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Commonly Asked Illegal Questions in the Interview Process

Posted by Erin Borgerson on November 3, 2014

During job interviews, franchise employers will try to gather as much information about the interviewee as possible. While most questions asked during the interview process are legal there is always the possibility a franchisee or general manager may ask a question that is considered to be illegal. According to The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), any questions relating to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or genetic information are illegal. It is up to the employer to recognize these types of questions before conducting an interview.

While most franchisees certainly know questions relating to race, religion and sex, etc. are illegal, a number of conversational topics anyone might ask to get to know someone or alleviate a potential hires nerves before an interview are considered illegal.

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Below is a list of illegal interview questions that are commonly mistaken to be appropriate.

  1. Have you ever been arrested?

An employer cannot legally ask an interviewee if they have ever been arrested, but they are able to ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime. According to an article published in USA Today, the crime should reasonably relate to the performance of the job description.

  1. Do you have children?

It is unlawful for an employer to deny a potential candidate employment if they have children or are planning to have children in the future. If the employer wants to know how dedicated the interviewee will be with their job they are able to ask questions such as; “What hours can your work?” or “This job requires occasional overtime, will this be an issue?”

  1. Where are you from?

This question is related to a person’s national or regional origin, which is considered unlawful to ask during an interview. Instead, the employer should ask if the interviewee is authorized to work in the United States.

  1. What type of discharge did you receive in the military?

This question is not appropriate for an employer to ask as it goes against the EEOC. Employers are allowed to ask what type of training, education and work experience the interviewee received while in the military.

  1. Do you socially drink?

Employers are not allowed to ask this question as it breaks the Americas with Disabilities Act of 1990 and The Rehabilitation Act. Because of the protection under these laws, interviewees do not have to disclose any disability information during the interview process.

Before conducting an interview make sure to review any and all questions and make sure they do not fall under the five that are listed above. If any of the illegal questions are asked during the interview the interviewee has a right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

To learn more tips on how to become an interview professional, download our eBook! 

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Franchise Hiring and the Law


Erin Borgerson

About the Author

Erin is the Director of Marketing, Crisis Controller and Culture Ambassador (the last two titles she gave to herself) who joined the Hireology team in April of 2012. As a certified Inbound Marketer, Erin manages Hireology's marketing department, the Hireology Blog, and media relations. She is also a co-leader of the Chicago Hubspot User Group which brings together Hubspot users from around the Chicagoland area. Erin set off to Chicago after graduating from Western Michigan University. In her spare time she can be found shaking it in a Zumba class, reading a bestseller, or drinking a craft beer on her Wrigleyville porch.