Job Interview Articles

Avoid Answering Illegal Job Interview Questions

It's good to be aware of the kinds of questions job interviewers are likely to ask, but you must also be aware of illegal job interview questions, so you know which ones to avoid answering.

These include any queries that refer to:

  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age

Why are such topics off-limits? Because if answered they could screen out candidates on the basis of personal data. Some interviewers, however, are not aware that some of their questions may be illegal.

It's easy to get caught up in a chitchat conversation during the 'getting to know you' period where people exchange information about whether or not they are married and have a family. Also, if you speak with a foreign accent or have an unusual last name that may lead to a question or two that is intended to be friendly.

What To Do

If you are asked questions pertaining to any of the subject listed above, you may feel stuck. If you don't answer it could be embarrassing and awkward. But if you do, you might worry that something you say will be held against you. After all, you don’t want to alienate the person, nor do you want to spoil your chance of winning the job.

Therefore, when you face illegal job interview questions, answer as you wish, but take mental notes while doing so and then transfer them to paper as soon as the interview is over. Then run them by a friend to get another opinion. If you do not get the job and you suspect it was because of discrimination on one of these levels, you may have recourse through the legal system. Of course you would have to back up your claim with evidence, which may not be easy to come by.

Certainly you don't want to look for trouble. You will need to weigh the situation carefully. Perhaps the best advice regarding illegal job interview questions is to consult with someone in the know ahead of time for help regarding how to answer if such questions are presented.