Interview questions you never have to answer (and tips on how to do it)
During job interviews, employers strive to learn as much as possible about the candidates. Sometimes, the efforts get too harsh, and the questions become too pushy. Sometimes the interviewer crosses the line of formal communication, and you risk facing even illegal interview questions.
By ERIKA RYKUN
According to the EEOC, questions around topics beyond determining job qualifications and skills are irrelevant and out-of-bounds. This means, slipping to some topics using direct or explicit questions is strictly off-limits.
Here are the 7 most common interview questions you should never have to answer and some tips on responding if they are unavoidable.
How old are you?
The potential employer or interviewers are more than welcome to dig deep into your education, qualification, or experience. Still, they should not ask you about your exact age via direct or indirect questions.
Innocent as it seems, this question is somewhat restricted by the law. Moreover, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers over the age of 40, and thus, no one can get rejected for being too old.
You have the right not to answer this question at all or to avoid answering by turning the situation into a joke. Furthermore, you can refuse to provide any information that reflects your exact age.
Are you married?
Inquiring about your marital status or personal relationships is another interview question you do not have to answer. Despite this fact, most interviewers motivate this question by the desire to learn you better while the real motive may be to learn about your time commitment.
The situation is much worst when this information is used for sexual or orientation discrimination in the future. Therefore, feeling uncomfortable in such a situation, you can always refuse to answer or bring the conversation back to job-related matters, leaving private life private.
Do you have children or are you planning to?
The Elephant in the Valley survey shows 75 percent of senior-level women in tech are asked about kids, family, or marriage at the job interview. The explanation is simple: most employers want to hire candidates ready to work around the clock and don`t wish to cover maternity leaves.
Besides, some employers also assume someone with a family needs extra time off. But personal questions about children or motherhood are definitely off the table. To politely show you know your rights and leave this topic behind, try to rephrase the question to, for instance, ‘If you are inquiring about my commitment to job…’ or ‘Perhaps you are asking if I am focused enough on my job….’
What religion do you practice?
This interview question often takes the following wording: ‘Do you go to church?’, ‘What is your religious affiliation?’ or ‘What holidays do you celebrate?’. However, these are sneaky inquiries about your personal life.
Despite the wording and intonation it is asked with, this question is off-limits unless you are applying for a position in a church or faith-related organization. Thus, the religion you practice has no bearing on whether or not you can complete the tasks required.
Make sure you can make it straightforward for the interviewer by the comment like ‘My schedule is quite flexible, and I’m sure I’ll be able to work the schedule needed for this position.’
Where are you from originally?
Even though your country of origin has nothing to do with the skills and knowledge required for the position, interviewers often ask this question at the interview. The only legal reason for this question is to learn whether the candidates have a legal right to work in the country of the interviewer.
However, in such a case, the wording of the question should be slightly different. Otherwise, you should not have to answer. The origin question often slips out as a conversation starter. If you feel it as a friendly inquiry, you can say something like ‘Florida, and what about you?’ or ‘ I`ve lived in lots of different places before I settled down here.’
What was your salary in the last job?
Some employers often ask about previous positions and salaries, and however, the question is rather uncomfortable. Moreover, in some countries and states in the US, it is illegal. Thus, you shouldn`t answer if you do not want to.
Before the interview, prepare to talk about salary expectations and salary negotiation for the current position with no references to your previous experience. Talk about the value you can bring to the company and what`s that worth.
Although you must answer many different questions at the interview to understand the interviewer, some questions should never come up. In general, you shouldn`t have to speak on the following topics: age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, nationality, religion, and disability.
Unfortunately, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation at the job interview. Whether the interviewer asks these questions out of curiosity and lack of experience or to discriminate against you, these are illegal questions according to the law. Thus you can never get punished for a refusal to answer.