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Illegal questions and what to worry about

Understand that legal and illegal are political, and often arbitrary, categorizations; use and abuse are medical, or clinical distinctions. (Abbie Hoffman in Steal This Urine Test)

Shirley Temple was asked about the “casting couch” mentality in Hollywood. She said it only came up once. She was talking with a mogul about a part she wanted to play in his movie. He stood up, dropped his pants and told her what she had to do to get the part. She laughed at him. At the time it happened, what he did was probably not illegal. Now it is definitely illegal. It was never right or moral. (I remember her talking about it, but can’t come up with a source now.)

The point is that you need to decide whether you care about a particular question. For instance: It is only illegal to discriminate based on age if you are over 40. That’s the law. Do you care? I can discriminate against you based on age, race, sex, religion, country of origin, accent and the fact that you are a Vietnam vet if my company is small enough or slips through other cracks in the laws. Questions you think are illegal may be perfectly okay by law for a specific situation. BOQ means Bonafide Occupational Qualification, and it is the biggest hole in the law.

What is more important than what is legal?

What is more important is that you know the questions you find slimy and objectionable. What questions do you want to avoid answering? What questions will make you so upset you stand up and leave in the middle of the interview?

Remember, you can always do a Shirley Temple and laugh at the question. You may be surprised at how it takes a burden off of both you and your interviewer. If the interviewer is offended that you laughed instead of slapping him, walk out. You are not going to starve because you fail a job interview.

Next time I will go a little deeper into handling bad questions.

Something to do today

Try the other side of this issue. List 3 questions you WOULD answer that some people find offensive. If you think about it you can probably find them.

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Later: No BS interviews work

How to quit

The old boy network

Exploit the old boys

The money question

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