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Tips for Handling Inappropriate or Illegal Job Interview Questions

David Potts -- An interview is tough enough without inappropriate questions. Be on guard for one and know in advance how you will handle it so that it doesn't knock you off your game.

Being prepared for what questions may come up in a job interview is very important. They could be about you, the job, and your skills. However, there are times when there are questions that arise in a job interview that may be deemed as inappropriate or illegal. It is important that you stand up for yourself should you feel any questions are heading in that direction.

Don't be shy

Some interview candidates will let anything go because they are shy or they really need the job. Yet if the potential employer is going to cross lines when they conduct an interview, they will do it while you are on the job as well. Stand up for yourself and calmly ask why such information is necessary. This tells the interviewer that you are aware something may be amiss about what is being asked.

Decline to answer

You have the right to decline any questions in an interview that you aren't comfortable with because you feel they may be inappropriate or illegal. Remain calm and professional about stating that you aren't going to answer a certain question.

Answer if you are fine with it

Some questions, you may feel, may not cross the line, even though they are illegal. For example, you may be asked if you are married. This isn't a question that would affect your ability to do a given job which is why it is deemed as illegal or inappropriate. Yet the interviewer may simply be asking to help break the ice. If you are fine answering it, then do so.

Write a letter to the head of the business

Let your feelings about the inappropriate or illegal job interview questions be known to the head of the business. Writing a letter that states the facts, date, time, questions, and other details is important to include. Make sure the letter isn't written in a manner that reflects poorly on you as an individual. You want to make your point known but not let your emotions control the wording or flow of that letter.

Report to the legal entities

The laws are in place to protect candidates from illegal or inappropriate job interview questions. If you feel that has occurred, you need to report to the legal entities. You can go to your local work force center and they can get you the contact information you need at a state level. From there, an investigation can be done and actions against that company to prevent them from following such practices in the future.

Today, the trend is to place you in a situation and ask what you would do or how you would handle it. Behavioral and competency based interview questions are similar.

This type of interview is tough enough without inappropriate questions. Be on guard for one and know in advance how you will handle it. Don't let it knock you off your game.

Dave Potts is a New Yorker who has spent nearly thirty years as a contract employee. Having time between jobs is normal to him. So is looking for and interviewing for a job. This article is designed to give back something to those who may have spent many years in (perceived) security -- and, therefore never got any practice with cover letters or interviews. Additional, advanced discussion on a variety of related topics can be found at at

© 2015 David Potts

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.