Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interview Tip: Dealing with Illegal Interview Questions

Interviewers are often inexperienced and will ask illegal questions out of ignorance, not due to an underhanded motive.  Questions that seek information about your age, national origin, religion, marital status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities are TYPICALLY illegal and can be giant red flags within an interview situation.  Most of the time illegal questions are more about having a conversation versus trying to discriminate against you, and your task unfortunately, is to determine whether they are being discriminatory or are merely uninformed.  So, if you decide the person interviewing you “doesn't know any better” what should you do?  1)  Answer the question just like any other interview question.  2)  Tell them it is illegal for them to ask such a question.  While certainly we don’t want to be put in this situation, it may be best if you really feel they are just ignorant of what is permissible, to answer the question.  The moment you point out the inquiry is illegal you will scare the interviewer(s) and most likely lose the job.

If you are unsure as to their reasoning for the question, ask them “why do you ask?”  This could bring up a red flag on their end, but their answer should offer you more insight as whether the question could be discriminatory in nature.  Here are a few things that can help you pinpoint the potential for bias in interview questions:

--Multiple illegal questions are asked.
--They aggressively ask illegal questions.
--Explanation they offer about “why” makes you uncomfortable.
--They act insulted that you inquired as to why the question was asked.

Since most of these queries are innocent enough, answering them like any other question will pay dividends in the end, especially when you may not mind providing the information anyway.  If you suspect you are the victim of discrimination in an employment interview, contact an attorney that specializes in employment law or your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office.  As always, to your job search success! 

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