I’m regularly astounded by the stories I hear from friends, colleagues, and clients regarding job interviews. Many of the most frequently asked interview questions are off-limits. As a job-seeker it is essential that you be prepared to (politely) bypass such improper questions.
Much to my horror, I’ve seen all of these questions asked in interview situation – in one form or another – and often by C-level staff who should know better.
I’ve outlined the most common areas below, but as always, if you encounter a questionable situation your best bet is to contact an attorney and ask for his or her advice.
- How old are you? (Or other questions related to your age.)
You are not required to respond to any questions related to your age other than confirmation that you are over 18 years old. There’s also no need to provide a photo ID during the interview session. In this situation, I recommend you simply say that you’re (justifiably) concerned about the security of your personal information and politely decline to hand over the document until it is decided whether you will be joining the team or not.
- What’s your nationality? (Or other questions related to your ethnic heritage.)
Same goes with this question, you need not answer questions that relate to your nationality, citizenship status or your length of residence in the US or any other country. Just politely confirm that you are legally permitted to work in the US.
- Are you married? Do you have any children? (Or other questions related to familial status.)
Interviewers are are not permitted to ask you about your marital status, children, or about any future plans to start a family or have more children. My recommendation is simply to answer yes or no to questions about the existence of a family, and explain that your family life is private and you prefer not to share such intimate details with someone you’ve just met.
- Do you have any spiritual or religious beliefs?
These questions are completely out of bounds in a job interview. Your interviewer should know better. But if the issue comes up, you should not volunteer any information and politely state that your spirituality is a very private affair and you are uncomfortable sharing such intimate details with a stranger.
The above are the most common issues that pop up during job interviews. Since this is primarily an informational post, I’m glossing over a whole host of other issues in the interest of brevity. You should, however, be aware of other potential areas of HR exposure related to the interview process.
- Credit Rating
- Political Party Affiliation
- (Specific) Physical Disabilities
- Sexual Orientation, Height, or Weight
- Arrest, Court, or Arrest Records (Conviction records are permissible if they relate to the job function/duties)
Again, this is only intended to be an overview. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.