How to respond to the 7 worst interview questions


As we enter a new decade, many people will be looking for fresh opportunities to challenge themselves. If launching a new career is one of your new year’s resolutions, it is important to know the types of questions companies can and cannot ask during a job interview.

Many people are unaware of these interview faux-pas and might place themselves at a great disadvantage, as a result.

Below are seven questions that a hiring manager should not ask you during a job interview, and how you can respond to them. (for information on how to prepare for a job interview, check out this great article.)

quote board of interviewing for a job is a two-way conversation

1. How much money do you currently make?

Hiring managers ask this question to set a baseline for the salary they should offer you in the event you are hired. If you divulge your current salary, and it’s too low, it might be difficult to counteroffer successfully.

If this question comes up during your interview, you can respond with the following: “I prefer to discuss salary during the offer process and instead focus on how how I can add value to your organization. I do want to hear about…” and shift the conversation to another topic.

2. When did you graduate from college?

This is a tricky one. Depending on your age, it can work to your advantage or be a disadvantage. If you are millennial, for example, I don’t think it’s wrong to provide your graduation year. Someone can discern that from your resume anyway.

However, this question can be considered age discriminatory. You can respond by asking if that information is a part of the job requirement.

3. How old are you?

If a manager does not know not to ask this question, then you are interviewing at the entirely wrong company. This has all the red flags of incompetence.

4. Are you married?

None of your business! Well, don’t say that, but that’s what I would be thinking anyway. Again, major red flag if a company does not know not to ask this question.

A polite question regarding the question’s relevance to the job requirement will suffice here as well.

5. Do you have a car?

Depending on the job, you might need to have a reliable form of transportation, but that’s how the question should be phrased—not, do you have a car?

You can choose to chuck this question up as interviewer inexperience and go ahead and answer it by stating that you have a reliable form of transportation to work and can perform the job requirements reliably.   

6. Do you have children?

I don’t mind if you volunteer this information over the course of the interview, while engaging in small talk, but it should never be a formal question during the interview. Inexperienced managers who want to know if you can commit to a certain schedule might ask this, though, so beware.

I would shoot back and ask if that is part of the job requirements. The interviewer should get the point that this question is not an appropriate one to ask.

7. Are you disabled?

You might be shaking your head in disbelief, but I have seen managers ask this question, which happens to be illegal. There might be cases, though, where an employer need to know if you can perform a job safely. So they might ask you to share any limitations that might prevent you from performing a task. That is fair game under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

However, a direct question asking if you have a disability is inappropriate. Again, asking for clarification relative to how that fits with the job description should suffice.

What to keep in mind

Remember that interviewing for a job is a two-way conversation. As much as the company is assessing your fit for their organization, you are also assessing how their culture fits with your values.

Use the interview process therefore as an opportunity to learn about the organization and understand how they treat their employees and customers.

While these seven interview blunders might seem minor, they can be the red flag that help you determine whether or not the company is a good fit for you. 

Led by the book


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