off-limits.

Information source: “11 common interview questions that are actually illegal,” by Vivian Giang, Business Insider,