Top Worst Interview Questions

September 20, 2019
Kristjan Kristjansson

An interview is an excellent opportunity both for the recruiter and the candidate. The recruiter has a chance to asses whether the candidate is a good match for the company or not. The potential employee may learn more about a position and a company. In practice, not every job interview is what is supposed to be. Read our list of top worst interview questions.

In this article you’ll learn:

– what questions should be avoided in an interview

– what are the worst interview questions

– what does the positive recruitment experience consists of according to the candidates

– what do the candidates think about asking inappropriate questions

These questions you should never ask

The recruiter is not allowed to ask the following questions. It varies depending on the country, but in some places is not only inappropriate, but also illegal. Generally, it’s strongly adviced against asking about:

  • health condition
  • private life (plans for the future, family members, personal relations, nationality)
  • political and religious affiliations


  • Do you suffer from any chronic diseases?
  • Do you smoke/drink alcohol?
  • Are you addicted to something?
  • Are you planning to have children in the future?
  • When are you planning to get pregnant?
  • Do you regularly go to church?
  • Did you ever belong to a labor union?
  • Do you permanently take any medicine?
  • Do you have any arrest record? (exception: jobs that require no arrest record, e.G. the police)

Instead, focus on:

  • the candidate’s experience
  • education
  • qualifications
  • personal data (including the address and date of birth).
The good news: Most respondents (70%) report “mostly” (39%) or “only positive experiences” (31%) with interviewing or recruiting during their most recent job searches. The downside? Nearly one-third (30%) say their most recent experiences with interviewing or recruiting were negative — showing that there is still work to do.

The way employers treat candidates can have a big impact, and a little positivity can go a long way. In a world dominated by online interactions, enjoyable conversations are worth more than ever — in fact, this is the biggest contributor to a good interview experience (cited by 43% of respondents).

This is followed by transparency regarding salary and benefits packages (42%) and the recruiter or hiring manager being on time and prepared (40%).


There is a grey zone between what’s legal and appropriate and what’s not. For example, asking if the candidate can work on weekends may be considered a question for religious observance. Another example – if the job requires some language skills, asking if the candidate is a “native speaker,” directly points out to the candidate’s nationality. The address may be an indicator of the candidate’s status.

Nearly 4 in 5 candidates (78%) say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people.Career Builder
Nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% have shared their experience on online employer review sites such as Glassdoor.comLinkedIn

How to answer illegal questions

If any of those questions are asked during the interview, the candidate doesn’t have to respond. The best way to answer is:

This question does not affect my ability to perform work at the position I am applying for.
What separates a good interview process from a bad? According to interviewees, slow response times, as well as a lack of feedback and unknown expectations all rank as top reasons for a negative experience. Unfortunately, slow response times are the result of hiring teams that are overwhelmed due to inefficient processes. Candidates report that receiving preparation materials or detailed interview schedules in advance of the on-site makes for a better experience as it allows candidates to understand and meet expectations.Nathan Doctor
Only 46% of employers report making regular improvements to the recruitment processes (at least every six months) that affect the candidate experience.CareerArc

Positive candidate experience

All the positive recruitment stories have a few common points. The elements of a great job interview mentioned by candidates are:

  • outstanding organization
  • friendly and relaxed atmosphere during the meeting
  • clear, sharable process
  • feedback
  • precise expectations
  • information about the further stages of the recruitment process
A better candidate experience means happier candidates, and that makes them more likely to be a champion of your staffing and recruiting firm. This translates to more referrals, higher job engagement, a better work product, and happier returning clients. Lastly, when that talent is looking for their next role, don’t you want them to turn to you again?Kevin O’Brien

Changing the process

Sometimes the companies do even more and completely rearrange their recruitment process. For example like Children’s Mercy Hospital, which allows candidates to introduce themselves with a short video. Then recruiters find the right role for them.

The recruiting team was worried it was missing out on good people, who either gave up on their application or simply applied for the wrong job. To bypass the jargon and help candidates find their fit, the team decided to turn the job search on its head — by getting recruiters to pair candidates with roles instead.

Launched in October 2015, the Introduce Yourself program allows candidates to record a short video interview. In it, they respond to two prompts: “Tell us about your background and experience” and “What would you like to do for Children’s Mercy?”

From there, the recruiting team reviews the videos and recommends roles that seem like a good fit, taking the guesswork out of the search. If there’s nothing suitable at the moment, the Mercy recruiters promise to call candidates when an appropriate role opens up.


Useful links about labor work&positive candidate experience:

The case for providing a positive candidate experience:


Job interview questions that are illegal:


Illegal interview questions:


Ten questions to ask an interviewee:


Interested in recruiting? Read our articles here: