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Handling Illegal Questions - By Rochelle Kaplan

Various federal, state, and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask you, the job candidate. An employer's questions ￾whether on the job application, in the interview, or during the testing process ￾must be related to the job you're seeking. For the employer, the focus must be: "What do I need to know to decide whether this person can perform the functions of this job?'

If asked an illegal question, you have three options:

* You can answer the question ￾you're free to do so, if you wish. However, if you choose to answer an illegal question, remember that you are giving information that isn't related to the job; in fact, you might be giving the "wrong answer, which could harm your chances of getting the job.
* You can refuse to answer the question, which is well within your rights. Unfortunately, depending on how you phrase your refusal, you run the risk of appearing uncooperative or confrontational ￾hardly words an employer would use to describe the "ideal candidate.
* You can examine the question for its intent and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job. For example, the interviewer asks, "Are you a U.S. citizen? or "What country are you from? You've been asked an illegal question. You could respond, however, with "I am authorized to work in the United States. Similarly, let's say the interviewer asks, "Who is going to take care of your children when you have to travel for the job? You might answer, "I can meet the travel and work schedule that this job requires.'

On the following page are examples of some illegal questions and their legal counterparts.