Of course, job interviews are moments to take questions, and as an applicant, it’s never the most comfortable moments irrespective of how much you have prepared. Not because you think you are not qualified, but thoughts of “what if I fail the simplest question?” and the fear of losing out easily. Those thoughts are normal, but you should understand that employers have fears too – they are not just on the wheel to ask anything.

As a candidate going for an interview, it’s important to take note of the illegal job interview questions. It helps you to (at least) understand the employer’s limits, and when not to respond. Knowing your right and operating within your limit is paramount in every corporate affair. Remember there are government legislations every employer must abide and this begins with not asking illegal questions at interviews.

Also, you should note that illegal interview questions are not peculiar to any class of company, a Human Resources Attorney in Chicago; Charles Krugel says “Even trained hiring managers and recruiters sometimes ask illegal questions.” Good knowledge of your  rights as stated by Act of 1964 (for Americans) and the Employment Standards Act and Human Rights laws ((both federally and provincially)) (for Canadians) and other pertinent regulations are very important as you respond to any illegal job interview question.

  1. Do you have kids or when are you planning to?

It’s understandable that a hiring manager may have concern over potential productivity-affecting factors an applicant would be exposed to after gaining employment. But how an employee plans to manage personal affairs such as pregnancy and childcare system is not their calls to take. This is because sex is a federally protected class and even if you have planned to have children for instance the following year, it remains a tentative arrangement.

Sex is a federally protected class, which means an employer cannot discriminate against a male or female job applicant. According to a (U.S.) employment law attorney at Nilan Johnson Lewis, Lisa Schmid, while an employer is accessing applicant’s ability to perform their duties, they may ask the applicant about job-related responsibilities such as a possible number of travels per month, etc. Also, the question may be learning if the applicant has restrictions that would prevent them from getting the job done.

  1. What country are you from?

National origin is a federally protected class. Hence, employers can’t use a candidate’s origin as an employment factor.

  1. Do you have any mental or physical disabilities?

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) charges employers not to discriminate against (qualified) employees or applicants with disability. In Canada, the accessibility and disability legislation at both the federal level and provincial would apply in addition to Human Rights Codes.. This extends to private employers with a minimal number of employees. The law also prohibits employers from asking applicants questions about their disabilities before or after offering a job. However, employers are allowed to ask this question only if it’s directed to all applicants – not selected individuals. For example, 

  1. Are you a native English speaker?

Employers are allowed to conduct language proficiency tests, (where it is a bona fide employment requirement only); they can not ask whether you are a native speaker. This illegal job interview question is related to the second question on this list. It’s a way to inquire where you are coming from, which is prohibited. Note Canada’s Official Languages Act specifies both the English and French languages and affords them special protection.

  1. Will you need time off for religious holidays?

This question stands as a religious discrimination which is prohibited according to the federal and provincial law. Employers are not allowed to hire employees based on their religious practices or belief.