Josephine's Personnel Services, Inc.

3 Questions Interviewers Can (and Can’t!) Ask You

October 21st, 2014

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your rights to secure a job. When it comes to interviewing, most people see it as a one-sided conversation. Interviews, in fact, are a give-and-take between you and your potential employer. Many times, interviewees will answer anything the interviewer asks them, even if the question is illegal. Here is a guide to what questions interviewers can and cannot ask potential applicants.


Photo Courtesy of: bpsusf via Flickr

3 Questions Interviewers Can Ask You

  1. About Physical Requirements or Limitations

An interviewer may ask if you can stand/sit for a certain period of time or if you can lift a certain quantity of weight essential to the job function. Even if you have disclosed a disability, they may still ask this question but they may not ask about health status or illnesses.

  1. Legal Convictions

Crimes you have been convicted of are public record, so you don’t want to be caught in a lie. Interviewers are allowed to ask if you have been convicted of specific crimes, but they are not allowed to ask loaded or incriminating questions such as “Have you ever been arrested?”

  1. Travel and Overtime

Interviewers may not ask candidates, specifically women, if they have family obligations that would stop them from work travel and overtime. Instead, employers may ask how the employee feels about travel requirements and if they are alright with long hours.

3 Questions Interviewers Can’t Ask You

  1. Your Gender or Family Status

Employers are not permitted to ask questions about your gender or if applicable, questions about a gender transition. As innocent a question as it may seem, they are also not allowed to ask you if you are married, single or have children. It is illegal to make hiring decisions based on family or marital status, so there is no reason these types of questions should come up in an interview.

  1. Residency

Questions about whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, or how long you have resided in the U.S. are off-limits. Interviewers are also not allowed to ask you questions about where you are currently living, such as how long you commute is or if you live nearby. This is considered personal information until a job offer is made, and could allow for discrimination against candidates who live farther than others.

  1. Clubs or Associations

Asking interviewees which clubs and associations they are a part of is not allowed. This can open the interviewee up to religious discrimination. Employers also can’t ask which holidays you celebrate or if you attend any religious ceremonies.

If you have any questions about interview questions and what may be legal, don’t hesitate to contact Josephine’s Professional Staffing.


About Josephine’s Professional Staffing

Founded in 1988, Josephine’s Professional Staffing has nearly 25 years of business success and is continuously committed to providing superior quality staffing solutions to companies in the Bay Area. We proactively and consistently search for avenues to provide staffing solutions in the field of administrative, accounting, healthcare, light industrial, technical and professional services while taking pride in each of our employees. Josephine’s Professional Staffing is a Certified Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Underutilized Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (UDBE), Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (EDWOSB),  and Minority Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE). We can be reached at or 408.943.0111 and are located at 2158 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131

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