Illegal Interview Questions: How To Handle Them

Legal interview questions come in all shapes in sizes and local employment laws will dicate which ones are illegal. Typically, the following topics are off limits for interviews and are not considered to be legal interview questions:
Age

Marital Status

Information about your spouse or significant other

Race

Sexual orientation

Religion

Political affiliation

Country of birth

Physical disabilities

Your plans to have children

Other personal information that does not directly relate to the job

You should only be asked legal interview questions during an interview but let’s face it, chances are good that you will run into an interviewer at some point that will ask you one of more of these not-so legal interview questions. You can choose to answer the question(s) in one of three ways:

1. You could choose not to answer the question which will probably ruin your chances at the job.

No, this isn’t fair but it is often the reality if you choose this route. I’m not sure I’d want to work for a company that hires managers who treat people this way anyways to be honest.

2. You could choose to answer the question.

In other words, you tell the interviewer the honest answer to the question.

3. You could choose to ignore the question and handle the possible reason for asking such a question.

If for example you were asked your age and you are young, you might respond by saying that you are experienced beyond your years if you suspect the interviewer feels you are too young for the position.

If you are more experienced and feel that the interviewer might believe you to be too old for the position, you might suggest that your experience brings a unique insight to the role that a less experienced candidate couldn’t bring.

In other words, you politely let the interviewer know that whatever concern they might have is not a valid one.

One thing to keep in mind when handling these sorts of questions:

Not all interviewers who ask not-so legal interview questions are doing it for insincere reasons.

Interviewers are human, too!

No, it is not right to ask you about your country of origin (for example) but they might be genuinely interested to learn more about you. If you meet someone on the street and are casually talking, it probably wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary to ask each other such questions and sometimes it is hard for an interviewer to remember that some questions are simply not ones they should include in an interview setting.

If they are simply trying to make conversation with you, it can be difficult to consistently stick to asking legal interview questions and they might not intentionally mean to do something wrong so be careful how you react to such questions. Use common sense when responding.

Just ensure that you are aware what possible questions you would not feel comfortable answering and be certain that you know how you’ll handle each question should one arise.

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