If you’ve been applying for jobs online, you may have noticed a trend: Companies requiring you to take a personality test before you’re contacted by a hiring manager, or schedule an interview. Big companies – especially in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries - are getting so many applications, they’re using online tests to eliminate people who aren’t qualified. But know this: A lot of the questions they’re asking can’t be asked until you’ve been offered a job. 

Let me explain. Companies can only ask questions up front that are relevant to the job, like “You’re on a break, and a customer spills soda everywhere. But the person who’s supposed to mop it up is helping another customer. What do you do?” 

But it’s against the law to ask questions that deal with your mental state, like: Do you agree or disagree with the statement: “I often lose my patience with others.” Or this one: “There’s no use having close friends, because they always let you down.” That’s because those questions are considered a medical examination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And could discriminate against applicants with mental issues, like depression, or explosive anger disorder. 

Of course, once a company offers you a job, they can ask disability-related questions. Or require you to take a medical exam. 

But the bottom line is this: If you see online test questions that are more about your personality than your job qualifications, you might want to apply elsewhere.