Over at Lifehacker, there’s a comprehensive breakdown of some of the most common illegal job-interview questions, and how to deal with them. Unfortunately, many a job seeker has run into inappropriate queries about age, arrest record, health, marital status, and much more.
While the law makes it illegal for a prospective employer to ask questions about, say, your disabilities or religion, some companies have gotten very good about reframing questions in ways that skirt around the edges of existing statutes.
The trick is to enter the interview prepared for as many contingencies as possible. You can deflect by asking a question in return (for example, if the interviewer probes into your ethnic background, you can ask why they’re asking those questions); you can restate your commitment to the potential job while declining to explicitly answer the original question; you can even tell the truth, if you feel the answer wouldn’t harm your job prospects.
If the interviewer keeps asking inappropriate questions, you can politely thank the person for his time and excuse yourself from the room. Alternatively, you can make the spontaneous decision to treat the experience as “practice,” and continue onwards simply to see which questions the interviewer asks, and how you react to them. But always remember there are boundaries to the information you’re required to give.