What to do after being asked an illegal interview question

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2019 | Employment |

Job interviews can be tricky. As an employer tries to learn more about a job seeker’s goals, values and personality, candidates may have to answer some tough questions during the process.

While some uncomfortable questions are necessary to address cultural fit, others may be intrusive, insulting or even discriminatory. If that’s the case, an employer may have asked an illegal interview question. If this happens, it can be uncomfortable, as the interviewee may not always know how to respond.

Questions an employer can’t ask

Even if asked with innocent intentions, there are a variety of questions that are often considered illegal. Those can include asking about one’s criminal history, family status, religion, national origin, age or financial situation. If any of these topics are brought up directly, here is what interviewees can do:

  • Give a brief answer: If an interviewer presses them about a personal question, the candidate can tell them they are happy to answer but wonder how it directly relates to the job, giving the employer a chance to explain themselves.
  • Address the intent of the question: If an interviewer asks a candidate if they have kids, they can answer by saying they can meet the expectations of the position while balancing their personal life.
  • Refocus the conversation: When intrusive questions come up, interviewers can help shift the attention back onto their skills and strengths that make them qualified for the position. For example, if an employer is trying to ask a candidate about their ability to handle work while tending to outside obligations, they can discuss their multitasking and scheduling abilities.

Job seekers deserve protection

Here in California, there are laws in place to protect the state’s workforce from such discrimination. However, that doesn’t always stop companies from bending the rules, even if it’s unintentional at times. Those who got asked illegal interview questions may want to seek legal counsel. An experienced and diligent employment law attorney can help job seekers understand their rights and examine their complaints.