Handling Illegal Interview Questions

Most interviewers who ask illegal interview questions do so unknowingly. Therefore, any attempt by you to assert your right not to answer the question will make you look defensive and may put an end to any future consideration for employment.

Before responding, assess the situation. Is the interviewer making small talk and is not looking to use the information against you? After you have assessed the situation, you have the following response options:

After you have assessed the situation, you have the following response options:

    • Answer truthfully if you feel your response will not ruin your chances of getting the job.

    • Inform the interviewer in a manner that has the interviewer assessing the question, such as: “I don’t think that question is relevant for the position, do you?”

    • Keep your answer on the requirements of the job and your ability to perform it, such as: “Is there an age requirement for the job?” or “Is that information relevant for the job?”

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The following are examples of casually asked illegal questions and suggested responses: 11

Q: Does your family mind the travel required for this position?

A: I am accustomed to significant business travel. In fact, I find being on the road invigorating, and my track record has been very consistent under these conditions.

Q: Are you religious? Will your religion prevent you from working extra hours or on weekends when we have a big project?

A: I suppose everyone is religious in their own way. I do not foresee any circumstances that would interfere with the quality or commitment of my performance.

Q: You have a very unusual last name. What is its origin?

A: It really is a mouthful, isn’t it? I’ve always used my first name and last initial in my business email address, as it is easier.

Q: Are you planning a family in the near future?

A: Currently, I am focused on my career, and although having a family is always a possibility, it is not a priority at the moment.

Q: How many more years do you see yourself in the workforce (before retiring)?

A: In today’s world people don’t retire like they used to; some can’t. My career and my need to earn an income are priorities that I do not foresee changing in the near future.


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