Job-Winning Answers to Those Illegal Interview Questions

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photo credit: thinkpanama

OW MANY TIMES have you sat in a job interview, all jittery and foggy headed, when your interviewer pops one of the inevitable no-no's: how old are you? are you married? planning to have children? are you gay? thinking about it? opening the closet door as we speak? etc.

You are perfectly within your rights to tell this maroon that such questions are quite illegal, thanks very much, but you could get pegged as containing excess attitude, or as having failed the standard stress interview.

I want you to get that job, sweetheart! I want you to pass with flying colors! Below is a transcript of an interview with "Alison" and an actual Human Resources specialist we encouraged to sneak in various inappropriate questions. "Alison," a graduate of my interview techniques seminar, I Want You to Get That Job, Sweetheart!, provides just a sample of the irresistible repartee that wins my clients the Coveted Cubicle time after time.

"Hi, Alison, come on in and have a seat."


"So, I guess we can get started. Tell me something about yourself."

"Well, I have a B.A. in Theatre Arts, and I've been working at my present job for four-and-a-half years."

"Oh, Theatre Arts? When was that?"

"When was that?"

"Yes, when did you get your degree?"



"I graduated in 1937."

"Thirty seven?"


"You graduated in nineteen thirty-seven?"

"What? [laughs] Oh no, no, at least I hope not! My gosh, that would put me in my eighties or something, wouldn't it!"

"[laughs] No kidding! So when did you graduate again?"

"I graduated in nineteen thirty-seven."

"Well, there you've said it—oh well, let's move on. Tell me what you think you're good at in your present job."

"Well, I think I'm quite good at organizing, and also multitasking."

"Multitasking. Do you find that helps you in other aspects of your life, say with your children?"

"Oh, well I don't actually have any children at the moment."

"At the moment? Are you hoping for a family someday?"


"What? No, are you planning on having children one day?"

"Children?! I can't stand the little buggers."

"Pardon me? Did you say you can't stand the—that is, you don't like children?"

"Me? Oh, I love children, I just don't know when or if I'll have any of my own. Do you have kids?"

"Yes, I have two, a boy, 12, and a girl, 7."

"You poor thing."


"You are one lucky woman."

"Yes, well then. So, Alison, what would you consider to be one of your weaknesses?"

"Um, I think that would have to be my tendency to not want to ask for help."

"Is this a job-related weakness, or a personal-life weakness, would you say?"

"Probably a little of both."

"So, say if your husband or boyfriend wanted to help . . ."

"My husband or boyfriend?"

"Yes. Are you married or dating at the moment, Alison?"

"Well, you might want to check with my lesbian partner."

"Your—you are dating a woman, then?"

"What?! What did you say??"

"I thought I heard you say something about a lesbian partner . . ."

"'Lesbian partner'? Excuse me, but is this one of those stress interviews? I mean, so far you've called me an old woman, a lesbian, and a child hater. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this kind of interview anymore. Are we going to have a normal interview soon?"

"Well, I certainly—"

"I mean, I'm perfectly willing to take on stress in my job, if that's what you're looking for."

"Well, I'm sure you are, Alison, I just—"

"So, if you'd like to discuss your compensation package, I'd be willing to do that, that is if you're done with this part of the interview."

"Yes, let's do that! I've asked enough questions for now, let's discuss our benefits structure."

Note how skillfully Alison managed to steer her first interview to a discussion of benefits. Is that a job offer I hear?

This free sample of my award-winning interview secrets was excerpted from my chapter entitled Gaslighting Your Path Through the Interview in my new book, I Want You to Get That Job, Sweetheart! You'll find many more valuable techniques for landing your new job, so check bookstores in June!