By Ruoro Kairu
What church do you go to?
Do you plan on getting children?
The last place you’d expect to be asked such questions is at a professional interview.
However, these are just some of the questions Angela was asked during her last interview.
“I was shocked, I didn’t expect to be asked such personal questions.” explains Angela. “I mean, since when did the church I go to determine how effective I would be working as an IT professional?” she asks.
Angela was voicing her dismay during an interview coaching and preparation session.
She had been to three interviews in one month. She had received regret emails from all three interviews. During the last interview, she felt confident she would get the job.
“I matched all the qualifications; I walked in knowing the job was mine. Then two minutes into the interview, the hiring manager started asking these personal questions.” comments Angela.
When the interview coach asked her how she responded to the questions, she answered, “I did not know what to say, so I kept quiet. The hiring manager asked the questions again, but I still kept quiet. After a few minutes, he thanked me for coming and told me they would communicate feedback within a week.”
As expected, Angela did not get the job.
When I asked her why she consulted an interview coach, she said “I knew being silent was not the best way to approach this question, so I wanted advice on how to navigate such questions. I also wanted the interview coach to help me prepare for future interviews.”
Have you ever been to an interview where you were asked inappropriate or personal questions?
What should you do?
How do you navigate these questions?
Before we look at how to navigate these questions, let’s first look at some of the inappropriate questions an employer should not ask you during an interview.
Are you married?
Are you planning on having children?
What tribe are you from?
Do you have a boyfriend?
Whom did you vote for?
Why shouldn’t an employer ask you these questions?
If you look at the above questions, you’ll notice have little to no indication of how suitable you would be to performing a task or excelling at a position.
If this is the case, why do employers ask these questions?
In most instances, when an employer asks these questions, they are trying to box you in a category. Later on, they will use this information to judge you, which could lock you out on a position.
In rare cases, you could be selected for a position because of the information you shared. However, if you don’t meet the qualifications, you’ll most likely not perform at the position.
How should you navigate questions that are intrusive or too personal?
I spoke with a recruiter, and here are two approaches you can use to navigate such questions.
1. Decline to answer the question
“I’m sorry but this question doesn’t affect my commitment to the position…”
This shows the employer your main focus is how well you can perform at the job you’re being interviewed for and the direct skills and competencies needed.
2. Redirect the question
“I don’t feel comfortable sharing that personal information, but I’m happy to discuss more other relevant experiences.”
Again, with this approach, you show the employer your focus is on the job and the issues pertaining to the job.
In both cases, try to remain respectful and professional.
If the employer insists on asking these questions, you can try and understand what they hope to achieve with the questions.
Finally, employers should not use personal questions to judge how well you would perform in a position. Instead, they should judge you on your experience, qualifications, and skills.
If you feel the employer is being too personal or intrusive during the interview, you can opt to end the interview and walk away.
You don’t want to be working for someone who has no professionalism or someone who’ll judge you on your looks or the church you go to.
Would you like personalized and effective help for the next time you’re attending an interview? Follow this link to learn more on the interview coaching and preparation service.
What questions were you asked during an interview that you felt were inappropriate? Let’s talk.