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You Don’t Have to Answer these Questions

As the economy in New York continues to improve and hiring continues to pick up, it seems like a good time for a refresher on the kinds of interview questions that are illegal. You don’t have to answer these questions and it is your right as the candidate to report the use of these type questions to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Reporting the company is your right but might not be your best choice when looking for a job. Most candidates are not aware of the specifics of what is legal for an employer to ask and what is not. You only know that the question the interviewer just asked you makes you feel a little uneasy and uncomfortable.

Illegal Questions

  • A fairly common question in any interview situation is where you see yourself in five years. This question should only be asked in respect to your career and professionalism, not your personal or family life. If the question is asked in any way to include or imply an inquiry about your plans to care for an elderly parent or begin a family of your own, it is out of bounds.

You cannot be asked about personal, family matters. If you have children you cannot be asked about their care or if you plan to have additional ones. If you have older parents you cannot be asked about plans for their future care either.

  • Another common question interviewers ask is where are you from or where were you born. It may appear that they are just breaking the ice, making conversation as it were, and perhaps they are. Regardless this is an illegal line of questioning. Most often the interviewer is attempting to find out if you are in the US legally or their firm might intentionally discriminate against “foreigners”.

If you are asked if you are a citizen, that is an illegal question. Yet if you are a citizen say so. If not just say you are authorized to work in the U.S. You don’t have to answer the question about citizenship. It is illegal for an employer to hire based on the candidate’s citizenship.

Dealing with Illegal Questions

So what do you do when you are asked questions in an interview that make you uncomfortable or that you think might be illegal? Don’t just answer the question out of fear or intimidation that you would not get the job. Ask the interviewer how the question pertains to the job requirements or responsibilities.

Let the interviewer know that you prefer not to answer questions that are not related to your ability to perform the job or to any function of the job. If you think doing this will cost you the job, set up a meeting with the company’s Human Resource Director and confidentially discuss the situation. If you are still not satisfied you can report the incident with the EEOC.

Conclusion

Just keep in mind that any question you are asked that does not pertain specifically to your qualifications for the job is an illegal question and you do not have to answer it.

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