Avoiding Illegal Questions In An Interview

By: Anurag Gupta | In: Interview Tips | Last Updated: 2010-08-09

The first question an interviewer generally asks you is "Tell something about yourself." Within this single question provide as much personal or professional information that you are willing to let the interviewer know. There are certain ethics, which the interviewer and the interviewee have to follow. The interviewee for example cannot ask direct questions unless he is given the permission to do so and cannot avoid necessary questions. There are certain questions which you, as an interviewee, have the right to not answer. These are generally called illegal questions.

Some of the major illegal questions are:

  • Questions related to your name like asking the meaning of your name or asking last name or maiden name are considered illegal. An interviewer does not have the right to ask these questions.
  • Questions related to your age, unless you are under the age of 18, are considered illegal. An interviewer cannot directly or indirectly ask questions related to your age.
  • Questions related to your nationality like about your native language, your parental background, your birthplace or your country of origin are considered illegal. You have the right not to answer them.
  • Personal questions related to you height, weight or some disability are completely illegal.
  • Interviewer should not ask questions related to your religion or cultural background.
  • Questions related to you marital status or about your children, if you have any, are not legal and you have the right to avoid them.
  • Your legal background should not be made the topic of the interview and should be ably avoided by you.

Though some questions asked are point blank and some are asked indirectly, you have the right not to answer either. Some of the best ways to avoid answering such questions are:

  • The first thing you should do on being asked an illegal question is to politely avoid it and try to change the topic. If the interviewer was genuinely curious and did not realize the personal nature of the question, he or she will take the hint and change the cue.
  • Another thing to do if you are asked a discriminatory question is to tell them politely that they are asking an illegal or discriminatory question.
  • After telling the interviewer about your comfort level in answering that question, if he/she still insists on knowing the answer, then instead of hanging around or pondering what to do, simply exit the interview.
  • There are other legal options as well. You can consult an employment lawyer about the legality of the interview procedure.

Keep the above mentioned points in mind while appearing for an interview so as to avoid any uncomfortable situations at the time of the interview.

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