Inappropriate questions at a job interview

8 December 2022

What are inappropriate questions? How to respond to them? The interview process is an opportunity for the company to get to know the candidate. But also a chance for the candidate to learn more about the company and the position. However, there are certain questions that should never be asked. It is worth understanding the difference between prohibited questions and questions subject to penalties. Remember that not every question violates labor laws.

nieodpowienie pytania Inappropriate questions

What kind of questions can a recruiter ask during the job interview? 

During the job interview, there can be an impression of interrogation. The recruiter asks, notes, and moves to another one – it is up to no good. The person leading the conversation (rather than the interrogation!) should listen to you and get to know you better. They should not focus on questions about previous job experiences only, which by the way can be easily found on the CV. Recruiters’ questions can sometimes surprise you. That is why we have compiled a list of questions that will help you learn more about inappropriate questions. Take a look and do not let them surprise you! 

Questions about bad habits 

Keep an eye out for questions about personal habits. These questions are unrelated to the job and are frequently used to discriminate against candidates. They often violate anti-harassment laws and create a hostile work environment. If you are asked an inappropriate question at an interview, it is a good idea to ask the interviewer why he or she wants to know the answer. Do not be scared. And remember that you can point out that this is irrelevant to the position they are interviewing for. 

Know your rights

If at any point in your life you were rejected because of your age, race, or gender, you might want to consider taking legal action. 
According to National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) gender stereotypes are one of the most common forms of discrimination in today’s hiring practices. Gender stereotypes can include “women cannot perform this job” or “men do not have time for their families”. Examples such as these are illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and religion (labor laws).


Your family is not relevant to the job. Asking such questions during the job interview is illegal and can cost the recruiter their job. Why would they want to know if you have kids? A concrete reason should justify such questions. (e.g.: no access to childcare from the company’s side)

Tricky questions

An exciting conversation arose recently at CandidFuture. It referred to questions like “What was the last book you read?.”. Seemingly a simple question, but what can hide underneath? 

  1. this question can be an interesting addition to the conversation,
  2. it can be a relaxing question,
  3. It can be a stressful moment for the candidate.

Why is that? These types of questions can cause distress. People who, for various reasons, do not feel the vibe of fiction may feel put at the sport and are often at the loss. There are plenty of people who do not read but gain knowledge in a different way. The beliefs of a given recruiter may consider such a person unwilling to develop.
Therefore, if a recruiter surprises you with such a question, inquire about its expediency. Maybe they do not want to evaluate your book knowledge at all!

What questions does the employer have the right to ask? 

During the interview potential employers can ask questions regarding personal information.
This list includes name and surname, date of birth, place of residence, parents’ names, education, and experience. However, it is worth asking whether information about parental data is needed at the first stage in the recruitment process. ?

How to respond to inappropriate questions?

During an interview, a prospective employer will ask questions from the list above… What should you do? If a question is asked at the interview that you do not want to answer – say so. It is worth cooling down the enthusiasm of a curious recruiter. It may turn out that they did not mean to put you in such a situation at all. Another option is to respond – briefly but meaningfully – if we are comfortable with it. A third solution is to ask the recruiter about the purpose of the question.

Recruit a recruiter

During the conversation, the candidate has the right to ask questions. Take advantage of it! Find out more about the job position, the team, or the job itself. You can find a list of sample questions here.


We hope this list of questions to avoid during a job interview has shed some light on what types of inquiries are considered inappropriate. It is important to remember that the purpose of a job interview is not to catch someone in a lie… but rather to understand their skills, experience, and willingness to work in the position. Asking questions about past behavior or personal lives may be tempting during these first interactions. But doing so could potentially land employers in legal trouble down the road! If you are looking for more information on how to prepare for an interview or how to conduct one yourself, check out our post on the topic.

About the Authors

Natalia ?‍⬛

- LinkedIn

Experienced Tech Sourcing Partner and  Marketing Specialist. She shares her insights, thoughts, and tips with developers considering a career change. Currently venturing into the worlds of Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing.