4 Illegal Interview Questions & How to Handle Them…Professionally

You’re all dressed up, you’ve made it to the interview round and now there’s just one more hurdle: the questions. While some are perfectly legit, others could get you into trouble. Here are four illegal interview questions and how to respond if they come up. (Hint: It’s all about staying professional.)

Looking for a job is hard enough as it is, without running into potential roadblocks along the way – which is why knowing what illegal interview questions to watch out for is key. With that in mind, here are four of the most common ones to watch out for – along with tips on how to handle them like a pro.

So, what exactly are illegal interview questions? They are any questions that related to protected characteristics, such as race, religion, national origin, gender, age, or disability. Asking these types of questions is not only unethical – it’s also against the law.

ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTION #1 – HOW OLD ARE YOU?

ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTION #2 – WHAT IS YOUR SALARY HISTORY?

ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTION #3 – DO YOU OWN A CAR?

ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTION #4 – HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ARRESTED BEFORE?

Illegal interview questions are, unfortunately, more common than you might think. In fact, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that nearly 60% of employers have asked at least one illegal question during a job interview. The Fair Labor Standards Act Laws (FLSA) prohibit all types of discrimination based on gender, race and other specified protected classes. To obtain more details, click here.

Fortunately, there are ways to handle illegal interview questions professionally. If you’re ever put in this situation, here’s what you should do:

1. Thank the interviewer for their time and say that you’re not comfortable answering the question because they may be illegal based on FLSA practices.
2. Always start of with the question, “how is this question relevant to the job?“.
3. Respond with a general answer that doesn’t provide any specific information about your protected characteristic. For example, if you’re asked about your religion, you could say that you respect all religions and believe that everyone has the right to practice their own faith.
4. Redirect the conversation back to your qualifications for the job.
5. If the interviewer persists, politely end the interview and contact an attorney or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for consultation.

Although you can never be too prepared for an interview, having a general understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate to ask will help ease your mind. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being asked an illegal questions, don’t panic. Stay calm and collected and remember that it is more important to maintain professionalism than to jeopardize your career. Finally, if you need additional help or have any questions about how to handle a difficult interview situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here. I would be happy to offer my assistance!

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Interview Question: What are your weaknesses?

Sometimes, interviewers literally pull questions off the internet to ask right before your interview begins, but do not make the mistake of not answering their questions strategically…it can cost you the job or career opportunity.

Some interviewers like to ask this question “What are your weaknesses?” to see how you respond non-verbally and along with what you have to say. This question can throw you for a loop if you are not aware of the objective. The objective of this question is for you, as the interviewee to communicate how you overcome weakness or challenges in your professional career by telling a story about yourself. In the video, I provide a couple of examples of how you would respond positively and professionally to this question.

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