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Illegal interview questions may lead to employment discrimination

As a woman, you may already feel as if the deck is stacked against you, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Even if you feel that you have the qualifications and skills necessary to obtain an open position or to receive a promotion, you may feel that your superiors unnecessarily scrutinize your work, or you may feel that you were treated unfairly during the interview process.

It is true that employment discrimination can occur even before getting hired. In some cases, the person conducting the interview may ask you certain questions that you feel do not pertain to the job or have any other connection to the interview. It may interest you to know that some questions are illegal to ask. Still, you may wonder the best way to handle these inquiries in the event that they do come up.

Have you been asked these questions?

During an interview, you may feel particularly focused on giving clear and appropriate answers to any questions posed to you. Because you believe that these situations should adhere to a professional code, you may not think that an interviewer would ask you an inappropriate or illegal question. As a result, you may simply feel as if you need to answer every question because certainly it applies in some way or another.

However, not all interview questions apply to the job, and you do not have to answer every question. For instance, some examples of illegal job interview questions include the following:

  • What is your marital status?
  • Do you have a working spouse?
  • Do you have children?
  • What are the ages of your children?
  • If you get pregnant, what are your plans?
  • Are you on birth control?
  • What are your childcare arrangements?

You may notice a theme in these questions relating to children and pregnancy. A potential employer could use these illegal interview questions in order to discriminate against you if you have children or plan to have children in the near future.

How should you handle these questions?

As mentioned, you may feel that it is in your best interests to answer any question asked during the interview. However, you do have options for fielding questions that you find inappropriate. For instance, you could do any of the following:

  • Answer the question
  • State that you do not feel comfortable answering the question
  • Ask how the question is relevant to the job
  • Address the interview's underlying concern

If you were passed over for a position in which any of these questions came up, you may have been the victim of employment discrimination. If so, you may feel the need to address this injustice. Exploring your legal options for handling discrimination may help you determine your best courses of action.

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