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Illegal Interview Questions; What they are and how to Handle them

When you participate in a job interview you have to remember that there are many rules that you must respect in order to make a good impression and to get the job. So, present a summary of your resume and prepare answers to some questions your employer might ask you. However, what can you do if you receive an illegal question that you have not even expected? Every candidate wants to impress the employer, but you have to make sure that the interviewer does not abuse you of your rights. In this article we explain what illegal interview questions are and how you can handle them.


The following questions can never be addressed to a candidate because they are evident proof of discrimination from the employer's part. One should note that an employer cannot ask a candidate about their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • National origin
  • Marital/ family status

If you are asked a question regarding one of these variables you have to know that it is an illegal interview question and that it breaches your rights as an applicant. The next question that arises after this is how to handle these questions? You have many options, but it is up to you to decide what you choose, depending on how comfortable you are with the question. First, you can choose to answer the question if you want; provided you believe that the question is not discriminating or humiliating. The second option is to change the subject, to avoid answering if you are not comfortable. You can also answer for the legal intent of the question or you can refuse to answer and state that the question is illegal.

When a job applicant is asked an illegal question or anything related to the above pointers one has to think straight to find on what grounds the question has been asked. Asking illegal questions puts the company in shadow. You have to think if you really want to work in a company where the hiring managers are asking questions of probable discrimination. If the company thinks that it is ok to research some aspects of your identity, you have to know on what grounds they make some of their decisions. As a result, if you don't want to be the subject of their internal discrimination everyday you should probably not answer the question on the grounds of being illegal. So, think closely if you decide to call their action illegal or not.

Another thing that you have to know is that; there are some hiring managers who ask illegal questions that are indiscrete, but probably aren't aware that they have done this. They probably don't know the parameters of the law, and they did not mean to discriminate against the applicant. So, when asked an illegal question you can answer the employer if he knows it is an illegal question. Nevertheless it is the duty of the interviewer to know if the questions thrown on the job seekers are decent and fall into the legal category.

If you appear for an interview and are asked an illegal question, it is up to you to decide whether you can charge a file for discrimination against the company. So, if you think you were discriminated against for any of the variables mentioned above, you can file charges with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Interviews are tough for every applicant especially when candidates are faced with the interviewer's questions. But you have to know that there are legal and illegal questions that the employer can ask. So, if you are asked a question during the interview and you consider it to be discriminating, you can either response or you can avoid answering if you don't feel comfortable.

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