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10 Illegal Interview Questions You Don’t Have To Answer

10 Illegal Interview Questions You Don’t Have To Answer

The typical job interview is a stressful and challenging experience, especially if you are prone to anxiety or lack an innate sense of self-confidence. It is also particularly difficult for anyone who finds it difficult to think clearly under pressure, as the questions posed in job interviews often require carefully considered and well-articulated answers.

It is also crucial that you understand your rights as an interviewee, as there are a number of questions that potential employers are prohibited from asking under existing employment law directives. By understanding these directives and the boundaries that should exist between you and an employer, you can hopefully enjoy a less-stressful and more productive interview.

So without further ado, here are 10 interview questions that are illegal under existing employments laws: –

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1. How old are you?

Perhaps the most common illegal interview question, employers are often keen to determine your age as a candidate. Although this information may have been included on your resume (depending on whether you use a traditional or modern template), the person conducting your interview does not have the right to directly or indirectly ask your age during the process. In the US, the Age Discrimination Act (ADEA) is designed to protect anyone who is over 40 from such questioning, while individual state laws also exist to protect younger applicants. The law is applied universally in the UK, where employers can only reference age if it is to guarantee that you are old enough to carry out the required role.

Whether this question is asked outright or indirectly (such as by querying the year that you graduated from college), the response that you give is entirely at your discretion. If you feel comfortable answering the question you are entitled to do so, but if not you can query whether or not your age is relevant to the job role or your application before tendering a response.

2. Are you married?

There is a term in employment law called pregnancy discrimination, which has been created to prevent employers from treating mothers or female applicants unfairly. This prohibits employers from attempting to solicit any information concerning a candidate’s family plans, including marriage, engagement and child planning. While this is a long-standing pillar of employment law, the issue with this question is that it can be posed in casual conversation, so you must keep in mind that you are not obliged to disclose any personal information surrounding your lifestyle or family status. If you are asked this question, you can simply respond by telling your hiring manager that you are not comfortable discussing your private life in a professional environment.

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3. What is your sexual orientation?

On a similar note, fundamental discrimination laws prohibit employers from asking any questions relating to sexual orientation. This has no relevance on your suitability for any position of employment, and any hiring manager who quizzes you about your sexuality is committing a clear offence. Unlike the previous two questions (which can be answered at the candidate’s discretion despite being technically illegal), this query should be met with a far sterner and resolute response. More specifically, you should take the opportunity to remind the employer of your rights as a candidate for work and reinforce that your sexual preferences are unsuitable topics of conversation in the workplace.

4. Have you ever been arrested?

This question represents a grey area in employment law, as employers do have the right to ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime. They are not entitled to enquire about your arrest record, however, as you are considered by law to be innocent in any instances where you have been detained by the police but not convicted. Employers can conduct independent research into your background online, however, so you may find it beneficial to be honest and open about your past if you have been arrested prolifically in your youth. If not, you can simply answer this question by reaffirming the fact that you have never been convicted of any crime in a court of law.

5. Can we have your social media login details?

Back in 2012, there were a number of employers who were reported for asking interviewees to hand over their private, social media login details. Many refused, although others parted with their details in a bid to secure employment. This is completely prohibited, as while employers can conduct independent searches of your public social media profiles they have no right to ask you to hand over your private details. Employers are not even allowed for links to your profile page, and if you are asked you should politely refuse. This applies to all online and mobile social media profiles, including fast growing applications such as Snapchat.

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6. What country are you from?

For anyone with mixed parentage, dual nationality or an exotic accent, this question may seem to betray little more than mild curiosity on behalf of the employer. Regardless of the intentions behind it, however, this question is illegal on the basis that it involves your national origin. You are not required to reveal any information in response to this question, as it is your qualifications and experience rather than your background that determine your viability as a candidate. It is important to listen closely to the wording use by a hiring manager, however, as employers are entitled to quiz you on your eligibility to work in a specific country. If you are asked this directly, you will need to reaffirm your status as being eligible for work.

7. Do you like to drink socially?

This is a bizarre question, and it is difficult to understand what relevance it has in a professional setting. There is a reason why it is strictly prohibited for employers to ask this, however, and this is to protect recovering alcoholics under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (or the Disability Equality Act of 2010 in the UK). Under the terms of these laws, recovering alcoholics are not compelled to reveal any information that may hint at their status and the same principle applies to anyone who has suffered with substance abuse in their lives. This is why many companies conduct random alcohol and drug tests in the workplace, as they cannot directly ask employees or interviewees whether or not they take such substances.

8. What is your religion?

Along with questions relating to sexual orientation, this is one of the worst questions that an employer can ask during an interview. Although there is a clear motivation for employers to gather this information (as the look to anticipate any scheduling or holiday issues that relate to your faith), there is a correct way for them to go about achieving this and it does not involve asking you to discuss your religious orientation. Instead, employers can ask if there are any days or periods during which you are unavailable for work, as this relates to a specific schedule and the operating hours of the company in question. So although you will need to answer this question honestly, you can refuse to disclose your religious beliefs or outlook.

