Illegal Job Interview Questions

By: Jimmy Sweeney

Author of the brand new "Job Interview Secret"

Secret Illegal Job Interview Questions Revealed

Illegal job interview questions include questions that seek to elicit answers that would reveal information that no candidate is required to give to a prospective employer. Specifically, these questions are questions that ask for information about the candidate’s legally protected categories of age, race, religious beliefs, country of origin, marital status, physical disabilities that do not impact job performance and (in some states) sexual preference. The legal basis of prohibiting these questions is that by U.S. law, employers are forbidden from making hiring decisions based on these factors. Consequently, there is no legitimate reason for the employer to ask for information regarding them.

As a practical matter, asking these illegal job interview questions could potentially set the employer up for a discrimination lawsuit or criminal charges. For this to happen, it would have to be made evident that the employer asked the questions, then made a hiring decision against that candidate based on that information. Whatever the outcome of that lawsuit, it would undoubtedly cost the employer time, money and energy that would better be spent performing the business tasks. For the interviewer, it’s important to avoid these topics as stringently as possible. For the candidate, it’s a good idea to have a plan of action ready if those illegal job interview questions are ever asked.

Avoiding Illegal Job Interview Questions

Avoiding illegal job interview questions can be tricky. Seemingly simple and innocent questions, such as what kind of hobbies a candidate enjoys in his or her spare time or when he or she graduated college might be interpreted by a litigious candidate to be attempts to determine marital status or age, for example. As a result, the interviewer should stick to questions about job performance, experience and topics directly related to the execution of the job duties. As a candidate, if you receive a question that you feel is illegal, you have a decision to make. Do you answer that question and continue the interview, or do you refuse to answer it? Though you have the legal right to refuse to answer that question, and to inform the employer that he or she asked an illegal query, that may or may not be the best decision. It will instantly put a note of contention in the interview, and will embarrass the interviewer, hardly a recipe for job interview success.

For that reason, your reaction to the illegal job interview questions should be determined by context. If, for example, the interviewer made a simple, innocent mistake you could either answer the question or finesse your answer in a way to protect your rights without taking a confrontational tone. Whatever your decision, be sure to document the question and your response immediately afterwards. If you feel that your candidacy was unfairly and illegally impacted by that illegal question, you might have a legal case against that employer. If you get the job, on the other hand, you will have an opportunity to explain to your former interviewer, your new co-worker, about the question’s doubtful legality and help him or her to avoid a similar mistake.

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