Whether you are dealing with an inexperienced recruiter, or someone who simply wishes to ignore federal law, you may find yourself asked a question that is inappropriate or illegal during a job interview. With the stress that can accompany a job interview, being asked an inappropriate or illegal question is certainly not the best way to woo a new employee!
In these situations, you can take control.
There is no way around it – these situations can be uncomfortable, and you may decide at the point of a question being asked that you no longer desire a position with the company. You can; however, continue with the interview and make a final determination of the company and your likelihood of choosing them for employment.
So, what can you do to get past inappropriate or illegal questions?
- Understand that it may have been a mistake. If an interviewer is trying to make chit chat or put you at ease, he or she may ask you questions about your home life or hobbies – which would lead to some protected information. If a discussion about your personal life – and protected information – comes up, you may not want to immediately assume that the interviewer is trying anything sinister.
- Ask, “Why?” Without being combative, smile and politely ask an interview why they are asking for protected information. A smile and simple, “Why?” puts the onus on the interviewer to explain the question and its intent.
- Turn the tables. Rather than pause awkwardly, you can use the opportunity to steer the interview back to information that is relevant to the job. Responding with, “Well that’s an interesting question, but I’m very interested in discussing