4 things you don't have to answer at an interview
You’ve spent days preparing for an interview, going through the tough questions and even calling in reinforcements to conduct a mock interview. Basically, you’re ready for anything.
Then on the day of the interview, just as you think you’ve aced it – the hiring manager innocently asks you something discriminatory and potentially illegal, throwing you off completely.
While laws regarding interview questions vary by country, some questions are universally a no-go. It’s important to know when the interviewer is crossing the line and how you’d respond in such a situation.
“Are you married/planning to have children?”
Unless you volunteer this information to arrange for flexi-time conditions, there is no need to answer questions related to your relationship status and plans for a baby. Naturally, this means that questions related to sexual preference are also off the table.
Although a reaction is perfectly justified, it’s important to stay poised and offer a diplomatic response. Saying, “I prefer not to answer this question,” is a good way to handle the curve ball.
“What are your ethnic/religious beliefs?”
Interview or not, it’s never a good idea to ask someone about their religious beliefs. It is unlawful to deny someone a job based on their religious beliefs and practices.
If your religious inclinations impact your office hours, you can volunteer to offer the information – but otherwise just let your interviewer know that you are able to work when they require you to.
“How old are you?”
Candidates usually put down their date of birth on their resume, but it’s not essential information unless it has to do with applying for a job visa or ensuring that a candidate is the minimum age required for the role.
If you’re interviewer continues to fish, politely ask how it’s relevant to the role. “Help me understand why this matters,” or “I’m over 18,” are good ways to navigate this tricky one.
“Do you drink or smoke?”
While an employer can determine professional conduct and disallow consumption of alcohol at the workplace, you cannot be asked about your lifestyle choices in an interview. What you do on your own time is no one else’s business and you can let your employer know that by saying, “It’s not something I do at the workplace”.
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