In past articles, I have talked about how to develop interview questions and why behavioral interview questions are important. I also shared with you the best interview questions to ask.

In this article, I will give you tips on the types of questions you should never ask and why.

It is understandable when you are interviewing that you want to know as much as possible about your potential new employee. We all have an obvious need to know about a job applicant’s work experience.

And then there is also that natural curiosity about aspects of an applicant’s personal life that can be mistaken for information that a hiring manager needs to know in order to determine whether the job candidate is a good fit for the company.

In actuality, there is a very thin line between learning more about your candidate and asking questions that are considered inappropriate or illegal to ask during an interview.

So it is extremely important to be cognizant of not only the best interview questions to ask but also the questions that you should absolutely avoid asking.

The best to look on is if the question has nothing to do with the skills, the tasks, or the experience needed to perform the job effectively, you really should not be asking the question.

The types of questions that you really want to avoid asking include:

• Are you married or divorced?

• Do you have children?

• Are you single?

• What church do you attend?

• Well, your name sounds very unusual, what ethnicity is it?

• How old are you?

• What year did you graduate from high school or college?

Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule.

For example, if you are interviewing teenagers for a particular job, there may be restrictions on whether you can hire the teenager based on their age or based on the type of work that you are hiring the teen to perform. This is at least true in the USA.

In this example, you will want to make sure that you are not violating any state laws by finding out during the interview if the candidate is at a certain point of age. In this case, it is okay for you to state that the law requires that you be at least 16 years of age or older. And you can ask the question, “Are you at least 16 years of age or older?”

I have several years of hiring experience. But I do want to let you know that I am not an employment lawyer. So I would recommend that if you have any questions that you want to ask during the interview that are personal in nature, but you think that the questions are pertinent to the job you should really consult with an employment lawyer.

Remember that any question that you ask that does not relate to the job or the experience needed, or questions that are personal in nature may make the candidate wondering if the reason they were not hired have less to do with their experience and more to do with your opinions about their culture, their personal life, their beliefs or their age.

As you can imagine, these perceptions can open up a Pandora’s Box of problems for you and your business so you want to stay away from those types of questions.

Job candidates who perceived that they were treated unfairly may be more likely to complain about your hiring process.

As I have shared in a previous podcast, prepare for your interview by writing down the work and skills that relate to questions that you want to ask your questions in order to determine their overall experience relative to the job. Review your questions and make sure that you are not asking any questions that have no bearing on the job that you are hiring for.

Author's Bio: 

Dianne Shaddock is the Founder of Easy Small Business, a website which provides “Quick and Simple Human Resources Strategies for Small Businesses, Non Profits, and Entrepreneurs". Go to for more tips on how to hire and manage your staff more effectively. Easy Small Business HR, Your Personal HR Consultant!