So what do you do when you are awkwardly confronted with what you feel may be an illegal interview question? How do you handle it professionally and tactfully in a way that will work to your benefit? The smartest option is to answer as truthfully as you can so long as the response will not incriminate you. Or simply provide information that strictly relates to the job requirements as you’ve been informed of and your ability to accomplish them.
Essentially, you need to just find a way to divert the topic to a similar theme and play stupid (without looking stupid) in regards to the fact that you aren’t really directly answering the question. There really is no way to completely anticipate the questions the interviewer is going to ask you, especially the illegal, sneaky ones, but you are best to play it by ear and if you think you can do it, use your charm and confidence to stifle their own shady behavior. Mesmerize them into forgetting their underhanded agenda. That, being the ideal, romanticized solution of course. It could work though. However, a backup plan just in case would probably be wise to think about.
While the interview conversation will obviously have to be something you just find a way to “go with”, as your gut instinct tells you to, you may want to browse over some of these examples of common ways employers try to ask illegal interviewing questions so you are at least a little more prepared when it comes to handling them.
Here are some examples of sneaky illegal interviewing tactics:
On Religion: The interviewer could be especially inquisitive about your ability or inability to work Sundays or various holidays. He or she might also directly ask if Sunday would be a problem for you to work.
On ethnicity: He or she may pretend to be fascinated by your last name and casually ask where you are from or about your ancestry. Or they may offer up information on their own with the hope that you will jump in and compare notes.
On Age: What year did you graduate high school, perhaps you know my sister… Or they may make “flattering” type comments about how fit you are or how healthy and in good shape you are. Also may inquire casually about the age of your children.
There really are so many ways that interviewers try to ask discriminating questions that they cannot all possibly be covered. The most important thing to remember though, is to answer the question in a firm tone with your head held high and your eyes making direct contact and give them an answer that is equally as crafty. You will be able to pull it off when the time comes, as hard and scary as it seems now. Examples regarding the above potential questions would be, “Oh I believe everyone has some sort of faith in their life, which is great as long as they don’t let it interfere with their job responsibilities.” Or for questions regarding family status, you might become excited and passionate in describing how dedicated your mate is to your work and how supportive your whole family is of each other, which makes the unit work really really well. And as for kids, you have found an excellent way to find time to spend with your children without letting it interfere with the hours that you desire to put into work. You can even throw in that one great thing about their ages is that they have bedtimes because you, being an overachiever (try to blush) sometimes likes to do extra work at night from your home, just to keep ahead of the game and learn more about this fascinating industry and with them sleeping the house is nice and quiet and oh, the most perfect place to do quality work.
So, I got a little carried away but I think you get my drift. If the employer wants to disguise his or her motives or curiosities to you, well, then, switch into task oriented mode and do what you have learned to do that has gotten you this far into the business world or through school so far. Stand up for yourself, charm their pants off with your indirect answers that excitedly go above and beyond what they were “supposedly” trying to ask and by all means, play the game right back. I realize this sort of almost fake and borderline lying approach to dealing with a potential boss or fellow employee may be a bad way to start out a relationship, but let’s face it. You want the job and you know the information the interviewer was nosily trying to ascertain is irrelevant to anything about your capabilities as an employee. So work your magic like a true business person would in order to get in that door and chances are these topics will never come up again. And from that point on you can relax and feel free to be the honest, hard working, and leadership oriented individual you truly are.
I should also be sure to mention though, as light and relaxed as I am trying to make this potentially stressful and fear inducing topic for readers who may find themselves facing this illegal interviewing problem, the matter is indeed very serious. Not to mention completely illegal and a major violation of one’s rights to privacy. This article was designed more to give the reader some inspiration to get out there and do what needs to be done to succeed, in sort of a fight or flight approach. I do suggest at anyone preparing for an interview, though, to at least glance over another article I am publishing on Associated Content dealing with the same illegal interviewing matter, only through a more stern and analytical discussion. I feel that many may find that article equally as useful, despite its “down to business” type of style.
The title of the work is, “Discrimination During Job Interviews: Report Illegal Questioning Or Remain Silent And Score the Job? What to do.”
Once again, I have no direct link but you can find it on my content page or search for it in the Associated Content search engine.