While I spend most of my time writing about what questions you will be asked in an interview and how to answer them, it’s worth it to also talk about the questions you should NEVER be asked in an interview.
There are some topics that should always be completely off limits in an interview. Why? Because they are personal, not relevant to how you’d perform on the job, and in many cases, aren’t legal!
To name a few examples…
- What religion you practice
- If you are married
- If you have kids/are thinking of having kids in the future
- How old you are
- What social/religious groups you are a part of
While getting to know you and understand your hobbies and interests outside of work is a way to build a relationship, the questions above are widely known to be illegal.
But what if you find yourself on an interview and being asked an illegal interview question (or just one that is unprofessional/inappropriate)? How should you react? Should you answer?
First, try to consider your interviewers objectives. Are they just trying to make conversation and learn a little more about you (hobbies, favorite magazines, sports)? Or are they asking something way too personal, that you feel they may count against you?
If it’s the latter situation, take a pause and ask yourself if you really want to to work for a company that is asking these questions when they have nothing to do with the job? A company’s professionalism (or lack of) in the interview process is a pretty good indication of the work environment.
If you are still dying for the job you may choose to simply answer – dodging any question in an interview or calling the interviewer out for bad behavior may be the right thing to do, but probably won’t put you at the top of the list.
However, my opinion is that you absolutely don’t have to answer any question that feels too personal or offends you in any way. Something along the lines of “I’d prefer not to answer that question because it seems too personal” or “I’d rather chat more about my skills and work experience versus…” is the best way I can think of to avoid these questions. Will the interviewer be put off? Maybe. But is that the type of person you want to work for? Probably not.
Have you ever been asked an inappropriate or illegal interview question? Chime in with a comment.