A few weeks ago I went to an interview for a role at a large real estate company. They were looking for a writer who also had a solid real estate background to handle some marketing projects. That is me to a T.
However, instead of focusing on my professional experience—or even showing a modicum of interest in the work samples I brought—the recruiter peppered the conversation with an array of unexpected questions: What did my husband do for a living? Did I get insurance from his company?
My plans for childcare were a particular concern of hers. I had mentioned that I’d been at home with my son that summer, and she asked if I was ready to work in an office again and what my plans were for my son after school.
In the days that followed, I realized that a lot of her questions were not only unprofessional, they seemed rather illegal to me.
While I’m pretty quick on my feet, I also realized I didn’t know how to respond when a career recruiter started getting too personal. So, in an aim to help anyone else who’s ever been thrown an interview curveball, I decided to call in an expert.
Amy E. Feldman is general counsel at The Judge Group, Inc., a staffing services company, and the co-author of the colorfully titled, “So Sue Me, Jackass!: Avoiding Legal Pitfalls That Can Come Back to Bite You at Work, at Home, and at Play.” She said that even though the spectrum of inappropriate questions is pretty wide, there is no list of specific questions that are illegal—there are only protected classes such as age, race, color, religion, gender, handicap, national origin and sometimes sexual orientation.