Questions Employers Can't Ask During Job Interviews

Are you planning to look for a new job in 2016? Job interviews can be intimidating, especially when you know you're up against stiff competition. Interviewers also sometimes ask personal questions that can be uncomfortable to answer. There are guidelines that determine which questions a potential employer can ask interviewees. As you anticipate landing a new job this year, understand which questions an interviewer cannot ask and how you could potentially respond.

Which Questions are Off-Limits?  

Title VII is the portion of the Civil Right Act that addresses employment discrimination. While it doesn't include a specific list of off-limits questions, it does stipulate that employers cannot ask anything that could be used to discriminate against someone. Here are a few questions that are too personal for job interviews.

*What is your race, color or ethnicity?
*How old are you?
*Are you disabled?
*Are you married?
*Do you have children or plan to have children?
*Are you pregnant?
*Are you in debt?
*What is your political affiliation?
*What is your religious affiliation?
*Do you drink or smoke?

How Can You Respond if You're Asked a Personal Question?

Despite the guidelines, interviewers do want to get to know you and may inadvertently ask a personal question as you chat. Getting angry, threatening to sue or storming out of the interview are in bad taste and guarantee you won't get hired. However, you can handle the situation in two ways as you maintain your dignity and retain the relationship.
Consider this example of two ways you can respond when a hiring manager asks you if you have children.

  1. Tackle the personal question head-on. Respond by affirming that you are committed to your job, will put in long hours and can work from home if necessary. Remind the interviewer of how you handled responsibilities as a parent in your past jobs, too.
  2. Bring the conversation back to your qualifications. Despite the discomfort of the question, you're really at the interview to discuss why you're qualified for the job. Point out your sales record or leadership success as you gently steer the conversation back to why you deserve to be hired.

If a potential employer insists that you answer these questions, politely end the interview and walk away. You do not want to be caught in a situation that could hurt you in the future or work for a company that disrespects you.

Be prepared for your next job interview when you know some of the questions you cannot be asked and ways to respond. Being ready could actually help you get the job you want.

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