How to tackle inappropriate interview questions

By December 6, 2022Current
How to tackle inappropriate interview questions

TL;DR – Don’t turn a deaf ear to the inappropriate questions asked in a job interview. It’s important for us to be aware of discriminatory hiring processes and report them so that others won’t have to suffer the same fate.

You could get caught off-guard when inappropriate questions are hurled your way. It’s normal to feel obligated to answer their questions directly because of our eagerness to impress the employer in hopes of landing the job.

Even though you are applying for the role, it doesn’t mean that you are obliged to give them an answer. The trick is to skillfully answer their questions while maintaining your composure. Here are some questions and how you can prepare for them.

1. Given that you have recently tied the knot, are you planning to have children?

Some employers view maternity leave as a serious drain on company productivity and resources. But you don’t have to reveal your plans. The best way is to give them a diplomatic answer while bringing focus to your capabilities and professionalism

What if I am pregnant? Do I need to declare?

Most women in their first trimester keep their pregnancy to themselves at least until the first 12 weeks are over. So, you are not obligated to share about your pregnancy during the interview.

However, it is advisable to declare your pregnancy once you have the job offer. Your employer will appreciate your transparency.  This way, they can plan your role and make arrangements in advance for when you are away on maternity leave.

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2. How many children do you have? And are you living with your parents?

This question is asked with the intent to phish out your lifestyle and family obligations. Such questions could reflect the employers’ reservations against flexible work arrangements and lack of trust between hiring managers and their employees.

If the conversation is leading towards flexible work arrangements, it is wise not to state your preference or request for it in the early hiring process. It is safer to assume that you will be working in a normal five-day work week schedule.

You may respond by sharing with them how you cope working from home during circuit breaker and your work ethics. Being honest by sharing how your responsibilities at home has contributed greatly to your achievements and outlook on life could leave a positive impression.

3. How old are you?

Employers may lean on common workplace stereotypes like “younger workers are inexperienced” and “older workers are resistant to change” if they know your age. Most companies may prefer to hire younger workers to keep a vibrant image, and they are also cheaper to recruit compared to an experienced mature worker.

As long as you are older than the legal age to work, you are not obliged to reveal your age during the interview. Counter this by sharing the invaluable work experiences and achievements you have accomplished this will bring their attention to your suitability for the role.

Know your rights

Companies with discriminatory hiring processes may be subject to additional scrutiny by the Ministry of Manpower. In serious cases, their work pass privileges for hiring foreign workers may be curtailed.

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According to TAFEP guidelines, employers should only ask questions that are relevant to accessing the applicant’s skills, experience and ability to perform. Employers should not make recruitment decisions based on age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.

If you feel strong discrimination from an employer during your interview, you may report them on TAFEP’s website. Click here to for more information.

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Nicole Lim

Author Nicole Lim

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