Job interviewers typically ask questions like, “Why do you want this job?” and, “What are your greatest weaknesses?” Sometimes they pose more oddball queries like, “Why are tennis balls fuzzy?” and, “If you were a kitchen utensil, which one would you be?”
But they will occasionally go one step further and cross the line with questions like, “Do you have children?” and, “How much do you weigh?”
In a recent LinkedIn post, Bernard Marr, a global enterprise performance expert and a best-selling business author, says he’s always astonished to hear that candidates have been asked such inappropriate questions.
“It can be very easy for interviewers to cross the line and ask questions that are inappropriate, and in many cases even illegal,” he says. “I believe that asking those questions in most cases [is] not done on purpose, but [rather] because of a lack of training and awareness, or even to break the ice and create a more friendly atmosphere.”
But the purpose of the job interview is to establish whether you are right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for you, Marr adds. So the questions you’re asked should never go beyond the professional assessment of your skills, enthusiasm, and fit.
Here are 14 commonly asked interview questions that Marr says are inappropriate and even illegal in many parts of the world:
- Do you have any children?
- How old are you?
- What is your citizen status?
- What is your weight?
- What is your financial status or credit rating?
- Have you got any debts?
- What is your family status?
- Do you believe in God?
- Where do you go to church?
- Do you drink alcohol?
- What do you do on the weekends?
- What religious holidays do you observe?
- What is your race?
- Have you ever been arrested?
“The tricky thing is how to handle these questions,” Marr says. “Always remember that you don’t have to answer any questions in a job interview that are not related to your job, and you don’t have to answer questions about race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, family status, type of military discharge, or your financial position. You can even terminate the interview and leave.”
One way to respond: “I don’t believe the question is relevant to assess my suitability for this job.”
But know that refusing to answer a question can create a very awkward atmosphere and even jeopardize any chance of securing the job, he says. “If you are happy to reveal the answers, you can simply answer the questions, but remember, it is your right not to.”
Read the full LinkedIn post here.
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