Illegal Questions
by Carole Martin


The female candidate was asked, "Do you plan to have children?" She was taken aback by the question and wasn't sure how to answer.

She had three choices:

To answer the question honestly even though she did not want to.
To tell the interviewer it is none of his business and the question is illegal.
To deal with the concern behind the question, ignoring the illegal question itself.
How would you answer the question if you were the female candidate?

The best answer is "C."

An appropriate answer from the candidate might have been, "Whether or not I plan to have children in the future is not really relevant to my career. I plan to work and have a career no matter what happens in my personal life."

Why is this type of question asked in an interview? Why are interviewers concerned about your plans to reproduce, your marital status and your retirement plans? It's simple; they want to make sure you are the solution to a problem, not the source of more headaches.

When the female candidate was asked her plans regarding future motherhood, the interviewer may have been trying to determine whether she was in for the long-term or just until the company could pay for the birth of her firstborn. It is clearly a discriminatory question, one that would probably never be asked of a male candidate, and it is illegal!

Technically, it is illegal for an interviewer to ask anything personal that is not directly job-related. Off-limit questions include (but are not limited to): information regarding your age, marital status, country of origin, religion, sexual preference and health status. Almost any legal information about you is illegal in the job interview.

There are some exceptions to this rule, which might be confusing. Personal questions considered to be job-related usually are allowed in the interview or on the job application.

Legal Personal Questions:

Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Depending on the type of job you are applying for, this could be critical.

Can you show proof of your eligibility to work in the US?

Every new employee, regardless of place of origin, must provide such documentation during the first days on the job.

Can you perform the job's essential functions with or without reasonable accommodation?

This question must be accompanied by a job description covering the essential functions.

The concerns behind these questions are relevant to the job's requirements and performance. As an example, if you have been convicted of embezzlement, you will probably not be considered for a job handling money. The concern is that you had a problem in your past that could be a problem again.

The interviewer wants to know if you can report to work and do the job. Any information that could be enlightening is important. But the interviewer's questions should focus on the job and your qualifications to do it.

By becoming aware of illegal questions, you will be prepared to deal with them if confronted in an interview. Pre-interview thinking and preparation can spare some embarrassing or uncomfortable moments during the interview.

Some Interviewing Rules

In the current job market, you'd better have your act together, or you won't stand a chance against the competition. Check yourself on these 10 basic points before you go on that all-important interview.

1. Look Sharp.

Before the interview, select your outfit. Depending on the industry and position, get out your best duds and check them over for spots and wrinkles. Even if the company has a casual environment, you don't want to look like you slept in your clothes. Above all, dress for confidence. If you feel good, others will respond to you accordingly.

2. Be on Time.

Never arrive late to an interview. Allow extra time to arrive early in the vicinity, allowing for factors like getting lost. Enter the building 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.

3. Do Your Research.

Researching the company before the interview and learning as much as possible about its services, products, customers and competition will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company's needs. The more you know about the company and what it stands for, the better chance you have of selling yourself. You also should find out about the company's culture to gain insight into your potential happiness on the job.

4. Be Prepared.

Bring along a folder containing extra copies of your resume, a copy of your references and paper to take notes. You should also have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview.

5. Show Enthusiasm.

A firm handshake and plenty of eye contact demonstrates confidence. Speak distinctly in a confident voice, even though you may feel shaky.

6. Listen.

One of the most neglected interviewing skills is listening. Make sure you are not only listening, but also reading between the lines. Sometimes what is not said is just as important as what is said.

7. Answer the Question Asked.

Candidates often don't think about whether or not they actually are answering the questions asked by their interviewers. Make sure you understand what is being asked, and get further clarification if you are unsure.

8. Give Specific Examples.

One specific example of your background is worth 50 vague stories. Prepare your stories before the interview. Give examples that highlight your successes and uniqueness. Your past behavior can indicate your future performance.

9. Ask Questions.

Many interviewees don't ask questions and miss the opportunity to find out valuable information. Your questions indicate your interest in the company or job.

10. Follow up.

Whether it's through email or regular mail, the follow-up is one more chance to remind the interviewer of all the valuable traits you bring to the job and company. You don't want to miss this last chance to market yourself.

It is important to appear confident and cool for the interview. One way to do that is to be prepared to the best of your ability. There is no way to predict what an interview holds, but by following these important rules you will feel less anxious and will be ready to positively present yourself.


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Illegal Interview Questions

with some Interviewing Rules

By : Carole Martin