What are illegal questions and tactful responses?

Interviewers may be breaking the law if they ask the following questions

Personal details

  • How old are you?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • How tall are you?

Personal relationships

  • Are you married, divorced, separated, or single?
  • Are you living with anyone?
  • Are you practicing birth control?
  • What does your spouse/partner think about your career?

Social or political affiliations

  • What social or political organizations do you belong to?
  • Do you attend church/services/prayer meetings regularly?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

Personal finances

  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you have many debts?
  • How much insurance do you have?

There are two main ways to respond tactfully.

  1. You can choose not to answer the question. It is within your rights not to answer. Respond politely but firmly, saying something like, “This question makes me uncomfortable. May I speak about my professional experiences instead?”
  2. You may choose to answer the question. If you get the job, you can work from within the organization to bring the problem to their attention.

If you believe that you’ve been asked an illegal question, please contact the Piper Center.
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