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9. How did you get that scar or physical abnormality?

This may not apply to everyone, but it is a deeply personal and insensitive question that has no merit in an interview or professional situation. The fact that this question is illegal also offers an insight into the depth of the ADA and similar acts, as they not only prohibit discrimination against individuals with a physical disability but they also protect those who are ‘regarded as disabled’ due to a scar or physical abnormality. Any questions about such physical characteristics are prohibited, and you are under no obligation to even acknowledge them. If this question is posed, you can simply underline that it is not an issue that you wish to discuss as it makes you feel uncomfortable.

10. How do you feel about supervising a team of women (or men)?

Both the US and the UK deploy stringent gender equality acts, which serve a clear purpose in the typical workplace. As a result of this, it is illegal for employers to ask you any direct questions that relate to gender or make assumptions based on perceived differences between male and female candidates. In this instance, this means that hiring managers cannot ask candidates how they feel about managing or working with a gender specific team, as this forces them to make comments that are either presumptuous or potentially offensive to either men or women. If you are asked this question it would be prudent to either ask the interviewer to rephrase it or simply relay any experience that you have managing teams in general (which managers are perfectly entitled to quiz you on).

Featured photo credit: Flickr – PresseBox.de flickr via flickr.com

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Published on August 4, 2020

36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

Most jobs require specialized skills. At the same time, there are a lot of resume skills that apply across the board.

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, give your resume a refresh. Employers want to know: Can you communicate effectively? Are you easy to get along with? Can you manage your time effectively?

Remember, you may not get a second look. Use your resume to make a great first impression.

Holistic ability is what employers want to see when hiring. These resume skills can make you a top pick regardless of what role you’re applying for.

Communication

Being properly understood is critical. On any team, you must be able to relay and interpret messages with speed and precision. How you describe yourself, the concision of your phrasings, and the layout of your resume are great ways to showcase these skills.

1. Writing

Whether it’s emails or official documents, writing skills are essential for candidates in any industry. Clear, concise phrasings minimize misunderstandings and save the recipient time. This is probably one of the most important resume skills.

2. Verbal Communication

Speaking clearly and eloquently is one of the first things a hiring manager will note in an interview. Communicating over the phone is commonplace in business. Outline this skill on your resume, and they’ll invite you in to listen for themselves. This is easily one of the most important resume skills in most industries.

3. Presentation

Sales pitches and company meetings may include presentations, which require special communication skills. Being able to spearhead and properly carry out a presentation shows organization and resolve.

4. Multilingualism

Knowing more than one language can open doors for you and the business you represent.[1] Being able to speak another language allows your company to serve a whole new demographic.

5. Reading Comprehension

At any job, employee handbooks, company newsletters, and emails will come your way. Being able to decipher them quickly and effectively is an important resume skill. This goes hand in hand with having excellent writing skills.

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Tech Savvy

Technology is evolving rapidly, especially in the business world. Be sure to mention the technologies you’re familiar with on your resume, even if you don’t expect to use them daily.

6. Social Media

Almost everyone has some form of social media these days. Companies use platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to reach new audiences, provide customer service, and build brand loyalty.

7. Operating Systems

Can you use a Mac? What about a PC? Most jobs today require the use of a computer. Prior experience navigating common operating systems will help you acclimate much more quickly. This has become an important resume skill ever since the start of the information age.

8. Microsoft Office

Of all the software in the world, Microsoft’s Office suite might be the most popular. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook are widely used in the business world. Having this as part of your resume skills is very helpful especially in certain industries.

9. Job-Specific Programs

Did you get the hang of HubSpot in your last role? Is Slack something you’ve mastered? Be sure to mention them on your list of resume skills. These demonstrate that you can pick up new tools quickly.

Interpersonal Skills

Despite the rise in technology, businesses are run by people. Working with and for people means you need to be able to handle yourself with poise in different social settings. Highlight roles and situations on your resume that involved tricky conversations.

10. Customer Service

No company can succeed without its customers. Being able to treat customers with respect and attention is an absolute must for any applicant. Specific industries regard this as the most important resume skill their prospective employees should have.

11. Active Listening

Listening is an underrated skill, especially for leaders.[2] If you can’t listen to other people, you’ll struggle to work as part of a team.

12. Sense of Humor

You might wonder why having a sense of humor is a part of your resume skills. Humor is important for building rapport, but getting it right in the workplace can be tough. Everyone loves someone who is entertaining and can lighten the mood. On the other hand, people are turned off by immaturity and inappropriate jokes.

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13. Conflict Resolution

A customer stomps up to your desk and starts yelling about a problem he or she is having – how do you handle this situation? The right approach is to work to resolve the situation, not to escalate or avoid it.

