Interviews can be strange sometimes. You meet new people, and they ask you a lot about yourself, your goals and experiences. And you even answer them. You hardly know them, but because they have something you really want or need, you are ready to tell them your story. And as if that wasn’t strange enough, these people also decide whether or not they like your story, your personality and your way of thinking or living. And if they don’t, you won’t get the job offer.
And because you really don’t want that, you would answer all these questions. Even the ones that shouldn’t be asked at all. Excuse me? There are questions that a personnel manager is not allowed to ask during an interview? YES!
- the age
- the marital status
are forbidden for interviewers to ask. If you are ever asked about one of these topics, you can decide for yourself whether to answer honestly or lie, or simply say that this question is inadmissible.
However, there are also questions that are partly permissible. This means that if it is relevant for the employer to ask these questions because of the activities required for the job, it is legal. Even more: the applicant must tell the truth.
- Pregnancy: When the work activities require physical engagement.
- Religion: For the payroll because you will see the church tax.
- Property relationship: For jobs like a banker or cashier.
- Disabilities: When the work activities require physical engagement.
- Criminal record: For jobs like lawyer or police.
Duty of disclosure!
In this case, the applicant must inform the employer of his/her own accord.
- Sickness which could endanger the colleagues.
- Sentencing to imprisonment starting soon.
- Non-competition clause in case the former employer is in a competition with the potential new employer
How should one react to “inadmissible” questions?
Of course, most of us don’t realise at such a moment that it could be an inadmissible question. You are nervous, excited and you certainly don’t want to lose any sympathy points that could reduce your chances of getting the job.
BUT, you want to be treated with respect and if you personally feel that this question was too much, too personal or too intimate, trust your gut and say so.
If you know straight away that it is an improper question, you have more options.
- Stay calm. Always remain kindness and decide for yourself whether you want to answer this question honest, or whether you want to answer but lie.
- Address the error. Do not be too shy to ask why these questions are relevant for the job position.
- Remain objective. May there be a reason the hiring manager asked you this specific question? Think about it for a second. It can also be that the hiring manager itself does not know about the question being illegal. So, maybe there was no malicious intent. But if there was no reason you should show them your boundaries. Although it can make you seem suspicious and can cost you some sympathy points. Do not feel obliged to answer this particular question. You can ask a counter question instead.
- End the interview by yourself. The interviewee won´t stop asking one inadmissible question after another? Maybe you should start facing facts – this is not your future workplace to be. If it’s already disrespectful in the interview, it won’t get any better in everyday work. And if you felt discriminated, you can consider a lawsuit too.
Be confident and show your limits. Maybe it can also help you to impress even more, if you then want to get the job at all.
Jochen Mai, Unzulässige Fragen im Vorstellungsgespräch: Das ist verboten! 27.07.2022
Tom Gerencer, Illegal Interview Questions an Employer Cannot Ask, 12.08.2022
Talent Sales Account Manager
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