Types Of Illegal Job Interview Questions And How To Handle Them
How To Identify And Deflect Or Confront Illegal Questions.
As a job interview coach part
of what I do is to help my clients manage illegal job interview
questions they may encounter. Every job interview you go on has
the potential for the interviewer asking questions that are too
personal, too intrusive or downright illegal, so you need to know
what these questions are, have strategies in place for dealing with
them, and practice your responses so you feel comfortable in advance.
This article identifies nine illegal interview question areas and
six potential strategies for handling them.
Nine Types Of Illegal Job Interview Questions
And How To Handle Them
How To Identify And Deflect Or Confront Illegal
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
As a job interview coach part of what I do is
help my clients manage illegal job interview questions they may
encounter. Every job interview you go on has the potential for the
interviewer asking questions that are too personal, too intrusive
or downright illegal. You need to know what these illegal interview
questions are, have strategies in place for dealing with them, and
practice your responses so you feel comfortable in advance.
Sometimes interviewers ask borderline questions out of lack of knowledge
of the law, or from being too nosy, or from being poorly trained
as an interviewer. Your job as a smart interviewee is to identify
these errors they make, and gracefully and artfully extricate yourself
Employers are not allowed to ask job interview questions about any
of the following nine illegal, discriminatory topics.
- National origin
- Marital/family status
Strategies for Handling Illegal Job Interview Questions
Here are six potential job interview strategies
for handling illegal questions.
- Decide in advance how personal you will get in answering
certain questions. For example, if they ask about personal
health issues, you can simply answer, "My health is fine and
I have a nutrition and fitness program I follow. I am fully
capable of performing this job with no health reservations."
- Answer the question in a direct, confident manner and
give no hint that you know this is an illegal interview question.
How you answer stressful questions is often far more important
than what you say.
- You need to know the illegal interview questions they
might ask, and how to couch your answers so you appear in a
diplomatic, reasonable, non-defensive light. Outright refusal
to answer may not be your best approach. You do have the choice
at any time not to answer an illegal question. Rather than refuse
to answer outright, play some verbal judo and see if you can
wriggle around it.
- Remain calm and in control, no matter how prying, personal
or illegal the questions may be. It does you no good to
react emotionally. You need your wits about you to craft a solid
response, and you can't afford your emotions getting in the
- Quickly remind yourself that even though the actual question
may be rude or illegal, perhaps the interviewer is simply untrained,
and meant no harm. I would take that stance first, giving
them the benefit of the doubt, so you don't become angry or
- Ask yourself if the illegal interview question was designed
as a stress test to see how you can think on your feet.
Are they trying to see if you are easily thrown off? Do they
want to see if you can react quickly? Take a humorous approach
to answering the question as a means of deflecting it. The interviewer
may respect you for being able to think so well on your feet.
Now you know how to identify an illegal job interview
question, and you have a toolkit of responses and countermeasures
you can take in the face of them. I wish you good luck in using
all your smarts and communication skills in countering them so you
get the job. As your job interview coach I want you to succeed in
This article is an excerpt from the Interview Success
Guide, an indispensable tool you need to make your interview campaign
a big success. This is a 216-page master blueprint that helps you understand
and navigate the interview process so you can mount a successful interview campaign.
This book has deep, insightful and immediately applicable interview wisdom that
demystifies the world of interviewing. It also has over 400 questions, listed
by category, for a variety of careers and jobs, which you could be asked in
an interview. There are also over 1200 interview task reminders, questions and
guidelines in checklist form so you leave nothing to chance in your job hunt.
This guide gives you a step-by-step approach to mastering the interview process.
Everything you need to do, from the moment you begin your job hunt to when you
accept the position, is covered. We have thought of everything you could possibly
need to know to conduct a comprehensive, smart job hunt campaign. Learn more
about The Interview Success
Guide and purchase
it in pdf format, downloadable directly from this website. The Interview
Success Guide eBook is also available in Amazon
Kindle format and Barnes
& Noble Nook format.
To learn more about how interview coaching can help you improve your abilities
in media situations, oral test and exam situations, and job interviews visit
Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach, at:
Copyright © 2011-
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Free Re-Publishing Rights For This Article
You have our advance permission to republish this article,
as long as you do not sell it. The author's name, web address (MentalGameCoach.com)
and copyright notice (Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA) must appear
in all reprinted articles. If the article appears on a website or
in an e-zine, the article must include a link to a page in the MentalGameCoach
website. We would also appreciate your including the author's bio
and full contact information in your article, although this is not
a requirement. For additional information, see our full article
re-publishing permission guidelines.