Too much, too soon? Job interview questions you should avoid answering

"Are you single?"

Job interviewers, whether they work in HR or are a part of the management team, are crafty gatekeepers.¬†They read your body language, they play mind games with you to uncover your hard-wired tendencies, and they extract information you didn’t even know you were giving them. Filtering candidates according to the company’s values is the name of their game.

Sometimes you’ll get asked questions you’ll think twice about answering. Here’s a few from my personal experience as a candidate: “Where do you live?”; “How old are you?”; “Do you live with someone?”… Whoah! I realize that there are lots of interesting parallels between job interviewing and speed dating, but we’re not exactly sitting in a resto-lounge chatting over mojitos on a five-minute rotation! Are these questions legal? No.

Be wary of topics concerning race, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, age, or mental or physical disability. The Canada Human Resources Centre made a neat chart that highlights some popular no-no questions you should be aware of. Although this article is geared toward the U.S. employment market, it will tell you what kind of questions you should watch out for and what you’re inadvertently releasing about yourself during a job interview.

Bullet points for dodging dodgy questions

So, you’re sitting on the other side of the table with your interviewer and getting a “did you just ask me that?!” feeling?

  • Ask your interviewer to elaborate about the purpose of their question. How exactly is this question related to the position they’re hiring for? Perhaps their explanation will legitimize the situation in some way.
  • You can simply (and politely) decline to answer the question.
  • Whatever you do, stay calm and don’t get defensive!
  • Above all, ask yourself why you’d want to work for an employer who makes you feel uncomfortable!

With that said, good luck playing job interview dodgeball!

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