Teamwork

One of the best parts of any job is the bonds you build with your co-workers. Fostering healthy relationships can make the workspace more enjoyable for everyone.

14. Collaboration

Whatever your line of work, chances are good that you’ll be working with others. Being able to collaborate effectively with them is critical if the whole team is to hit its goals. You can use various apps and tools available to help you collaborate with your team.

15. Leadership

Even if the title of the job you’re applying to isn’t “manager” or “executive,” there will still be moments when it’s your turn to lead. Prove that you’re up to the challenge, and you’ll be looked at as a long-term asset. Listing this as one of your resume skills is certainly an eye-catcher for most.

16. Reliability

Work isn’t always easy or fun. You have to be willing to pull your weight, even when times are hard. Otherwise, your co-workers won’t feel as if they can count on you. Reliability is important in maintaining the cohesion of a team. You should let people know that they can rely on you.

17. Transparency

To work as a team, members must be willing to share information with each other. Are you willing to own up to your mistakes, share your challenges, and accept consequences like an adult? Let them know that you’re transparent and reliable.

Personal Traits

Your resume is about selling yourself, not just your education and work history. The good news is, your “soft” skills are a great opportunity to differentiate yourself. Use bullets beneath your past experiences to prove you have them.

18. Adaptability

In any role, you’ll need to adjust to new procedures, rules, and work environments. Remember, these are always subject to change. Being able to adapt ensures every transition goes smoothly.

19. Proactivity

An autonomous employee can get work done without being instructed every step of the way. Orientation is one thing; taking on challenges of your own accord is another. Being proactive is an essential resume skill, especially if you’re eyeing for managerial roles in the future.

20. Problem-Solving

When problems arise, can you come up with appropriate solutions? Being able to address your own problems makes your manager’s life easier and minimizes micro-management. Problem-solving is an important yet often overlooked resume skill.

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21. Creativity

Can you think outside of the box? Even roles that aren’t “creative,” strictly speaking, require creative thinking. Creativity also helps in your ability to solve problems.

22. Organization

Staying organized makes you more efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes. Organization skills make life easier not just for you, but also for other members of your team. This makes it an important skill to put in your list of resume skills.

23. Work Ethic

Every company wants hard workers on its team. You’re applying for employment after all, not a place to lounge around. Putting this on your list of resume skills is just as important as actually exhibiting it in the workplace once you’re hired.

24. Stress Management

How well do you work under stress? If you’ll be required to meet tight deadlines, you’ll have to prove you can handle the heat.

25. Attention Management

Whether you’re developing a partnership or writing a blog post, attention to detail makes all the difference. People who sweat the details do better work and tend to spot problems before they arise. Use Maura Thomas’s 4 Quadrants of Attention Management as a guide to managing attention.[3]

26. Time Management

Time is money. The better you are at using company time, the more valuable you’ll be. Show that you can make every second count. Managing your time also means being punctual. No employer wants to deal with a team member who’s constantly tardy. This is commonly included in most people’s resume skills, but not everyone lives up to it.

27. Patience

Things won’t always go your way. Can you calmly work through tough situations? If not, you’ll struggle with everything from sales to customer service to engineering.

28. Gratitude

When things do go your way, are you gracious? Simply being grateful can help you build real relationships.[4] This also helps foster a better team atmosphere.

29. Learning

Employers want to invest in people who are looking to grow. Whether you love to take online courses, read, or experiment with hobbies, make sure you show you’re willing to try new things.

30. Physical Capability

Many job postings have the classic line, “must be able to lift X amount of pounds” or “must be able to stand for X hours per day.” Play up past positions that required you to do physical labor.

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31. Research

How easily can you dig up new details about a concept? Research skills are critical for marketing, business analysis, writing, account management, and more.

32. Money Handling

Being able to count bills quickly and accurately is important at any company with a brick-and-mortar storefront. Integrity and honesty are key when you’re running the cash register or reconciling bank statements.

Commitment

To employers, every new hire represents an investment. Are you worth investing in? Prove it. Employers need to see signs of commitment before they bring you on board.

33. Longevity

Hiring managers love to see long tenures on your resume. This suggests that you’re in it for the long haul, not just passing through for a quick buck.

34. Fidelity

For an employer-employee relationship to work, there has to be trust. Employers tend to find out when someone is hiding side gig or sharing information they shouldn’t be. References from past employers can prove that you’re loyal to companies that hire you.

35. Obedience

You won’t agree with every choice your employer makes. With that said, you have to respect your role as an employee. Obedience is about doing what your leader decides is best, even if you have a different perspective.

36. Flexibility

Life is full of surprises. A month into your new job, your role could change entirely. Flexible people can roll with the punches.

Final Words

Perform a self-audit: Which of these skills will your potential employer want to see? Add them to your resume strategically, and you’ll be that much closer to your dream job.

Tips on How to Create a Great Resume

Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

Reference

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