How to deal with illegal job interview questions

In accordance with employment laws, there are certain questions that interviewers should not be asking you.

For example:

  • a question relating to your age that would not be asked of someone younger, or older, than you would be breeching the Age Discrimination Act (2006)
  • a question relating to whether you are male or female, that has no bearing on the role, could be considered a direct breech of the Sexual Discrimination Act (1975)

or,  have you felt uncomfortable with questions about your race, disability or sexual orientation?

I was once asked in an interview for an office job if I was planning at any stage to get pregnant and go on maternity leave as they didnt want someone who was going to be off having children. I was a bit taken aback and asked them if they would have asked that question if I was male and they said, “Well of course not”. I walked out of the be interview. I didn’t want to work for a company like that.

So what is the best way of handling such “illegal” questions? In an interview when you are probably nervous anyway this is added pressure you don’t need. You need to answer assertively to get your point across but without being confrontational.  You could of course walk out, like I did, but if you really want to work for them then responses such as:

“I am sure that question is just a friendly enquiry but I’d prefer not  to answer that as I don’t think it has any bearing on my ability to do the job”

“Can I tell you about my work experience instead?”

Leave a comment about the kind of uncomfortable questions you have been asked that you feel were discriminative (but don’t name the company that asked – I don’t want a lawsuit on my hands!) and the responses you gave. I’m intrigued to know if interviewers are a bit more careful these days or not!




One Response to “How to deal with illegal job interview questions”

  1. Adrian warren says:

    It’s two questions that my wife keeps getting asked on nearly all the job interviews she’s been on. First, are you planning on having any more children and what are our child care arrangements.
    My wife has said that it’s a little early at this point to say we are going to have more, and that we have child care covered. What else can we do? On paper she’s perfect for these jobs a degree and has been a manager for two very large companies, a cinema chain and a theme park has done book keeping with these companies and retail and customer service too, and they say she doesn’t have enough experience in these areas. We are starting to wonder if there maybe another reason?

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