Unfortunately, employers sometimes ask interview questions that are irrelevant or make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s a case of an interviewer not knowing what they shouldn’t be asking during a job interview. Other times the employer knows better, but still asks inappropriate interview questions or says something he or she shouldn’t say to try to get more information from an applicant.
In either case, it can be awkward when you’re asked a question the hiring manager shouldn’t be asking, or when you’re asked something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s not relevant to the job or your qualifications, or it’s personal, it can put you in a challenging situation.
There are many interview questions that employers should not ask, either because they are illegal, or because they are rude or irrelevant. Below are the 3 worst interview questions that employers have actually asked job candidates:
Questions 1: Your Personal Life or Your Body
Some interviewers will ask questions about your personal life, or make comments about your body, which are clearly inappropriate. These are all, unfortunately, real questions that employers have asked, or comments employers have made to candidates:
- Do you have any problems going out drinking with the office on Fridays?
- Where do you live?
- What did you live on while you were out of work?
- You are so cute.
- I want a receptionist who looks like a Playboy bunny.
Questions 2: Your Personal Relationships
Unless it specifically relates to the requirements of the position, an employer should not ask you about your marital or family status, or any of your other personal relationships. Examples of some of the worst questions on this topic include:
- Are you dating someone?
- Are you pregnant?
- Are you married?
- Do you have small children?
- Do you have childcare arrangements lined up?
- Are you a parent?
- If you have kids, how will you do this job when your spouse is deployed (question for someone with a military spouse)?
Questions 3: Your Age
Questions about how old you are can be extremely uncomfortable. These questions can work both ways – you can be considered too old, or too young and not mature enough to do the job. Most age-related questions are illegal if age has nothing to do with the job (an exception would be if you have to be a certain age to legally perform the job). Some uncomfortable age questions and comments include:
- How old are you?
- You are young enough to be my daughter.
- Are you thinking about retiring?
- How do you feel about working for a younger manager?
How to Respond to Inappropriate Interview Questions
What can you do if you’re asked questions that an employer shouldn’t ask? One way to answer illegal or inappropriate questions is to simply state, “This question does not affect my ability to perform the job.” You might then try to reroute the conversation to your relevant skills and abilities.
Before accepting the job, consider if you really want to work for someone who asks such personal or inappropriate questions during the interview. It is likely that their behavior will not improve once you are a paid part of the team.