What To Do When Your Interviewer Asks Inappropriate Questions

It seems there comes a point in every job seeker’s quest where they come across an interviewer who asks inappropriate questions. These questions not only feel uncomfortable to answer, they’re also illegal to ask. So what do you do you want the job but you don’t want answer the questions?

Keep In Mind The Reason Behind The Question

In many cases, interviewers are ignorant or unaware that they’re asking questions that are inappropriate and illegal. They’re asking simply because they’re trying to make small talk. They may be naïve about employment laws and it’s possible that they’re simply trying to get to know a little bit more about you. But in other cases, an interviewer knows exactly what they’re doing. Understanding the motivation behind the questions will help you decide how to answer or how to respond.

What Are Inappropriate Questions?

Inappropriate, and illegal, questions are questions that ask anything about your:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Ancestry
  • Where you were born
  • Whether you’re married or not
  • If you have children
  • Whether or not you have disabilities

Some examples of potential questions are:

  • How old are you?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • What church do you go to?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

There’s no reason an employer needs to know the answer those questions. The question is, how do you handle it when these questions are asked?

Deciding How to React and Respond

There are a few potential approaches when you’re faced with this scenario. The first option is to answer the question being asked. However, when you’re answering these types of questions, don’t elaborate. It’s important to be brief with your answer and not to give them a chance to dive in and ask more irrelevant and illegal questions.

Another option is to redirect the question. Try to determine why the employer is asking the question and then answer the question they meant to ask. For example, if an employer asks if you have children you can say that you don’t understand why they’re asking the question and how your family status relates to the job. In most cases that’ll stop any potential employer from continuing to ask these types of questions. However if an employer persists, you can file a charge of discrimination claim with the EEOC equal opportunity employment commission.

It’s unfortunate that some employers are not familiar with the laws, and others feel it’s okay to put interviewees in this situation. However, it does happen and if you’re seeking a new job, it can happen to you. Plan how you’re going to respond in advance and you won’t be caught off guard.


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