What’s the most unusual question you’ve been asked in an interview? In theory, the answer to this question should be a challenging question about your work. But, theory and reality don’t always line up.
What would you say if I told you I was once asked, “Are you married?” What if I told you I was also asked, “Do you have children?” And, what would you say if I told you I was also asked, “Do you plan to have children anytime soon?”
The first thing you may be thinking is…. “Angela, is this a joke? Surely nobody asked you these questions. They’re obviously ILLEGAL and INAPPROPRIATE! Nobody would ask these questions.
Well, if you guessed that, you would be wrong. Not only was I asked all three of these questions, but I was asked all three of these questions in ONE job interview.
You might assume that the person who asked me the questions was junior in their career. I mean, these are the kinds of things HR is supposed to brief hiring managers on, right? Wrong. The hiring manager who asked me these questions was a C-level executive at a very well known company. If I were to name the company, you’d know it. You’ve probably spent money with them before.
So, what can you about this sort of thing? Well, the first is, don’t be part of the problem. It’s obvious, but when you’re hiring, be sure to brush up on which questions you can and can’t ask candidates. To be honest, some are less obvious than you might think.
If you’re interviewing for a job and you’re asked these questions, it’s really up to you. You can answer the questions in a straight forward way, you can be direct and tell the hiring manager that the questions are illegal, or you can sidestep the questions completely.
Nobody would blame you for any reaction. You wouldn’t have blamed me if I had gotten up and left the interview, would you?
What I did may surprise you…
I answered the questions directly. Then, I made a mental note that I would not want to work for someone who was so disrespectful — and who so openly was willing to break the law by asking these questions.
If you’re asked illegal questions, just be prepared for how you might want to answer them. Remember that there’s no right way. It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with.
If you’re looking for more information on sticky legal situations that can arise during your job search, check out my podcast with employment law attorney Chip Cavagnaro.