Nasty interviews

Some interviewers make mistakes. Some, according to a lot of feedback over the years, don't know what they're doing.

Some are just plain strange. Some are potentially risky.

Badly managed interviews are usually conducted by badly trained people.

The interview is a formal legal process, covered by employment law. It's also covered by anti-discrimination legislation and privacy laws.

There are some questions which aren't appropriate, and some which are breaches of privacy.

Personal remarks or offensive behavior are also not permissible.

Unfortunately for some applicants, a few interviewers don't know that, but you should, so you know your rights.

Rights of interviewees:

All rights conferred by anti discrimination laws:

Meaning no discrimination on grounds of sex, age, marital status, race, religion, ethnic origin, disability, or sexual preferences.

It doesn't matter whether you're going out with a Martian, or whether you're a Martian yourself. No form of discrimination is legal. If the interviewer doesn't know that, you may want to reconsider the job.

(You retain the right to take legal action if you're discriminated against, whether you have the job or not.)

All rights of privacy:

You have the right to confidentiality as defined by your local privacy laws. You do not have to provide any information, except as reasonably required by an employer, and even then only for legitimate business reasons.

Almost all personal information can be considered private, for legal purposes.

You may also consider some questions to be a breach of privacy. In that case you are entitled to ask whether you have to provide that information.

If the employer says you do, double check with your national government department administering privacy laws, or any non-government body.

Most employers do know the law, and cite the laws appropriately when you're filling in forms, or giving details like your address, phone number, etc.

It's actually a breach of law to ask for this information when it's not strictly necessary for performance of business requirements.

When an interview turns nasty or weird

If you don't like the way the interview is being conducted, you have the option to leave, and take action if you think it's merited. You've committed time and effort to making your application. Depending on the laws in your country, you probably do have some legal or regulatory right to make a complaint.

There are other considerations. If you just don't like the look of the place, and you feel at risk, you can back out, before it even starts. Just say you changed your mind.

For example, if an interview seems:

  • Intimidating
  • Threatening
  • Unprofessional
  • Risky
  • Bullying
  • Rude
  • Hostile
  • To be conducted in a place you consider inappropriate

You can use your own judgment about the situation. If you don't like the interview for reasons like that, you certainly won't like the job.

Risks and safety precautions

It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

We make a point of warning younger people, when going for jobs, to be careful, and screening out any private information, on CV Tips.

Sadly, people looking for work are vulnerable, sometimes desperate, and do occasionally come into contact with undesirable elements.

That applies to everyone, not just younger people. Whether you're a kid going for a first part time job or a retiree reentering the workforce, stay alert. If something looks wrong, it probably is.

Safety issues

  • When going for an interview, make sure someone knows where you'll be, and when, and when you're expecting to be back.
  • Check out the place where the interview is being held, beforehand. You can learn how to find your way around the area, while you're at it. If it doesn't look like a place of business, get suspicious.
  • Make a note of the interview time, place, and who the interview is with.
  • Bring your phone, or make sure you have access to a phone. Put it on silent signal, but make sure it's operational.

These are relatively rare events, but you always need to keep your wits about you when you're in any unusual or odd situation.