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Do I Have to Answer That Question??

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FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…ZERO!

Okay, I promise the next job interview you go to will most definitely NOT be like that! But we all know job interviews are nerve racking and the best way to minimize those nervous symptoms of sweaty palms, dry mouth, and of course, the worst of all – going blank, is to prepare as much as possible. Part of the preparation includes going over possible interview questions the interviewers may ask you, writing out responses, not memorizing them, but practicing, and if possible, even doing a mock interview. It’s also important to keep in mind that knowing what questions should not be asked in an interview is just important as knowing what questions may be asked. At times job seekers aren’t aware of the fact that there are inappropriate and illegal questions. Therefore it is important to know what these types of questions are and how to respond to these questions in a manner that wouldn’t hinder your chances of getting the job.

What are the illegal questions? According to the Ministry of Attorney General’s document on Human Rights in BC, “The general rule is: [Employers must] ask only what is needed to make a hiring selection on the basis of merit.” Therefore questions may not be asked about: national origin, age, marital/family status, affiliations, personal weight/height, disabilities, arrest record, sex, race, or religion. (For a full list of sample illegal questions, visit: Career Link.)

This being said, as an example, an employer may not be able to ask, “How much do you weigh?” However, they may be able to ask, “Are you able to lift 30kg and carry it 100 metres?” The second question is directly related to whether or not the interviewee would be able to carry out the functions of the job, therefore it is acceptable.

What do you do if you’re asked an illegal question in an interview?
a) Run away
b) Blank stare
c) Pull out your cell phone and consult your lawyer
d) None of the above

Okay, seriously, if you’re asked an illegal question, there’s a couple things you could do. If you’re comfortable answering the question, you’re of course able to do so. Keep in mind if you do, you’re providing information that isn’t relevant to the job requirements and there may be a chance that you give the ‘wrong’ answer, thus limiting your chances of getting the job. As another alternative, you could ask the interviewer how the question relates to the requirements of the job. This would most likely result in the interviewer re-phrasing the question and clearing up any miscommunication.

Always keep in mind that the questions asked of you should relate to your skill and ability to complete the requirements of the position. And they are not only interviewing you, but you are interviewing them as well! If they are asking you inappropriate questions, then perhaps this isn’t a company you’d like to work for. So get a feel for the work environment, ask yourself if their values align with yours and think about how you’d feel as part of their team!

Goodnight, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

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