Pre-employment questions can cover a number of areas of your career and personal life. It’s important to distinguish between legitimate questions and those that might be illegal and hurtful to your chances of getting the job. This is especially true if you have disabilities. You want to make sure that you are not discriminated against, so pay close attention to the questions and only answer the ones that are legal and give you the best shot at the job.
Now that you know what is permissible and what is discriminatory, consider how you might prepare for a situation in which the illegal questions come up. Your action depends on what makes you feel comfortable. There are three paths you can take for this type of questioning.
1.) You could forfeit your rights and answer the question, in the hopes that it will deepen your connection with the employer rather than incite bias. There might be times when you discover that your interviewer goes to the same church or has family from a country similar to yours. You might not hesitate to disclose this information about yourself in these cases.
2.) Alternatively, you could discreetly refuse to answer the question. For example, you might avoid answering the question directly but address the concern. If asked whether you plan to have children, you might reply: “I try to balance my work and my personal life. I can assure you that I will be focused and committed to my responsibilities here, and my personal life will not interfere with my performance.” If you elect not to answer the question but you wish to secure the position, take steps to put the interviewer at ease.
3.) You might, after hearing some of the questions, have no desire to work for a company that probes into areas of your personal life. If you decide on the spot that you do not want the job, you can go so far as to excuse yourself from the interview and even file a complaint or lawsuit. If you decide to pursue formal recourse, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Their website is www.eeoc.gov, or you can call them at: 1-800-669-4000.