Illegal Questions in Job Interview and how to Respond to Illegal Questions in Job Interview
Illegal Questions in Interview
In this article you learn the questions that are illegal and that should not be a part of the job interview. You also learn the appropriate way to handle such questions if they are asked.
Employers are bound by a set of legal guidelines to avoid certain questions during a selection interview. The following guidelines give an overview of the questions that interviewers legally can or cannot ask.
Race or Color
Can't Ask: No questions may be asked about your race or color.
Religion or Creed
Can't Ask: Questions may not be asked about your religious denomination, affiliations, church, synagogue, parish, pastor, rabbi, or religious holidays observed.
Can Ask: If you will be consistently required to work on a day that is a Sabbath for a religion, the interviewer may ask if the work schedule will cause conflict with religious values.
Can't Ask: You may not be asked about your ancestry, national origin, descent, parentage, nationality, or your spouse's lineage.
Can't Ask: An interviewer may not ask questions about marital status, children, children's ages, or where your spouse is employed.
Can't Ask: No questions may be asked regarding your gender, nor about your sexual orientation.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask you if you are between the ages of eighteen and seventy. If you say that you are not, the interviewer may ask when you were born or what your exact age is.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask if you have any impairments, physical or mental, that could interfere with the ability to perform the job. You may be asked if there are any positions for which you should not be considered because of a physical or mental handicap.
Can't Ask: The interviewer may not, however, ask if you are handicapped, if you have been treated for any diseases, or if a member of your family has had any disease.
Can Ask: You may be asked if you have ever worked for the organization under a different name or if you use a nickname or an assumed name.
Can't Ask: An interviewer may not ask your maiden name. You cannot be asked if your name has ever been changed by court action or if you have ever worked under another name.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask your place of residence anc) how long you have been a resident of the city or state.
Can't Ask: The interviewer may not ask if you own or rent your residence.
Can't Ask: Interviewers may not ask you where you, your parents, spouse, children, or other close relatives were born.
Can Ask: You may be asked if you are a citizen of the United States. If not, you may be asked about your intention to become a citizen and if you can legally remain in the U.S. You may be asked if you were ever arrested as a non-citizen.
Can't Ask: Interviewers may not ask your specific country of citizenship or whether you or your spouse or parents are native born or naturalized.
Can Ask: You may be asked what languages you are able to speak, read, or write.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask about your education and training, including types of courses studied, courses completed, and grades achieved.
Can Ask: Interviewers may ask about all aspects of your job-related work experience.
Can Ask: You may be asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime and if so, when, where, and disposition of the offense.
Can't Ask: The interviewer may not ask if you have ever been arrested.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask the names of any relatives who are already employed by the organization.
Can't Ask: The interviewer may not ask about any relatives not employed by the organization.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask if you have been a member of the armed forces and about any training or experience you have had in the armed forces that relates to the position for which you are applying. You may be asked whether you were discharged and when.
Can't Ask: You may not be asked what type of discharge you received from the armed forces.
Can Ask: You may be asked if you belong to any club or organization.
Can't Ask: You may not be asked to list or identify all the clubs or organizations to which you belong.
Can Ask: The interviewer may ask you to supply names of references and to specify how you came to apply for the position.
How to Respond to Illegal Questions
It is really quite unlikely that you will run into a blatantly illegal question. Many employers are well aware of the implications of asking illegal questions in the interview and carefully steer clear of them.
If you do find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to answer an illegal question, use the following guidelines:
1. Be brief
2. Be positive
While you may be tempted to argue the value of the question, it is better to control your anger and avoid getting defensive. This will only be seen as confrontational and will not improve your chances of getting hired. Answer the question quickly, and give it a positive spin. For example:
"How many children do you have?"
Their fears: Your children will distract you from your work.
Your answer: "I have two, and I'm quite proud of them. They are proud of me, too, and of my accomplishments in my career. They understand how important my work is to me, and they do not interfere with my career life."
"How old are you?"
Their fears: You are too young to have a thorough understanding of the job; or, you are tired and ready to retire after a couple years of earning a paycheck.
Your answer: Be vague. Cleverly avoid an exact age by using a rounded number, such as "I'm in my mid 40s." Or, you might try, "Old enough to have built an extensive base of industry knowledge, and I am looking forward to continuing to grow in the field for many more years."
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