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.


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.