You have done your homework, you have rehearsed a thousand times or more the most frequently asked questions. The interview day arrives. You feel the combination of excitement and a bundle of nerves. You are dressed for success and feeling confident as you embark on what could be the start of your new career. The interview is going well answering all the questions like a seasoned professional until "what did you just ask me? That is an illegal interview question!" You can literally see your dream career with this company fade away in the distance. How you respond is now up to you.
While you are sitting in the "hot seat" you must make some quick decisions on how to answer this illegal question from the interviewer. If you answer truthfully will this enhance your chance of getting you the position? Is it in your benefit to answer the said question? Questions like "do you have any children?" When applying to work around children it may be in your best interest to answer if in fact you do have children. "What's your native language?" is another question which is clearly illegal. However, if they are looking for bilingual skills, this could be advantageous if the language they are looking for is your native language. Quickly accessing whether an illegal question is to your advantage can determine how you want to approach answering.
You must ask yourself quickly if the interviewer is blatantly asking several illegal questions. "Do you really want to work for this company now?" This may be hard to figure out in a couple of minutes. Is this person a reflection of the entire company? A polite way to answer any question which is known to be an illegal interview question would be " I politely decline not to answer that question." It is important to remain calm, keep your composure and be professional. No job is worth taking if you are compromising you integrity.
Remember to advise your students to submit their term papers to the society for consideration for the Student Essay contest.
Catherine Olson, Student Essay Winner