Questions from an Employer to Avoid in an Interview

by Joseph C. Maya on Jun. 19, 2017

Employment Employment  Employment Discrimination 

Summary: A blog post recommending questions employers should avoid asking when interviewing prospective employees.

Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today at (203) 221-3100 or

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination by employers against employees based upon race, color, gender, religion, sex, age, genetic information, or national origin.

A common situation that every employer understands, and has experienced, is the interview process during their search for possible and prospective employees.  During the interview process, the employer both asks and answers questions of the prospective employee so that each party can determine whether the job position is the right fit for both parties.  An employee may ask about relevant past job experience, salary requirements and many other questions related to the work to be performed.  However, such an interview is not a license for an employer to delve into the most private areas of an applicant’s life.  Further, even seemingly innocuous questions from the employer, that they believe would be germane to the duties of the position, may be considered inappropriate and could lead to discrimination claims by an applicant.

To assist employers, the EEOC has provided sample questions regarding topics that, while seemingly innocent, an employer should refrain from broaching with the prospective employee.  The EEOC recommends that an employer refrain from asking questions regarding personal characteristics which are protected by law, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age.  Those types of questions may discourage individuals from applying for jobs which may be considered evidence of discrimination in an EEOC action.  For example, the EEOC recommends that an employer avoid:

  • Questions about race, religion or ethnicity, such as:
    • Are you biracial or what race do you associate with?
    • Which church do you attend?
    • What language(s) do you speak at home?
  • Questions about age, unless used to verify that applicants meet any age-related legal requirements for the job.
  • Questions about an applicant’s pregnancy or plans to start a family, such as:
    • Are you pregnant?
    • Do you plan to have children within the next year?

It is important for an employer to understand that even though an applicant is not yet an employee, an employer may not ask questions of them regarding any personal characteristics which are protected under Title VII, or other Federal and State anti-discrimination laws.  An employer may still be liable for discrimination claims if a prospective employee believes that they have experienced discriminatory treatment, so it is a best practice for any employer to protect themselves starting at the interviewing level.

If you are an employer and are faced with an employee claim of discrimination under Title VII, or are facing a claim under jurisdiction of the EEOC, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.


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