"HE WHO LOVES PRACTICE WITHOUT THEORY IS LIKE THE SAILOR WHO BOARDS SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER AND COMPASS AND NEVER KNOWS WHERE HE MAY CAST".
Leonardo Da Vinci
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Job Interview Questions You Should NOT Answer (Or Ask)
There are a number of questions that are clearly off-limits in a job interview. It always astonishes me when I learn that people have been asked inappropriate or even illegal questions and I though it might be useful to re-iterate some of the questions you shouldn’t answer in your job interview.
The purpose of the job interview is to establish whether you are right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for you. Any questions you might get shouldn’t go beyond the professional assessment of your skills, enthusiasm and fit.
However, it can be very easy for interviewers to cross the line and ask questions that are inappropriate, and in many cases even illegal. I believe that asking those questions is mostly not done on purpose, but because of a lack of training and awareness.
Here are some commonly asked interview questions that are inappropriate and in fact illegal in many parts of the world:
What is your age?
What is your citizen status?
Have you got children?
What is your weight?
What is your financial status or credit rating?
Have you got any depths?
What is your family status?
Do you believe in God?
Where do you go to church?
Do you drink alcohol?
What do you do at the weekends?
What religious holidays do you observe?
What is your race?
Have you ever been arrested?
The tricky thing is how to handle these questions. Always remember that you don’t have to answer any questions in a job interview that are not related to your job and you don’t have to answer question about race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, family status, type of military discharge or your financial position. You can even terminate the interview and leave.
However, refusing to answer questions can create a very awkward atmosphere. If you are happy to reveal the answers, you can simply answer the questions, but remember, it is your right not to.
Sometimes, when you feel the interviewer is starting to overstep the mark, you might want to answer with with a caveat like:
Yes, I have three children. But personal circumstances have little or nothing to do with my ability to perform this job and I believe it is actually illegal to discuss such non-work-related issues in an interview. Shall we get back to discussing the things that actually matter to this job…
This usually does the trick and will stop any further questions of that kind.
If the questions make you uncomfortable and you prefer not to answer the them, then you might just say:
Why would that be relevant to assess my suitability for this job? I believe this type of questions is not really relevant and actually illegal.
It is always wise to remember that in most circumstances there is no sinister reason behind those questions and the interviewer just wants to innocently assess whether you are right for the job. Therefore, the overall best way to deal with inappropriate or illegal interview questions is to look beyond the question and ask yourself: what is the motive for asking the question?
This often allows you to provide an answer that will satisfy the interviewer but avoid the details you might not want to share. For example, if your interviewer asks whether you are a U.S. citizen, you can simply answer: If you are asking whether I am legally allowed to work in this country, then the answer is yes.
Hope this is useful? As always, I’d love to hear your views on this issue. Have you ever been in a situation where an interviewer overstepped the mark or asked inappropriate or illegal questions? Any other tips of how to handle those questions? Please share your views…