Despite the fact that women are supposed to have the same opportunities as men in the corporate world, they are often the subject of discrimination during interviews. There are several illegal interview questions, all of which are actionable as civil matters, but women must first be educated about their rights during the interview process.
Women who are desperate to find work, especially after being laid-off from another job, may not make an issue out of illegal interview questions because they think they won’t be able to find employment. However, ignoring an inappropriate question sets the stage for future discrimination, so women must stand up for their rights during interviews and after they are hired.
Unfortunately, many employers are uneducated about illegal interview questions, and might unintentionally victimize women. For example, if you are asked about how many children you have, and subsequently if you’ll be taking time off when the yare sick, is illegal. However, it might seem to an uninformed employer that this question just makes good business sense. After all, he wants a reliable employee.
Similarly, some employers try to present an atmosphere of friendliness, but become too friendly with illegal interview questions. Things you might ask an acquaintance at a bar-such as, “How long have you been married?”-are not appropriate for the workplace, and can even lead to lawsuits. So maintain a professional demeanor at all times when interviewing for jobs.
Women looking for jobs should pay careful attention to interview questions related to their marital status, sex life, children and age, because they may be illegal. In general, if an employer wouldn’t ask the same question of a man, it probably isn’t appropriate. For example, some employers don’t like to hire women who are planning to have children. If you’re asked about the types of contraceptives you and your husband use, the employer has overstepped his bounds.
Of course, illegal interview questions are not limited to those asked by a male boss. Don’t assume that just because you’re interviewing with another woman, that she has every right to ask whatever she wants. She might simply be expressing solidarity has a professional woman, but there must be boundaries when you’re in an employer-employee (or employer-interviewee) relationship.
When women are asked illegal interview questions, they have several options from which to choose. First, then can politely decline to answer the question, making no mention of its illegality, or they can remind the employer that the question breaks the law. Alternatively, they can leave the interview and inform the EEOC authorities, or they can simply answer the question, though I don’t recommend this option.
You should also know that if women are asked illegal interview questions, answering them doesn’t change a thing. If you find out at a later date that the question was inappropriate, you can still report that employer to the EEOC. In fact, this is the best course of action, because it may benefit other women down the road who apply for the same job.