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Illegal Interview Questions

Applicant being asked illegal interview questions

During the interview process you are going to be asked numerous questions on subjects ranging from prior employment history to your future goals and aspirations, and in some cases even illegal interview questions. With the exception of illegal interview questions, most of the time these questions are designed to let the interviewer gain some insight into the character and personality of the candidate. Now there are questions deemed illegal and the interviewer is not allowed to even ask them. These illegal interview questions usually focus on age, sex, race, religion, and other similar topics. The reason that these questions are deemed illegal is to safeguard candidates from discrimination.


What are Illegal Interview Questions?

Before you go in for the interviewer make sure you have some understanding of what counts as illegal interview questions. For the most part any question with an answer that might allow the company to discriminate against you is more than likely illegal. If you happen to be asked a question that you believe is inappropriate or illegal you should handle the situation in a tasteful and tactful manner.

Chances are the interviewer may not even be aware that the questions he or she asked in illegal. Approach the questions carefully and try your best to avoid answering it. You can try to test the waters to see what, if anything is the interviewer’s intent on asking the questions.

Does the interviewer mean to be asking illegal interview questions?

Are the questions designed to reveal information that can be used to discriminate against you or other applicants?

Are the questions making you uncomfortable?

Many interviewers fail to realize that there are questions that simply have no place in an interview situation. If you believe that you are asked such a question you can always side step that question to the best of your ability. There may be a situation where the interviewers either insist upon a concrete answer. Feel free to simply tell the interviewer that you are not comfortable answering the question.

While the initial reaction may be to get offended and angry try to remember that more often than not illegal interview questions are asked not from any malicious intent but simply out of carelessness. Approach the matter softly but do not be afraid to leave the interview if you feel it the appropriate form of action.

The best way to deflect a question that makes you feel uncomfortable is through humor. Try turning the line of questioning into a light hearted exchange and then focus on talking about something else. Ask the interviewer some questions or discuss what you feel you can bring to the position and the company.

Below is a List of Illegal Interview Questions along with possible responses to those questions.

How old are you? When is your birthday?

Instead of answering with your age or birth year simply assure the interviewer that you are over 18 and more than capable of handling all the responsibilities and duties the position requires.

Do you plan on having any children?

If you are a woman you may expect to be asked this question at some point. If asked this the employer is probably not trying to act in a discriminating manner. Instead, the employer may be expressing concerns on your capability of traveling if the position requires it and not on if the company will have to worry about maternity leave at a future date.

Simply tell the interviewer that you are focusing on your career and establishing a foundation on which to build a strong future.

What religion do you practice?

While there are some who feel comfortable discussing their religion with others you should not feel that you are required to. Let the interviewer know that you keep your religion out of the workplace and no matter your beliefs you will provide quality service.

Do not be afraid to leave the interview if you believe that the questions being asked are meant to provide a basis for discrimination. For the most part, illegal interview questions are made out of ignorance and not from malicious intent.

Additional Resources:

Illegal Interview Questions EEOC - About.com

Definition of Illegal Interview Questions - About.com

How to Answer Illegal Interview Questions - About.com


Adapted From The Everything Job Interview Book, 2nd Edition by Joy Darlington and Nancy Schuman, Copyright © 2008, 2001 by F W Media, Inc., published by Adams Media, a division of F W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publisher.

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