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Here's how to gracefully side step a question.
Did you know that by law employers can't ask you certain questions during a job interview? All questions must be directly related to your ability to perform the job you're seeking. Employers can't ask about religion, national origin, age, marital or family status, or disability. For example, these questions are inappropriate-if not illegal:
Religion: What church do you attend? What religious holidays do you observe?
National origin/citizenship: Are you a U.S. citizen?
Age: What year did you graduate from high school?
Marital status/family: Are you pregnant?
Medical status/disability: How many days were you absent from work last year? Have you ever been hospitalized? Have you been treated for alcohol or drug abuse?
But what if someone does ask you an unacceptable question? You can respond in one of three ways:
1. You can answer the question, but the information you provide may prevent you from getting the job.
2. You can refuse to answer the question. Even though you're within your rights, a flat refusal to answer a question may not be the most tactful response.
3. You can probe for the employer's reason for asking the question and respond with an appropriate answer. For example, if he asks you, "Who'll care for your child when you're on call at the hospital?" You might reply, "I'll be able to meet the on call and schedule requirements of this job." Or you could say, "I'd like to help you learn more about my qualifications for this position, but I'm unclear how questions about my [name the particular issue: age, religion] relate to my ability to perform this job."
Keep calm and stay professional at all times. You'll impress the interviewer with your ability to gracefully handle the questions. You shouldn't be asked inappropriate questions, but knowing how to handle them will make you more prepared on your next interview.
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