How to Answer Illegal Job Interview Questions

JULY 8, 2010 | BY MICAH

In the last post, we went over types of illegal interview questions that you may be asked at your interview, but are not technically legal. Today, we will go over how to answer these questions in such a way that you do not harm your job interview chances.

Ask Yourself if it is Important

The reason that these interview questions are illegal is because their answers can lead to hiring discrimination. However, the keyword is “can,” not “will.” In most cases the answers will probably have no effect on your interview chances at all. So if you are asked an illegal job interview question such as “are you married?” you should still answer the question and not worried about it unless you believe that your answer may lead to prejudices.

Avoiding Answers

In most cases you will want to avoid the specifics of each question. For example, if you are asked a question about any religious organizations you belong to (against the law), you can respond with “I currently do not belong X, Y, and Z professional organizations” and not mention any religious organizations at all. This is the best way to answer these questions.

Don’t Answer

Your other option is to simply not answer the question. It is a bad idea to say “You have asked me an illegal question that I refuse to answer” because in most cases illegal job interview questions are asked by accident by new employees that were not aware of the law, and not in a deliberate attempt to avoid hiring you. However, what you can say is “I prefer not to answer questions about my personal life so that I can keep the two separate at all times.” If they push you for it, apologize and ask if you can move on.

Do You Want to Work There?

If you are pushed for an answer to an illegal interview question, there are ways to avoid answering the question. However, you should also ask yourself if you want to work for an employer that is ignorant of illegal hiring practices. It is unlikely in today’s day and age that companies will knowingly ask you illegal interview questions in order to discriminate against you. Most often it is simply an honest mistake. However, it is an honest mistake that is far more common at companies that know little about the business world, and these may be companies you want to avoid.

If you are forced to answer one of these illegal interview questions, you can file a claim and take action against the employer.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Most illegal job interview questions are asked by accident, not as a reason to discriminate.
  • There are ways to avoid your answer and still keeping your job interview chances alive.

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