Has an interviewer ever asked you a question that made you feel uncomfortable?

Did you know there are certain interview questions that shouldn’t be asked? They’re not just taboo — they’re illegal. Nevertheless, some inexperienced interviewers may go ahead and try to sneak one of these inappropriate questions into your interview. In fact, a recent survey conducted by TopResume found that four out of five professionals reported feeling ‘uncomfortable’ by interview questions they were asked, and most didn’t know that they shouldn’t have been asked these questions in the first place. A hiring manager may have good intentions — it may simply be an attempt to break the ice or get to know you better. But when it comes down to it, these questions can lead to discrimination in the hiring process.

As a job seeker, it’s important that you’re aware of your rights so you know when you’re being asked a question that you don’t have to answer. Here is a list of inappropriate interview questions to look out for, as well as some tips on how to dodge them with grace.

How old are you?

The only thing an interviewer needs to know is that you are over the age of 18. Otherwise, all age-related questions are off-limits. On a similar note, you also cannot be asked how soon you are planning to retire.

How do I dodge it?

Simply tell the interviewer that you are over the age of 18. If asked to submit a photo ID, state that you are concerned about identity theft and would prefer not to until it’s decided whether or not you’ll be joining the company.

What is your marital status? Do you have children?

This is one of those instances where an interviewer is likely just trying to make conversation. The intentions may be good, but questions about marital status, children, or family plans aren’t up for grabs in the interview room. This includes questions about child care arrangements, which an interviewer may bring up out of concern for the applicant’s ability to take on certain job-related responsibilities.

How do I dodge it?

Turn the question back on the interviewer. If asked about your marital status, go for a response like “It sounds like family is important to you. Are you married?” If asked about child care arrangements, get to the root of the question and respond to whether or not you have restrictions that could interfere with any of the job’s responsibilities.

Related: Ask Amanda: How Do I Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview?

What is your nationality? Where are you from?

National origin is a federally protected class, therefore you don’t have to answer any questions about your nationality, citizenship, or how long you’ve lived in the United States.

How do I dodge it?

Keep it simple — explain that you’re legally eligible to work in the United States. That’s all the interviewer really needs to know.

What are your religious beliefs?

To prevent discrimination based on religious practices, an interviewer cannot ask about your spiritual beliefs or religious affiliation. Similarly, it is illegal for an interviewer to ask if you will need time off for religious holidays.

How do I dodge it?

Try to figure out what the interviewer is really concerned about in asking this question — perhaps it’s about your availability to work certain times or days of the week. Respond to those concerns, and you can leave your spiritual beliefs aside.

Other Illegal Interview Question Topics

Disability: Asking questions about disability is also illegal, thanks to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and its declaration that it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against someone with a disability. This applies to both physical disability and mental illness.

Gender and Sexual Orientation: These are next on the list of off-limits topics for interview questions. If one of them comes up, respond by focusing on what skills you can bring to the job, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Previous Salary (NYC, Philadelphia, MA): If you live in New York City, Philadelphia, or the state of Massachusetts, an interviewer is not allowed to ask about your previous salary. If you live outside of these areas, check out these tips for how to tackle tough salary questions.

Nailing an interview is all about being prepared. That means knowing how to handle not only the questions you expect, but also the ones that you don’t. These questions may be illegal for the interview room, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come your way every now and then. By knowing your rights as a job seeker, you can dodge an inappropriate interview question and keep potential discrimination out of your job search. Click on the following link to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more information on the types of discrimination that are illegal in the hiring process.

Disclaimer: TopResume is not a substitute for professional legal advice This article is intended for guidance only.

Want to ace the interview? Hire a TopInterview professional interview coach today!

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