However, as per the federal law, any question asked related to your age, national origin, religion, disability, race or ethnicity, sex, genetic or hereditary information, pregnancy related facts is considered off the lid, says Lori Adelson, Fort Lauderdale-based Adelson Law & Mediation labor, and employment attorney. Sometimes, hiring managers are not exactly HR specialists; they would be simply asked to interview the candidate and check if he is fit for the team. In a hurry and search to find a colleague, they might ask unappealing interview questions.
Now as the candidate what should you do if you are such situations? It’s curt and tough to promptly correct a recruiter and that’s where your thoughtfulness comes in. Answering any interview question prudently is your best weapon in situations like these. You should remain calm, composed and focused on judging if a company is really up for you. The type of questions hiring manager would ask can be revealing the culture of the company. One you should take visual cues and pay attention to what is being asked, discussed and how the interviewer is interacting with you.
With that in mind, we have identified five examples, just as a question for each type of inappropriate category of interview questions that should cause you to doubt company's credibility and culture. After the examples, we will be equipped with expert advice for how to handle anything that encounters of such instances and handle them like a pro.
Example 1: “Most of our employees are young and put in 14 hours of work a day. Would you be willing to take up this kind of challenge?”
Why It Is Inappropriate: Any questions that are related and intended to find your age and ability to work are off-limits as per state and federal recommendations.
How to Handle: Though it is against the federal law for a recruiter to ask a question about your age, Alison Doyle of The Balance says, “Hiring managers are allowed to ask whether you can handle the workload and the schedule. When responding, you can leave the age part out and discuss how you’ve worked in the past, what type of schedule was involved, and explain how you can handle the challenges of this role. Remember, if long hours aren’t what you’re looking for you don’t have to take the job if you get an offer.”
Example 2: “Congratulations on getting back to the workforce. As you have a family, do you require a flexible schedule? May I know if you are planning for more kids?”
Why It Is Inappropriate: A question about family should be a no-no but, alas, a naive interviewer, or worse, one that does not value women in the workplace may still ask them.
How to Handle: “A polite way to respond to questions about children is to answer that you’ll be able to perform all the duties of the position,” says Doyle. “It’s answering with a non-answer, but this can be more diplomatic than refusing to answer. The interviewer may not be aware that they shouldn’t ask, and it’s best to keep the conversation positive and focused on your qualifications and skills.” While many parents will be enticed to discuss flexible work schedules in initial rounds of interviews, it is better to answer this question when the time is ripe. Senior HR's advice to this answer would be to say that that you’re available to work the normally scheduled time for the job than to request for flexible timings so early in the recruitment process.
Example #3: Can suggest better ways of recruiting people of color for my company?
Why It Is Inappropriate: This may seem to be a sincere question, but it is inappropriate because of the lack of timing. Hiring Manager might have good intentions in getting inputs for diversifying recruitment strategy. But, a job interview is not the time for such question to be asked and a candidate should not be compelled to answer because they belong to an ethnic minority.
How to Handle: It is best to carry on and avoid this potential as elegantly as possible, when posed such a question. HR adviser Copeland advises that “Afterward, take the time to reflect on your feelings and whether or not this is someone you want to work for,”. A correct answer to this cramped question could be, “You see, I haven't got much experience in recruitment, Since I’m an engineer/__________, I’m so glad that you have asked this question and that your company values diversity.’ Answer the question briskly and promptly to the end the conversation so that you can on to something more applicable.
Example #4: “We’re a startup company but filled with strong goal driven, anxiety-prone go-getters. Is that going to be a problem for you, sir? Have you worked well with women managers in the past?”
Why It Is Inappropriate: The question presumes that different genders would have a problem working with each other and assumes worst case scenario for the candidate. This question depicts a seriously complicated company culture.
How to Handle: No matter how this question is framed, it’s a difficult one to answer. If you read the question carefully again, the hiring manager has put you into a category assuming that you are different and unsure if you are fit to cope up with Type-A category women bosses. The best answer when a recruiter asks you about being different would be to highlight your strengths and be diplomatic. ‘I have worked with all kinds of people throughout my career and pulled off well. I’m very good at teamwork, and very excited about this job opportunity and ready to add value to this company'” would be the ideal answer.
Example #5: “We like our workers to carry themselves in a particular way. Do you think you can put your financial problems aside and rise to the occasion here?”
Why It Is Inappropriate: Here the point of discussion is not about race or gender at the workplace, but about treating white- and blue-collar workers the same way. The question clearly shows that the employer can be discriminated on socioeconomic factors.
How to Handle: “ As the question reveals the candidate is being judged by his or her appearance. That is why, whatever financial condition we are, it is always better to research and learn about the company and it's culture before being interviewed for a job. HR manager Copeland says “Dress to your best in a proper way such a way that the company and the recruiter can relate you with their company's values or culture. If you are unfortunate of getting questioned this way, put add a positive spirit to your answer. Your answer should be along the lines of, ‘I am proud of an experience and having a track record of comfort working with divergent groups of people. I’m positive I will flourish in this role due to my skill sets and enormous experience.'