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7 Illegal Questions You Might Be Asked During an Interview

7 Illegal Questions You Might Be Asked During an Interview

During a job interview, you might feel as if your prospective employer is in the driver’s seat, and you must go wherever he or she leads you. However, this is simply not true. There are many laws in place to protect applicants from facing undue discrimination and to ensure each candidate for a job is viewed as objectively as possible. If you find yourself in a situation in which you feel you’ll be unfairly judged, there are many ways in which you can “flip the script” and drive the interview in a direction you’re more comfortable with.

1. How old are you?

This might seem fairly innocuous to job seekers in their 30s, but there are many hidden agendas behind a question of an applicant’s age. Employers can ask if an applicant is over 18 if it is company policy to not hire minors, but that’s about all they can ask as far as age is concerned. According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, it’s illegal to inquire about an applicant’s age, since those over 40 are specifically protected by the law. Such a question is clearly attempts to discern how long a person may stay with a company, and whether or not he or she will be able to perform the job’s duties 10 or 20 years down the line. There is no need to answer this question; instead, refocus your answer on your years of experience.

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2. Are you married?

Again, this question might just seem like small talk, but the answer can give away more information than you think. If, for example, you just got married in the past year, the interviewer might decide you won’t be dedicated enough to the job, as you will just be starting a family, might have to take maternity/paternity leave, etc. Also, your answer might reveal your sexuality, which is, of course, protected by the US Department of Labor. It’s best to avoid going into your personal life, about which you do not have to volunteer any information. However, any info you choose to give might be used to disqualify you from employment.

3. What country are you from?

While it might seem like a good time to discuss your worldliness, discussing your national origin may lead to a subjective judgement by your interviewer. Of course, you must be lawfully able to work in the United States, and must possess documentation expressing this. However, you are under no obligation to divulge what part of the world you were born in. Along with this, you cannot be made to discuss other languages spoken at home, unless it is to your advantage. If you are comfortable discussing these aspects of your personal life, repurpose your answer to show that your bilingualism is an advantage to the workplace.

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4. What religion do you follow?

This goes along with the aforementioned Civil Rights act. Though obviously there is a chance that the interviewer might be biased toward a certain religion, there are other implications to how you answer this question as well. Employers might be fishing for information regarding your availability to work on weekends or holidays. Of course, they can just ask about your availability, but many interviewers don’t wish to be so candid. Again, repurpose your answer to express your availability, and inform them that the company will know far in advance if you will be taking a holiday.

5. Do you drink socially?

This question might come up in interviews for jobs regarding public safety, but you are under no obligation to answer. In fact, the ADA protects alcoholics as long as the disability does not interfere with their duties. And, as alcohol is a legal entity in the US, prospective employers have no right to know what you do on your time off. If this question comes up, simply answer no. As a word of advice, I wouldn’t drink at job-related events or parties in the future, regardless of how you answered the question.

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6. Do you or have you used drugs?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, am I right? Just kidding, of course. This question might seem cut and dry, but it’s actually up to interpretation. Do you drink coffee or soda? Caffeine’s a drug. How about Motrin? What about if you’re a medical marijuana patient? There are many facets to this question, so in order for interviewers to be in the right, they must ask: “Are you currently using any illegal drugs?” Asking in such a manner specifies that it is not a past habit, and that an affirmative answer is confirmation that you partake in illegal activities. Employers also have a right to drug test prospective employees, as well as ask about past convictions regarding drug possession. And while we’re on the subject…

7. Have you ever been arrested?

Interviewers can’t ask this question, because an answer of “yes, but I wasn’t convicted” won’t exactly put you in a positive light. Some states do allow this question, but employers cannot discriminate based on the answer given. However, they can ask “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and ask for details, and they can run background checks on applicants. If you have been convicted of a crime, and you know a background check is imminent but may not disqualify you from employment, the best thing to do is be upfront about it. Express regret about the circumstances, and demonstrate that you’ve learned from your mistake and have grown as a responsible adult.

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For more information regarding the legal issues surrounding employment, visit the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Featured photo credit: 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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