Chris Coffee


Most hiring managers know which topics they need to avoid during an interview. Typically, you won’t be asked a question that obviously violates anti-discrimination or privacy laws.

However, some questions are far more subtle, though they are still asking you to provide information that is inherently protected. If you are asked any of the questions below, don’t feel pressured into volunteering the information, as they may be violating your rights.

Your Last Name Seems Familiar? Does Your Spouse Work in the Area?

A hiring manager isn’t allowed to base a hiring decision on a candidate’s marital status, such any question that could be used to determine whether you are single, married, or divorced isn’t something you have to answer.

In some cases, the hiring manager is simply trying to build a rapport, but others may be seeking details that might impact their decision. If you encounter a question like this, feel free to state that you would prefer to steer clear of personal questions and focus on your professional attributes instead.

Do You Have, or Are You Considering Having, Children?

Being asked about the current or future state of your family is generally considered inappropriate. Similarly, requesting details about childcare arrangements is typically off limits.

Making a hiring decision based on whether someone has children could violate Title VII, as it usually involves gender-based discrimination. If asked this question, use the advice above and ask if the conversation could focus on what you have to offer as a professional. Alternatively, if the opportunity arises, you can try and shift the conversation to another, more suitable topic.

How Much Longer Do You Plan to Remain in the Workforce?

Age is a topic that is largely considered inappropriate, if not downright illegal. While this question doesn’t ask you to reveal your age, it can be used to gauge it.

Ultimately, if you believe your visible age is impacting the hiring manager’s perception, put their minds at ease by discussing any recently acquired skills you’ve gained or learning opportunities you embraced. You can also mention how you build a rapport with team members across multiple generations if you believe the hiring manager is worried about cultural fit.

I See You Spent Time in the Military. Have You Ever Been Treated for PTSD?

Questions about current or past health conditions are a no-go. Similarly, asking about your use of sick leave in your previous role, your smoking habits, or alcohol consumption isn’t acceptable.

However, an employer can ask if you can perform the duties associated with the job, usually with or without a reasonable accommodation. If this comes up, you don’t have to disclose the points behind your answer. A simple yes or no will suffice.

In the majority of cases, hiring managers understand the rules regarding what can be asked. But, if a question seems to pry into an area that might be protected, understand your rights and work to steer the conversation into more reasonable territory.

If you are looking for a new job opportunity, the skilled professionals at Choice Technology Group can connect you with some of today’s top employers. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced recruiters today and see how our services can help you take the next step in your career.