How to Answer Illegal Interview Questions

There may be a number of times within an interview where you feel that the potential employer or interviewer is getting a little too personal with their questions. Never assume that an interviewer is asking a question simply because it benefits them, sometimes they’re just feeling chatty and would like to get to know the real you rather than the perfectly robotic 9-5 that you will inevitably pretend to be. However, just because the interviewer has good intentions, doesn’t mean that you should have to answer all of their quirky questions.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is where you are treated less favourably than another individual on the grounds of sex, religion, race, age and so on. Discrimination comes in many different forms, each of them being illegal. The main categories covered by the discrimination act include: Age, Children, Citizenship, Criminal Record, Disability, Marital Status, Race, Relatives, Sex and Union Affiliation.

Examples of discrimination and how to deal with them:

Due to the nature of these particular questions, they can be quite difficult to answer appropriately. It’s due to the distress that these questions cause that we’ve provided you with some examples of illegal interview questions and how you could go about answering them:

1) How old are you?

Whilst this question may appear innocent at first glance, it is actually illegal to ask the age of a candidate until after they have either been employed or their application has been declined. On the other hand, your interviewer could have worded their question poorly and what they really want to know is whether you are of an age in which you are legal to work within the UK.

If you are happy to disclose your age, feel free to do so but there is no requirement to answer this question. If you choose not to, look to add a little humour to the conversation to avoid offending your interviewer and direct the conversation back to your skills and experience.

RELATED: How to Get a Job Past the Age of 50

2) Are you married?

If you are asked this question do not act defensive as the reaction that you give could potentially cost you the job. Instead of clamming up and choking on the question think about what it is that the interviewer could be asking – do you have any commitments besides the job? If you have priorities aside from the role that you are applying for politely inform them of your availability without relinquishing your marital status or interests.

3) Do you have any disabilities?

This can be a very difficult question to answer as it is illegal for an employer to ask directly about disabilities or to reject a job application due to a physical or mental disability. If you are asked this question you must think to yourself whether or not you have a disability that might affect the way that you carry out the job role.

If you feel that you can carry out the role without hindrance you should answer by saying:

I can competently perform the duties required of me by the position I have applied for.

By introducing a measure of subtlety you can discourage the individual from asking related questions. However, if you would consider yourself disabled and in need of assistance within the job role you should answer by letting the interviewer know the exact type of assistance that you would require to perform your duties. If you feel uncomfortable talking about this topic you should remember that you do not have to go into detail when explaining your disabilities to the interviewer; only reveal as much information as you are comfortable with.

4) Which religion do you practise?

Religion can be in incredibly sensitive subject as you may have a different religion to your potential employer, due to this you should attempt to answer politely without answering the question that has been asked.

If your potential employer enquires about your religion they may actually want to know whether you’re available at specific times of the year and whether or not you can adhere to their work schedule. You can answer this question politely without actually answering by saying that your faith will not interfere with your work – this is a polite way of avoiding the topic.

5) Where do you live?

Although an employer will find out where you live once you have been employed by them, it is illegal for them to ask this question within the interview. If you are asked where you live and do not wish to disclose the information you can state whether or not relocating would be an issue for you if the company you to move.

An alternative to stating whether or not you would be happy to move would be to give an extremely vague answer such as “My commute isn’t very long” or “I don’t live too far away”.

If you believe that the interviewer is asking personal questions on a frequent basis and you are unhappy with the way in which the interview is progressing you should discuss the issue with the individual that is interviewing you. Failing this, you can request for another member of staff to be present throughout the interview.

Author: Alastair Dawson currently works at, a company dedicated to providing the public with expert legal advice and guidance.

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