Wondering which questions you'll be asked during your job interview? You should expect the usual ones, such as "Where do you see yourself in five years?" and "What's your greatest weakness?" But then there are more colorful questions, such as "What animal best describes you?" and "If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you?" that you should brace yourself for.
Regardless of what questions get thrown your way, there are a handful of interview questions you should never be asked. Be aware - questions about subjects in these categories violate your rights:
|• Age||• National origin|
|• Birthplace||• Race|
|• Color||• Religion|
|• Disability||• Sex|
|• Marital/family status|
However, don't assume an employer's prying questions are suggestive of discriminatory intentions. Often, a hiring manager is just trying to assess your fit for the job, not trying to illegally discriminate. While you can't be asked directly about any of these topics, don't be surprised if you find yourself discussing your family or religion with a potential employer either. It all depends on how the question is phrased. While it's important to protect yourself from illegal interview questions, there are legal alternatives to get the same information out of you. Be prepared and know your options by checking out these six examples of illegal interview questions, and how they can be rephrased to pass the law.
1) ILLEGAL: "Are you a U.S. citizen?"
LEGAL: "Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?"
Employers aren't allowed to ask about your national origin, and that includes inquiring about your citizenship status. Touchy immigration issues aside, this question makes unnecessary assumptions based on your looks and racial stereotypes. On the flip side, employers can ask if you're allowed to work in the U.S. By rephrasing the question, they're avoiding directly asking if you're a citizen, green card holder, or on a visa. [5 Top-Ranked States for Women]
2) ILLEGAL: "How old are you? When did you graduate from college?"
LEGAL: "Are you over the age of 18?"
Whether you're 18 going on 48 or 60 going on 40, employers are not allowed to discriminate against age (which is what the first question implies). However, when asked differently, the question becomes legal; the legal phrasing implies an age range, not a specific number. After all, employers need to know their employees are over 18 years of age to work legally in the U.S. [Can Looking Too Young Hurt Your Career?]
3) ILLEGAL: "Are you married? How many children do you have? Who do you live with?
LEGAL: "Can you relocate if necessary? Are you willing to travel as a part of this job? Can you work overtime as necessary?"
Your marital and family status are not being interviewed here - you are. Anything about your living situation, roommates, fiancés, spouses, children, etc., is off limits. While employers might simply be trying to gauge how busy you are in your personal life to see if it clashes with work responsibilities, it's illegal to make a hiring decision based on this factor. As a potential employee, if you can commit to the necessary work hours and agree to the job requirements, your other responsibilities shouldn't matter. Women should especially be wary of being asked for their maiden name - not required for employers if it isn't legally your name. (But you can be asked if you've ever worked under another name.) [Are Working Moms Discriminated Against?]
By Hamsa Ramesha for Excelle
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