11 interview questions you should never answer directly


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At best, these topics have little bearing on a job candidate's abilities. At worst, they could land you with a lawsuit.

You may think a question about whether or not you have kids is totally innocuous small talk, but it's one of many questions best left unanswered during a job interview.


While very few specific interview questions are by themselves illegal to ask, Laura Davis, an associate professor with the Department of Finance and Legal Studies at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, explains in the Journal of Employment and Labor Law that some questions may be used as evidence of discrimination and, so, are ill-advised for interviewers to ask.

"Since it is reasonable to assume that all questions in an interview are asked for some purpose and that hiring decisions are made on the basis of the answers given, any question asked during the interview can be used as circumstantial evidence of a prohibited discriminatory motive," she says.

In the US, certain personal characteristics are part of a protected class and can't be targeted for discrimination thanks to certain federal or state antidiscrimination laws.

"Even without any intentional ill will, employers who have knowledge concerning the protected class status of applicants may make biased assumptions about their capabilities or work habits," Davis says.


That's why, to protect against claims of discrimination, hiring managers are frequently advised to steer clear of asking certain questions altogether and stick to questions that focus on the specific criteria needed for a candidate to perform the job.

Unfortunately, not all hiring managers are informed about discrimination laws. So a good rule of thumb for job candidates, then, is to sidestep any questions that are blatantly irrelevant to the role you're interviewing for and specifically to avoid answering the following questions directly: