The interview is hard enough as it is, but what happens when employers ask you an illegal question?  They might do it on purpose, or they might simply be ignorant of the legalities, but it does occur.  This article has some strategies you can use to get through them safely.

Illegal questions include ones like:

  • When do you plan on starting a family?
  • In what country were you born?
  • Are you gay?
  • What is your religion?
  • Do you have a neurological or degenerative disease that caused you to limp into this room?
  • How many years will it be before you qualify for social security?


Here is a brief summary of the ideas for answering them:

  1. Answer with a tactful question of your own to help determine how their question relates to the job.  This will allow them to justify their question or to skip over it and get back on track.
  2. Address the underlying concern behind the question.  Employers primarily want to be reassured that nothing in your personal life or background will affect your ability to do the job, so "try to keep the focus on the job, the company, your abilities, your accomplishments and how you represent a strong fit."
  3. Use the question to evaluate the company culture.  In the end, a company who asks an illegal question may not in fact be the best fit for you in the first place.  If the question is simply an oversight by an inexperienced interviewer, you may be able to overlook it, but if it comes from a deeper-seeded bias within the company, then maybe not.