Interview Questions and Answers: Inappropriate interview questions

Inappropriate interview questions are the result of mistakes by interviewers.

The interviewees, however, still have to figure out how to deal with them and produce interview answers.

Nobody claims the interview process is flawless. Some interviewers aren't sufficiently trained, some are just lousy interviewers. This isn't the sort of experience people want to have, and dealing with it requires some understanding of the problems. So do the interview answers.

The basic definitions of 'inappropriate' interview questions are:

  • Interview questions which breach equal opportunity laws
  • Interview questions which breach privacy laws
  • Interview questions which are outside the parameters of the interview

Interview answers for interview questions which shouldn't have been asked are tricky, by any standards.

Interview questions which breach equal opportunity laws

You can't be asked about anything covered by Equal Opportunity laws. Religion, ethnicity, sexual preferences, gender based interview questions, etc, are all off limits. Your interview answer can be confined to asking if the question is permitted under Equal Opportunity laws.

Interview questions which breach privacy laws

Personal questions, questions about family, marital status, or questions related to personal business which do not relate to the subject of the job interview are covered in this category. The best interview answer is 'As far as I'm aware that subject is covered by privacy laws.' There's no good reason for interview questions on these subjects.

Interview questions which are outside the parameters of the interview

Some subjects have nothing to do with the job. Questions about politics, for example, are nothing to do with your interview. Your democratic rights aren't a basis for discussion, and they're definitely not part of the essential job criteria. Your interview answer is 'I'm going to have to decline to answer that question, because it's outside the scope of the interview.'

The 'benefits' of inappropriate interview questions

Inappropriate interview questions can act as warnings that either the job or your interviewers aren't really up to scratch.

Experienced interviewers don't waste time asking inappropriate interview questions. They just don't ask them.

If you receive inappropriate questions, you're entitled to ask yourself if you think the interview is worth continuing.

In some jobs which are based on commission or dodgy sales contracts, you'll find that the people interviewing you aren't too knowledgeable about the real employment basics. You can be sure the job, and the working conditions, may be equally spotty.

Examples

The interview question is 'Do you feel comfortable working with people so much younger than you?'

In this case the interviewee isn't offended, the question is just badly phrased. The interview answer is: 'Sure, I don't think age has anything to do with it,' which is correct in more ways than one, because it doesn't.

The interview question is 'Are you thinking of getting pregnant?'

That question is a breach of privacy, an offence against Equal Opportunity, and has nothing at all to do with the job.

The interview answer is 'That question is inappropriate'.