While the APs research was not broken down by gender, the EEOC explains that questions about marriage often hurt womens chances of getting a job. “Questions about marital status and number and ages of children are frequently used to discriminate against women,” states their website. “Generally, employers should not use non job-related questions involving marital status.”
Thirty-five percent of respondents were asked about their marital status but the question seems to be much less common among younger job applicants. Roughly half of Americans over the age of 60 say theyve faced this question compared to less than a third of those under 60.
Be sure to check out CNBCs “The Job Interview,” which follows real employers as they conduct real interviews and the unexpected challenges that ensue.
One illegal question, however, does seems to be fading away: “Are you married?” Willie B. Thomas | Getty s
The Associated Press and CNBC conducted a poll of 1,054 Americans and found that a significant percentage report having been asked illegal questions. Sixty-five percent of respondents had interviewed for a job in the past 10 years and 33 percent had interviewed for a job 10 years ago or more (a remaining 2 percent reported never having interviewed for a job.)Debrocke/ClassicStock | Getty s
Of course, it’s always your prerogative to answer these questions. If you feel comfortable disclosing personal information, such as your marital status or the fact you have children, you can certainly do so. Remember, people can ask these questions, but they can’t make the basis for a hiring decision on this information.
In other cases, an interviewer may be trying to ascertain your willingness to travel for work or how a spouse or children might impact your availability to work late or entertain clients. Even more personal questions about your age, citizenship or English language skills could be used to illegally disqualify you as a candidate. Regardless of the interviewer’s intent in asking the question, revealing certain information could inadvertently bias your interviewer against you.
Remember, at the end of the day, how you answer an illegal interview question is up to you. Consider the intent behind the question, your rapport with the interviewer, and whether you feel comfortable disclosing certain personal details. You never have to answer a personal question directly. At any time you can always say, “I’d prefer to keep this conversation focused on my professional skills, rather than my personal life. Could you clarify how this is relevant to the job in question?”
Over drinks with a new acquaintance, these questions may seem like completely harmless small talk. But in the context of a job interview, they can take an entirely new meaning. These are unethical interview questions. That’s because your answers to these questions could bias your interviewer against you, even if that’s not his or her intention.
This question is very similar to the one about marital status. As a reminder, hiring decisions cannot be based on personal information such as your marriage status or whether or not you have children. However, a hiring decision can be based off your willingness to work certain hours, relocate, or travel for the job.
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