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What to Say In Response to an Inappropriate Job Interview Question

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What should you do if you find yourself face-to-face with a job interviewer who asks an offensive, biased, or even illegal question? Know your rights before going into the interview. You don’t have to answer illegal questions, such as whether you’re married, plan to have kids, your age, or your ethnicity. Prepare a general response in advance that you can use to graciously deflect. For example, you can say, “I’d rather talk about…” and return the conversation to your relevant qualifications. Or if you’d prefer to be more firm, you might say, “I’m not sure how that question is related to this role” or “I’m pretty certain that it’s illegal to ask that question.” Try to maintain your composure in the moment. Pause and take a deep breath to calm yourself before answering. Strengthen your body language. Sit up straight, sustain eye contact, and keep your feet firmly planted on the floor to take up more space. Finally, consider how the interviewer’s behaviour impacts your interest in the role. Does it seem specific to the person or representative of the organisational culture? You might decide that a workplace that tolerates this kind of employee isn’t one you want to join.

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