To prevent discrimination, a number of states have laws regulating what kind of questions may be asked in job interviews. Here is a list of the most frequent permitted and prohibited questions. It should serve you as a general guide – but because there may be minor variations, be certain to check with the correct human or civil rights agency in your state for those specifically applicable to you. For more information on interviewing best practices or for any questions related to your search for a new senior leader, contact Leigh Taylor at 571-326-9547.


Permitted – You may ask an applicant their name.

Prohibited – You may not ask for the original name of an applicant when it has been changed legally.


Permitted – Address and length of time the applicant has lived there.

Prohibited – Inquiry into any foreign address.


Permitted – Asking an applicant if they can provide a birth certificated after hiring.

Prohibited – Asking the birthplace of an applicant, his parents, spouse and children; requiring an applicant to show a birth certificate or baptismal record before hiring.


Prohibited - Asking an applicant his religion, or religious holidays, the name of his church or pastor. Also, saying, “This is a Catholic/Protestant/Jewish/atheist organization.”

Race or Color

Prohibited - You may not ask the applicant any questions concerning race, skin color, hair color, eye color, etc.


Prohibited - You may not ask for a photograph before the interview, after the interview but before hiring, or even at the applicant's option.


Permitted - Asking who referred the applicant to your company.

Prohibited - Asking for a religious reference.


Permitted - Asking an applicant's age and if they can show proof if hired, if it is an occupational requirement or needed to satisfy laws.

Prohibited - Insisting upon seeing a birth certificate or baptismal record before hiring.


Permitted - Only if it is a bona fide occupational requirement.

Prohibited - Questions which adversely affect the employment opportunities of women as a class, i.e., pregnancy, plans for marriage, childcare.


Permitted - Questions about an applicant's education (academic, vocational or professional), and what public or private school they attended.

Prohibited - Questions about the nationality, racial or religious affiliation of any school they have attended.


Permitted - The name and address of a person to notify in case of an emergency.

Prohibited - The name of a relative to notify in such a case.


Permitted - An applicant may list their memberships in any organization, except those which indicate the race, religion, color or national origin of its members.

Prohibited - Asking them to list all organizations of which they are a member.

Work Schedule

Permitted - Telling them the required work schedule and asking if they are willing to follow it. However, the co-op is required to make accommodation for an employee's religious beliefs.

Prohibited - Asking them if they are willing to work on any particular religious holiday.