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Avoid These Off-Limits Interview Questions

As a recruiter, an employer, or a job candidate, interview preparation is critical. Here are some examples of off-limits interview questions as well as some really solid behavioral question options.

Ten off-limits interview questions:

  • Are you married?

  • Do you have any children?

  • Do you rent or own a home?

  • How many days of work did you miss last year due to illness?

  • What are your daycare arrangements?

  • Are you comfortable supervising men?

  • Do you own a car?

  • How old are you?

  • Are you living with anyone?

  • Do you have any disabilities that might affect your work?

I guess those sound pretty easy to avoid. Hiring managers sometimes think they are clever when they can get the candidate to volunteer information like this, and then they note it on the resume or interview form. BAD IDEA!!! All questions should focus on how the candidate is qualified to do the job. Do not make a note of protected details; rather, change the subject and move on quickly to a job-related topic.

Below are a few behavioral focused questions. Again, some of these could get you in trouble if the candidate starts getting off the topic. Refocus the interview to the question and do not make notes on protected information.

To avoid the “tell me about yourself” or “if you were an animal, what kind would you be,” consider these options.


  • Tell me about things you have accomplished at work that make you proud.

Connection to Company/Brand and Product/Services

  • Why do you think people would do business with our company over a competitive company?

  • Why do customers need the products and services we create?

Fans and Critics

  • What would your biggest fan say about you and your work?

  • What would a critic point out about your work?


  • Does work ever make you smile? Why or why not?


  • What is the best piece of feedback you have ever received? How did it change your actions and results?


  • Can you think of a work disaster that you were a part of? What role did you play, and what would you have done differently, given the chance?

There are thousands more. Try to keep it work-focused. Make the candidate comfortable and seek to understand their style, motivation, and abilities as you do the interview.



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