Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Interview Questions and Answers

How to Answer Illegal Questions

Various federal, state and local laws regulate the questions prospective employers can ask a job candidate during the interview process. These laws are in place to prevent discrimination (based upon nationality/citizenship, age, marital/family status, affiliations, disabilities, arrest record, military service, etc.).

Questions asked during the interview must relate directly to your ability to perform the functions of the job. While most employers don't intend to ask illegal questions, occasionally job seekers do encounter them during an interview.

If asked an “illegal question,” you have three options:

  1. Answer the question--if you wish. However, if you choose to answer the question, remember you’re giving information that isn't related to the job. (In fact, you could harm your chances of getting the job.)
  2. Refuse to answer the question, which is well within your rights. Unfortunately, depending on how you phrase your refusal, you run the risk of coming off as uncooperative.
  3. Examine the question for its intent and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job.