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Top 3 Questions You Can't Ask Female Applicants

By Laura Strachan, Esq. | Last updated on

Women face issues in the workforce. Like it or not, women are often discriminated against, even before being hired for a job. Despite potential lawsuits, some employers insist on asking inappropriate questions during the job interview process that border on illegality.

Employers need to do their research for interviews, too. Being prepared for the applicant and an interview will not only allow for a better line of questioning but also a legal one. With that in mind, here are the top 3 questions you can't ask female applicants:

1.) What's your relationship status? More than anything this question provides no insight into the applicant's capabilities as an employee. Whether an applicant is single, married, or divorced is an illegal question on both the state and federal level and something that should be left out of formal and informal interview conversations.

2.) Are you currently taking any form of birth control or fertility treatment? Ok this one may be a little on the obvious side but it drives the point home -- an employer simply cannot inquire about whether a women is planning a family. While it is perfectly legal to ask about experience, motivation, and interests, child-rearing questions cannot be this probing.

3.) Do you have any kids that are going to stress you out and keep you from working? Again, an extreme example but asking about children is another off-limits topic for an interview, unless you are looking for a sexual harassment case. A more appropriate and legal interview question would be asking whether she anticipates absences from work on a regular basis, or whether she has commitments that will take her away from her normal work schedule.

One interesting trend among the questions you can't ask female applicants is: They provide very little, if any, insight into whether or not the candidate will make a good employee.

Concerns over personal and family life, which make up the bulk of illegal female interview questions, may have the underlying purpose of a legitimate business operation concern. There are other ways to determine if something might affect job performance that do not rise to the level of an illegal female interview question. Don't forget that employment discrimination can happen before an applicant is ever employed.

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