Understanding “The Following is Not Included in the Interview”


Interview is a pivotal moments in the hiring process, offering candidates and employers the opportunity to evaluate mutual compatibility. They are designed to probe a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and cultural fit within an organization.

However, the statement the title signifies certain aspects that are important during the interview process. Understanding what is not important and what can help both interviewers and candidates navigate the interview landscape more effectively.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the various elements typically excluded from interviews, the reasons behind their exclusion, and how both interviewers and candidates can prepare for a more focused and productive interview experience.

Defining the Scope of Interviews

Interviews are structured conversations with the primary goal of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role within an organization. The scope of interviews typically includes:

  • Professional Qualifications: Education, certifications, and relevant training.
  • Work Experience: Previous job roles, responsibilities, and achievements.
  • Skills and Competencies: Technical abilities, soft skills, and specific competencies related to the job.
  • Cultural Fit: Alignment with the company’s values, culture, and work environment.

By clearly defining these areas, interviews can be conducted more effectively, focusing on what truly matters in evaluating a candidate’s fit for the role.

Commonly Excluded Topics in Interviews

To ensure a fair, relevant, and respectful interview process, certain topics are usually excluded. Here’s a closer look at these topics and the rationale behind their exclusion:

Personal Life and Family

Why It’s Excluded:

Personal questions about family life, marital status, or children are generally avoided to prevent discrimination and to respect the candidate’s privacy. These aspects are often irrelevant to a candidate’s ability to perform job duties.

Examples of Excluded Questions:

  • “Are you married?”
  • “Do you have any children?”
  • “What are your childcare arrangements?”


Such questions can lead to biased judgments and potential discrimination based on family status or personal life, which are unrelated to professional capabilities.

Salary History and Expectations

Why It’s Excluded:

Discussing salary history is increasingly seen as inappropriate, as it can perpetuate wage gaps and biases. Instead, discussions about salary expectations are often postponed until later stages of the hiring process or handled separately.

Examples of Excluded Questions:

  • “What was your previous salary?”
  • “How much are you looking to earn?”


To promote fairness and equity, many organizations focus on the value of the role itself rather than a candidate’s past earnings. This approach helps to eliminate biases related to previous compensation and promotes equal pay for equal work.

Political and Religious Beliefs

Why It’s Excluded:

Questions about political or religious beliefs are typically avoided to respect personal boundaries and to prevent any form of discrimination or bias.

Examples of Excluded Questions:

  • “What political party do you support?”
  • “What is your religion?”


Such inquiries are irrelevant to a candidate’s professional abilities and can lead to a hostile or uncomfortable interview environment. Ensuring that these topics are off-limits helps maintain a focus on job-related competencies.

Medical and Health Information

Why It’s Excluded:

Questions about medical history or health conditions are usually excluded to comply with privacy laws and to prevent discrimination based on health status.

Examples of Excluded Questions:

  • “Do you have any medical conditions we should know about?”
  • “How often do you take sick leave?”


Medical information is private and protected by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities, but they should not inquire about medical details during the interview process.

Previous Employers’ Proprietary Information

Why It’s Excluded:

Candidates are often asked about their experiences with previous employers, but they should never be asked to disclose proprietary or confidential information.

Examples of Excluded Questions:

  • “Can you share details about your last project’s proprietary technology?”
  • “What strategies did your previous company use for their competitive advantage?”


Respecting confidentiality agreements and ethical standards is crucial. Candidates should not be put in a position where they feel pressured to reveal sensitive information that could violate prior agreements or legal standards.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Ensuring that certain topics are excluded from interviews is not just a matter of best practice; it is also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. Laws and regulations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws in the United States protect candidates from discrimination based on factors like race, gender, age, religion, and disability.

Key Legal Frameworks:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws: Prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination and requires reasonable accommodations.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): In the European Union, this regulation governs the handling of personal data, ensuring privacy and protection for individuals.

