Illegal Interview Questions and How to Answer ThemNov 1st, 2009 | By Bill | Category: Employment News, Interviewing
In the first episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant interviews Mary Richards for a job. It is played for comedy but it is not an interview that a person would look forward to. One of the questions he asks is about what religion she is. When she replies that it is illegal to ask that question, he answers: “Wanna call a cop?” In a real life situation it is possible that you might happen by this situation. In such a case you really only have three options.
You are always free to answer the question. There may not be an ulterior motive behind the query. Still, you might want to consider the fact that the wrong answer to this question may be held against you.
You can refuse to answer the question. If you do so, be polite and explain that you fail to see what that question has to do with the position for which you are being interviewed. There is always a change that the person interviewing you will see this as confrontational.
This may be the best option. Examine the question and try to see the reason behind it. You may be asked your marital status and that would be an illegal question. Now it is possible that interviewer may be putting the moves on you or it could be equally possible they are just curious if you could work evenings or if you would be willing to relocate. In this case you could answer the question as such: “I am available to work extended hours and weekends and if the job requires it I would be willing to travel or relocate.” If the interviewer still asks if you are married, then you can ask them how that question is relevant to job.
Not all interviewers are aware of what an illegal question is and a little diplomacy can go a long way in smoothing over an awkward situation. The following is a sampling of illegal questions.
How old are you? You cannot be asked this question but you can be asked if you are between 18 and 65.
You cannot be asked if you are married or if you have children or if you plan on having children.
They cannot ask about disabilities or your personal health. They can ask if you are capable of lifting a certain amount of weight if it is related to the job.
You cannot be asked anything about you ethnicity but they can ask if you are legally able to work in that country.
They cannot ask questions about your sexual preferences.
You cannot be asked if you have ever been arrested although they can ask if you have ever been convicted of a specific crime. They must name the crime.
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