How to Tactfully Answer Illegal or Improper Interview Questions
It’s tough enough to prepare for difficult job-related questions. Dealing with those that are inappropriate is even tougher. When faced with an illegal question during an interview, you have several choices: 1) You can refuse to answer, telling the employer you think it is improper. However, this option may disqualify you from further consideration. 2) You can answer the question as stated, forgoing your privacy and possibly making you feel uncomfortable. 3) You can answer the inappropriate interview question by addressing the legitimate concern behind the question that can often be inferred (why it was asked), rather than becoming hostile or defensive.
For example, if you are asked “What is your native language?” the response could be “I can fluently speak, read, and write English and Japanese.”
Let’s take a look at some examples of legal vs. illegal interview questions:
These guidelines will help you distinguish between lawful, acceptable interview questions and those that are unlawful. They are not complete, and only provide significant highlights. Any question that is not specifically job-related may be construed as unlawful.