Illegal Interview Questions

By law employers are not allowed to ask questions regarding your race/national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, affiliations, disabilities, criminal record, sex, or religion.

If you are asked an illegal question you are free to answer or not. But either way is a risk. The answer you choose may not be the one the employer is looking for, the question itself may be a test, and refusing outright could be interpreted as uncooperative. When faced with these kinds questions it is best to try to interpret what “illegal” information the employer is after and find an answer that is relevant to the job. For example:

If you are asked the question “Who takes care of your children when you’re at work?” clearly the employer wants to know whether you have children and whether that is going to mean time lost from work to look after them. A diplomatic response might be, “I am able to meet the scheduled hours required for this job.”

If the question is age related, state that your age is an asset, no matter how old you are. Youth means that you have not had time to develop bad work habits, are used to learning, have fresh ideas and an up-to-date education. Mature applicants are more stable, with well-developed work habits, a commitment to their careers and a realistic view of the world of work.

If the question relates to nationality/citizenship, state that you are legally able to work in this country.

If you can’t see why the employer is asking the question, ask how the question relates to your abilities with respect to the job. Most interviewers will rephrase their question.