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Behavioral Interviewing Guide: Illegal Interview Questions

A guide to prohibited questions during the interview process.

Protected Characteristics

Federal and California legislation mandates that organizations practice nondiscriminatory actions during the hiring process. This means that, by law, you are not allowed to make hiring decisions based on anything other than bona fide occupational qualifications. In the state of California you cannot discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Religious creed
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Mental or Physical Disability
  • Medical condition (specifically cancer-related conditions and genetic characteristics)
  • Marital status
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, and gender identity)
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation

Employment decisions, including hiring, cannot be made based on these protected characteristics.

It is suggested that interviewers avoid questions which can appear casual, such as "What do you do in your free time?" or "Where did you grow up?" but can elicit answers that contain this protected information.

Salary History

If a candidate asks about salary, you are required to provide the compensation department's hiring range for the position. You may ask what the candidate's salary requirements are but you are prohibited by law from asking about past or current or salary details.

If you have questions related to this section, please contact [email protected].