John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
It’s become water-cooler conversation. They can’t ask you that question when they interview you, can they?
Chances are the answer is no, they can’t. At least not in the way employers have been known to ask it. The list of “can’t ask” includes questions about race, birthplace, religion, age, sexual preference, marital and family status, or health. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to encounter one. How should you respond?
The fundamental principle at play is that questions have to be connected to the job, and your performance in it. So, when the interviewer hits you with a question that you think might be over the line, don’t let it throw you off balance. Take the initiative and deliver your response as though the question was asked properly to begin with. For example:
What does your family think about you taking a job that will mean they have to move? First, let me tell you that I am talking to you because I – and they – think this could be a great opportunity. They have always understood and supported my commitment at work. I can’t think of any reason why that would change.
What kind of babysitting arrangements do you have? I am prepared to work the hours required for this position and to handle travel as necessary.
How far will you have to commute? I’m confident that I’ll be able to arrive at work at the starting time. When is that, by the way?
Most of the time there’s no need to challenge the interviewer. Every once in awhile, though, you may feel that the question is simply way too personal. In those cases, ask calmly and politely, “Can you tell me how this relates to the position I’m here to talk about?”
Very few BV employers are trained interviewers. Give them the benefit of the doubt by keeping the conversation on the track through your responses.