Illegal Job Interview Questions

Federal and state legislation prohibits employers from asking certain questions during the interview based on race, religion, creed, sex and age.  Not all employers are familiar with these laws, particularly small employers.   What should you do if you are asked one of these illegal questions?  Experts say if you want the job, you should ignore their illegality and answer the questions.  Others recommend that you very tactfully point out that the question is illegal.  Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that if you offend the interviewer, you will not get the job offer. 

Answers to illegal job interview questions.

Questions employers are not supposed to ask job applicants:

(01) What was your maiden name?
(02) When were you born?
(03) When did you graduate from high school?
(04) What is your race?
(05) Do you have physical or mental disabilities?
(06) Do you have a drug or alcohol problem?
(07) Are you taking any prescription drugs?
(08) Would working on weekends conflict with your religion?
(09) What country are you a citizen of?
(10) Have you ever been arrested?
(11) What language did you speak in your home when you were growing up?

Employers can usually obtain the information sought in the questions above by rephrasing the question. Compare the illegal questions above with the legal ones below: 

(01) What is your name?
(02) Are you over 18?
(03) Did you graduate from high school?
(04) No questions about race are allowed.
(05 through 07) Can you perform [specific tasks pertinent to the job description]?
(08) Would you be able to meet the job's requirement to frequently work weekends?
(09) Do you have the legal right to work in the United States?
(10) Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
(11) This job requires that you speak Spanish.  Do you?

What should you do if asked an illegal question?  If you want the job it wouldn't be wise to point out to the interviewer that he has asked a bad question.  Instead, just answer it unless it offends you so much that you feel the need to point out the insult.  You can simply respond, "I'm sorry, but I don't feel that question is relevant to the position for which I'm interviewing." 

You might win more job offers by volunteering information that an interviewer can't ask you about. For example, if you're a young female of child-bearing age, you might say: "I decided a long time ago that I do not want to have children, so I have no family obligations now or in the future that could prevent me from traveling extensively if offered this position" OR "My children are away at college now, so I can work late and on weekends if necessary."
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