Illegal Interview Questions -- Be Prepared
I'll quickly cover the following:
A) Why Employer Ask Illegal Interview Questions.
B) Examples of Illegal Interview Questions.
C) Tips on How To Respond to Illegal Interview Questions.
U.S. law prohibits certain types of questions and you are by no
means required or obligated to answer these questions. These
questions are prohibited for a reason: to keep employers
from unfairly trying to weed you out as a possible employee.
A) WHY EMPLOYERS ASK ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.
The interview is where you get your chance to sell yourself
directly to the employer. During the interview the employer
is obviously trying to learn more about you and how you may or
may not fit in the company.
The main reason why an employer might purposely slip in some
illegal questions is basically to try and get information to
keep you from getting a job. Most illegal questions revolve
around personal information and asking them is usually not
related to the job and is often discriminatory in nature.
Another reason some employers ask illegal questions is because
they just don't know any better. Many interviewers are not
trained at all and simply don't know what is legal versus
illegal. Please keep this in mind, it may just be a poorly
trained, inexperienced or just curious interviewer and not
meant to be harmful or discriminatory at all.
B) EXAMPLES OF ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.
Illegal questions generally fall into 4 categories:
1. Disabilities & Physical Skills
2. Personal Background
3. Race, Creed, or Color
4. Family & Relationship Items
10 Sample Illegal Questions:
1. How tall are you?
2. Are you a US Citizen?
3. How old are you?
4. Are you really a man?
5. Are you Chinese or Japanese?
6. What religion are you?
7. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
8. Have you ever been arrested?
9. Are you married?
10. How many children do you have?
C) TIPS ON HOW TO RESPOND TO ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.
First and foremost, avoid reacting in a hostile fashion -
remember that you can always decide later to decline the
job offer. Your goal during the interview is to try and
get the job offer.
Go ahead and answer the question. If you don't feel
uncomfortable and you think your answer is in your favor, why worry? Go ahead and answer the question and make no mention
that you think its improper or illegal. Just remember that you run the risk of harming your candidacy if you give an answer not
favorable to what the interviewer has in mind.
Refuse to answer the question. You are within your rights
but in a delicate and sensitive area with regards to the
potential job offer. You can say politely that you don't
feel comfortable answering the question and ask to move on.
You may even want to mention to the interviewer that the
question is illegal and doesn't pertain to the job. The
key here is to be as tactful as possible. But keep in mind,
you may come across as confrontational or not a "team player"
in the eyes of the interviewer.
Generally speaking, its better not to confront or debate the
interviewer about the legality of a question. But if you have
any uncertainty about the questions, you should be alert to
any pattern of discrimination?especially if you notice several
illegal questions. Try and remember the questions and speak
the employer's HR director and get answers to what may have
"Helping You Find More Jobs Faster"
Nathan Newberger is the job and career expert at http://www.WorkTree.com. WorkTree.com is the largest job search portal in the world and has been online since 1999. Nathan has over 10 years experience as a both a recruiter and career counselor.