Discriminatory Topics Employers Should Never Ask About in an Interview

The interview is always a very important factor in the process of selecting a new employee. The questions that you ask during a job interview will help you select the best candidate by making sure that they have the right skills, experience, and attitude for the job. Appropriate job interview questions allow you to determine whether or not the candidate is not only a good fit for the position available but also the company culture. However, certain questions are illegal to ask and should be completely off-limits. They have the potential to make your company liable in a discrimination lawsuit according to employment law and could land you in serious trouble. So, what questions should you avoid asking?

Medical Information

While it’s okay to ask a candidate with a disability or health problems if there is anything you could do as an employer to make their work-life easier, that is as far as it should go. As an employer, you have no reason to ask potential job candidates about their health unless they volunteer information first. For example, if you are interviewing a candidate who is a wheelchair user, they might ask about accessibility in the office. You may answer the question about accessibility and discuss their requirements, but do not pursue the topic further.

Family Life

Asking a candidate about their marital or family status should always be avoided. For example, you should not ask a candidate about the arrangements that they will make for childcare while they are in work. Similar to health topics, you may discuss your policies for flexible working or other support that a candidate may need with their family life if they bring it up first. For example, your candidate might tell you that they will require a flexible schedule because they have kids in school; you can discuss their options with them.

Race & Ethnicity

A candidate’s race or ethnicity should have no bearing on their ability to do the job. There should be no reason for you to ask any personal questions relating to a candidate’s race or ethnicity at any point during the interview. This includes questions regarding how they feel about certain issues pertaining to their ethnicity such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Your candidate is free to bring their race or ethnicity up themselves should they wish, but as an interviewer, it’s best to simply listen to whatever they have to say.


A candidate’s religious beliefs should never be brought up in an interview. It is not appropriate to ask a candidate whether they will need personal time off for a particular religious holiday, for example. Your candidate might bring their religion up during the interview, for example, it might be a part of the things that they like to do during their spare time – but it’s best to steer away from the topic in the conversation; listen to their answer and then move on.