How to answer inappropriate interview questions

The interview can be scary enough as it is – but what can especially ruffle a job seeker’s feathers is when an employer takes an inappropriate line of questioning. Make no mistake, there are some questions an employer shouldn’t ask under any circumstance – primarily because they’re irrelevant, steeped in bias, and above all, illegal. If you find yourself being asked any of the following in interview, remember, you don’t and shouldn’t have to answer!

  • How old are you?
  • What is your religion?
  • Are you going to get pregnant soon?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Would you like to go out with me?

Any questions that err towards your age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or race, are an absolute no-go area. None of the above have any bearing on your ability to do the job, and are in no way relevant to the interview.

What to do with an inappropriate question

If you do find yourself on the other end of these types of questions, we can understand your initial reaction to take offence, however, the interviewer might not know s/he shouldn’t ask them. You can gently and tactfully point out to them that the question is actually illegal, and they’ll probably realise the error of their ways and apologise for their embarrassing gaffe.

In short, we advise that you keep calm and stand your ground. If you’re not comfortable answering, tell them point-blanc that you don’t think it’s pertinent to the job and/or it’s litigious and you’re not obligated to answer (nor are you comfortable doing so). Whatever your response may be, the best course of action is to deflect the question and to move on (while being polite, if at all possible!)

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