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4 Questions You Should Never Answer on a Job Interview

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Recently, Hannah Keyser of Mental Floss compiled a list of eight interview questions that are illegal for potential employers to ask. Most of these questions are motivated by a desire “to know if you’re likely to leave to start a family or retire in the near future,” she notes.

However, as a rule of thumb, “asking anything intended to get information about a person's status in a protected class—age, race, religion, pregnancy, etc.—is technically illegal.”

This doesn’t mean employers won’t try to ask these questions. Here are the first four you should never answer in a job interview, as found in the work of Peter K. Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers.

1. Are you married?

According to Keyser, “Anything that fishes for information about a candidate's family plans (marriage, engagement, and child planning) is technically illegal because it falls under pregnancy discrimination.”

It should be noted that employers probably won’t ask this question outright. Instead, they’ll make conversation, casually discussing their lives and yours, as if they’re just chatting before the actual interview starts.

It’s a good idea then to assume that everything said with an employer or hiring manager is part of the job interview.

2. How old are you?

If you’re over 40, it’s illegal for an employer to not hire you on the basis of age, Keyser writes. “If anyone asks, don't feel bad about declining to respond. Recognize that whoever is interviewing you probably already has some sense of your age just from looking at your resume, and use the opportunity to emphasize all those years of experience.”

3. When did you graduate?

Guess what this question is designed to do. Yep! It’s “a not-so-sly way to calculate someone’s age.”

Studner advises: “If the interviewer presses for a reply, you might give him the date and then ask how that applies to your candidacy. And in the final analysis, would you really want to work for a company where the management discriminates against age? It might be better to move on.”

4. How’s your health?

The only time this question isn’t illegal is when the job requires extreme physical exertion. “But,” Keyser writes, “anything that isn’t directly related to tasks you’ll be performing on the job is personal information that you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—reveal.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, have you ever been asked the above questions on a job interview? How did you handle the situation?

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