Ethical Standards:

Ethical hiring practices emphasize fairness, transparency, and respect for the candidate’s privacy. Adhering to these standards helps build a positive reputation for the organization and fosters trust with potential employees.

Preparing for an Interview

Preparation is key for both employers and candidates to ensure a productive and focused interview. Here’s how both parties can get ready:

For Employers

  1. Define Job Requirements: Clearly outline the qualifications, skills, and experience needed for the role.
  2. Prepare Relevant Questions: Develop a list of questions that align with the job requirements and focus on professional competencies.
  3. Training Interviewers: Ensure that all interviewers are trained on legal and ethical standards, as well as on the company’s specific policies regarding interviews.

For Candidates

  1. Understand the Job Description: Familiarize yourself with the requirements and responsibilities of the position.
  2. Prepare Your Responses: Think about how your experience and skills align with the job requirements. Practice answering common interview questions.
  3. Know Your Rights: Be aware of your rights during the interview process, including what questions are inappropriate or illegal.

Navigating Tricky Questions

Despite best efforts, sometimes interviewers may ask questions that tread into sensitive or irrelevant territory. Here’s how candidates can navigate these situations:

Politely Redirecting

If an interviewer asks a question that is inappropriate or irrelevant, it’s best to respond politely but firmly. For example:

  • Inappropriate Question: “Do you have any children?”
  • Response: “I prefer to keep my personal life separate from my professional life, but I’m happy to discuss how my skills and experience align with this role.”

Seeking Clarification

If a question is ambiguous or seems off-topic, asking for clarification can help redirect the conversation:

  • Ambiguous Question: “What’s your background?”
  • Response: “Could you please clarify which aspect of my background you’re interested in? Are you referring to my professional experience or education?”

Knowing When to Escalate

If a question feels particularly invasive or discriminatory, it may be necessary to escalate the issue:

  • Response: “I’m not comfortable answering that question. Is there someone in HR I can speak with about the scope of the interview?”

The Role of Company Policy

Company policies play a crucial role in guiding the interview process and ensuring that it adheres to legal and ethical standards. Clear policies help interviewers understand what is and isn’t appropriate to ask, and provide a framework for conducting fair and consistent interviews.

Elements of a Good Interview Policy:

  • Legal Compliance: Ensure all questions and practices comply with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Focus on Job Relevance: Emphasize questions that are directly related to the candidate’s ability to perform the job.
  • Training and Resources: Provide training for interviewers and resources to help them conduct effective interviews.

Implementing Policies:

  • Regular Training: Conduct regular training sessions to keep interviewers updated on legal requirements and best practices.
  • Documentation: Keep thorough documentation of the interview process and decisions to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Implement feedback mechanisms for candidates to report any concerns about the interview process.

The Impact of Omitting Certain Topics

Excluding certain topics from interviews can have a profound impact on the overall process and outcomes. Here’s how:

Enhancing Fairness

By focusing solely on job-related questions, interviews become more equitable. Candidates are assessed based on their qualifications and abilities rather than personal factors that have no bearing on their professional performance.

Reducing Bias

Avoiding questions about personal life, salary history, and other sensitive topics helps reduce unconscious bias. This leads to more objective decision-making and promotes diversity within the organization.

Building Trust

A respectful and focused interview process builds trust between candidates and employers. Candidates are more likely to view the organization positively and feel confident that they are being evaluated fairly.

Ensuring Legal Compliance

Adhering to legal standards protects the organization from potential lawsuits and reputational damage. It also ensures that all candidates have a fair opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the role.


Interviews are a critical component of the hiring process, providing a platform for candidates and employers to evaluate each other. By adhering to best practices, legal requirements, and ethical standards, both interviewers and candidates can navigate the interview process more effectively, leading to better hiring decisions and a more positive experience for all parties involved.

Employers should ensure that their interview policies are clear, comprehensive, and regularly updated. Candidates should prepare thoroughly and be aware of their rights during the interview process. Together, these efforts will contribute to a more equitable, transparent, and successful hiring process.

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