In my country it is illegal for future employers to ask about an applicant's age. However, some unaffiliated (with the companies I am applying to) recruiters have asked me about my birth date.

Is there a reason for them doing so? Should I be worried about this information being passed on to potential employers?

EDIT: I appreciate the suggestions regarding how to deal with the issue, however I'm more interested to know what is the actual reason for recruiters for doing so. Since it is in their interest to find me a job, wouldn't they prefer not to disclose information which could theoretically discriminate me?

  • @Myles Said recruiters are based in the same country as I am. I doubt they are unaware of the law.
    – user34397
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 18:59
  • 1st January 1901 is always a good one to use if requested by someone who doesn't have need to know.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 19:04
  • 4
    Give them the day and month. If they ask the year point out the potential conflict with the law. Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 19:22
  • You're assuming an awful lot about recruiters. All it takes to be a 3rd party recruiter these days is a phone line and a computer (it's actually very easy to get a phone number with a foreign area code). There is almost zero barrier to entry. This doesn't mean that all recruiters are unprofessional. Not at all. It just means that the typical recruiter that contacts you out of the blue is probably such a person. He's most likely untrained, unprofessional, probably never had a successful placement before, and maybe very desperate. Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 22:16
  • 2
    Its not illegal for a company to ask, its illegal for them to discriminate. you are under no obligation to tell them that information and its illegal for them to force it our of you, but they are allowed to ask. If you decide to tell them that is up to you. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 10:25

2 Answers 2


The freelance recruiter usually gets paid for successfully filling a position. He is not interested to find you a job, he is interested to make a successful deal. If he knows his chances are higher when he refers younger candidates to company A for example, he will focus on those.

This way the company A never even gets into the situation where they could possibly discriminate. An elegant way around any discrimination laws.

  • Excellent answer. In addition, the recruiter will often have an off-the-record conversation with the client that asks, "So what are you looking for? Young, old, male, female, cheap, expert, trainee?" Again, an elegant way around any inconvenient laws. Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 17:33

Because, in the US, it is not illegal to ask you anything. In this case, it simply opens up the company to claims of age discrimination. But employers can ask you literally anything. You are under no obligation to answer any of their questions either.

Most employers avoid certain questions, specifically about age, ethnicity, religion, if you have or are planning to have children, sexuality, and any other protected classifications. But that is their choice, and mostly done to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

In most discrimination cases there is no hard proof that it happened like an executive admitting the practice, or emails that overtly address a policy of discrimination or even discrimination in individual cases. Instead they rely on a pattern of behavior that appears to show discrimination. Asking these types of question in an interview is a big red flag to juries that want to sympathize. So companies have learned to just avoid doing those things that look bad.