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Handling illegal questions

From: Acing Your Interview

Video: Handling illegal questions

Often candidates will be faced with what they think is a tricky question, but is actually illegal. Many times interviewers don't even realize that a question is illegal, and have not been properly trained in interviewing techniques. This will also lead them to ask bizarre and inappropreate questions. There are techniques to handle these situations that will allow you to overcome these types of questions. In the US illegal questions are guided by federal law and categorized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The categories of discrimination include race, religion, national origin, birthplace, sex, color, disability and marriage/family status. There are five questions for answering these questions and it will depend on the intent, because often these questions are posed as small talk. You will want to handle them appropriately.

Handling illegal questions

Often candidates will be faced with what they think is a tricky question, but is actually illegal. Many times interviewers don't even realize that a question is illegal, and have not been properly trained in interviewing techniques. This will also lead them to ask bizarre and inappropreate questions. There are techniques to handle these situations that will allow you to overcome these types of questions. In the US illegal questions are guided by federal law and categorized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The categories of discrimination include race, religion, national origin, birthplace, sex, color, disability and marriage/family status. There are five questions for answering these questions and it will depend on the intent, because often these questions are posed as small talk. You will want to handle them appropriately.

For instance, an interviewer may ask, so, you're married? Or, you have children? First, you can answer the question. If you feel that they are just making small talk, and it will not affect the outcome of the interview, you can simply answer it. Second, you can answer the intent of the question. For instance, if you were asked, are you a U.S. citizen? Which is illegal to ask, you can answer, I'm authorized to work in the US, which is a question an employer can ask you and is probably trying to obtain. Third, you can confront the question.

This works well with bizarre or offensive questions. You simply state, this is a interesting question, and ask, what are you trying to learn from the question. Fourth. You can redirect the question and avoid it. For instance, if they asked. Are you married? You can redirect it back to them. Oh, I see you're married, what a great pictue, where was it taken? Finally, you refuse to answer the question. You may lose the opportunity but if it was that offensive as to not use one of the above techniques, the question I would have for you is.

Do you really want to work there? Again, how you respond to the question really depends on how you interpret the intent of the perosn asking. This advice for what is considered illegal is for the United States audience. If you are from another country, you should check your country's laws for what would be considered illegal questions The same techniques would apply.

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Acing Your Interview

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Valerie Sutton
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