“Why did you leave your last job?”, “What kind of relationship did you have with your boss?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – even these common interview questions put you in an uncomfortable position. But what if suddenly the recruiter, whom you see for the first time in your life, suddenly asks you about something too personal? Learn how to answer awkward questions in an interview!
No responsibility for demand
The Labor Code duplicates the guarantees enshrined in the constitution: it is forbidden to conclude an employment contract “depending on sex, race, skin color, nationality, language, origin, property, family, social and official status, age, place of residence (including the presence or absence of registration place of residence or stay), attitude to religion, beliefs, belonging or non-membership to public associations or any social groups, as well as other circumstances”
If we interpret this rule literally, then when applying for a job, it is inappropriate to ask about age, nationality, religion, marital status and sexual orientation, since the answer to these questions cannot become a basis for refusal.
However, there is no question of punishment for such questions in the law. It is extremely difficult to hold the employer accountable for them. “It is prohibited by law to place discriminatory restrictions on job postings. Personal matters do not really fall into this category, although they are discriminatory. It is bad both from the point of view of the law, and from the point of view of the violation of personal boundaries — the specialists in internal communications in one of the IT companies is sure. – But not only is the Federal Law itself written in such a way that it only applies to vacancies, but in our country no one even goes to court.
Why, for example, does it work in the same America? If you ask such a question to an American candidate at an interview – about children, about her husband – then the next day you will receive a lawsuit. In Russia, there is a category of professional “rights shakers” who sue state organizations and even win court cases, but the percentage of such people is negligible. I, as an employer, as an interviewer, know that if I ask this question, the likelihood that the person I ask this question will go to court is very small. I do not personally know a single person who went to court on this matter.”
If an employee has received a refusal to conclude an employment contract due to circumstances not related to his business qualities, such a refusal is subject to challenge in court. As a rule, the courts take the side of the applicant and recognize the employer’s refusal to conclude an employment contract as illegal, and upon request, they can recover moral damages from him.
What questions are considered personal?
More often, women suffer from uncomfortable questions: employers do not hesitate to ask about their personal lives and possible pregnancy. But men are not immune either. At the interview, the applicant may be asked:
- “Are you planning a baby?”
- “Why are you still not married / not married?”
- “How does your young man earn?”
- “What does your wife think of your career ambitions?”
- “Can you manage a team of men / influence women?”
Other tactless questions concern religious beliefs. From the position of the employer, it would be more correct to ask the candidate: “Are you ready to work on the proposed schedule?” – rather than specifying his religion or church affiliation directly.
Questions regarding sexual orientation, financial status, nationality, age, place of birth, appearance, and political views should also not be asked in an ideal world, as well as questions for applicants with disabilities, if they do not interfere with the work under discussion.
Also read : How to answer boat questions in interview?
Why do employers ask this?
If you are asked a personal question during an interview, there may be several reasons.
- The employer has faced a similar problem in the past. Once, a man got a job in the company and his wife, dissatisfied with his position, convinced him to quit after six months. Or an employee who has been looking for a year and who has been entrusted with a responsible task goes on maternity leave four months later. The employer in this case is simply trying to protect the interests of the business.
- The employer is not familiar with ethics. Sometimes a person does not understand that he asked about something personal, or considers such questions normal, because “everyone asks.” It is hoped that one day someone will explain to this recruiter or boss why it is unprofessional and unethical to ask such questions.
- You’ve landed a stressful job interview. Many consider this method of verification unacceptable. In addition, not all HR managers know how to conduct stress interviews so that the candidate does not feel really offended.
Often, people ask about personal life not out of idle curiosity, but in order to better understand what a person breathes, what interests, opportunities and limitations he has. This information will help to conclude whether the new employee will be comfortable with the team, and the team with him. For example, studies show that “family” employees are more stable.”
What to answer?
The answer largely depends on how interesting this work is. There are two extreme options: laugh it off and change the topic or immediately end the interview.
We propose to address the issue:
- Make sure you don’t get into a stressful interview. If the recruiter is behaving strangely and a boorish question is not the only deviation from the norms of business communication, you may be being tested for strength. This happens more often in positions that involve working in stressful conditions: managing a problematic team, communicating with difficult clients and with law enforcement agencies. In this case, it is important for the employer to see your reaction, it will tell a lot about how you will behave if you get a job.
- Ask the employer why they think the issue is important. Without aggression in your voice, gently and calmly ask why the employer needs to know about what he just asked. Perhaps there really is a reason – it is connected with the future duties of the employee or the mood of the team. Or the company has already had an unpleasant incident.
- Say it doesn’t affect your ability to do a good job. At this stage, the employer should guess that you think the question is incorrect. You can help him get out of an awkward situation and change the topic. Being polite but confident is the best strategy in an interview.
- If the employer does not understand your hint, say directly : “I feel uncomfortable when you ask me about this. This is a personal question that does not concern my professional qualities. I want to work for a company that believes in law and equality.” In Russian realities, this prepared wording may sound strange – or it seems to you that it may sound so. Nevertheless, it is up to you to decide what kind of relationship with the employer should be and where the boundaries of personal space lie. During the interview, these boundaries can be identified.
- If the question is completely unacceptable to you, end the interview. It’s not a fact that it will turn out to be a failure: what if the employer analyzes the mistakes and, taking into account your other advantages, considers you a highly moral person?
In any case, be polite and control yourself. And do not be afraid to answer honestly to yourself – are you on the road with an employer who asks such questions?