Sample this: 'You are married for 3 years now, any plans for the future?" This subtle yet intrusive question hits female employees more than ever. Interviews are not fun when you are asked questions which are directed towards your family planning, relationship status or social life. About 40% of female employees are asked questions about family planning, 35% are asked about marital or relationship status, and 30% are asked about childcare. In a Survey by JobBuzz, a whopping 90% surveyed said that they were asked inappropriate or awkward questions in job interviews. Men, on the other hand, face questions on their lifestyle (35%), religious, social and personal preferences (30%), and marital and relationship status (25%).
Women face more inappropriate questions
80% female and 60% male respondents admit to having faced inconvenient questions during interviews. In addition, 40% of junior level employees, 65% middle level employees and 55% senior level employees, have had to deal with inappropriate questions in their interviews.
Shockingly, 20% of employees stated that they have been asked inappropriate questions in all their interviews. Nearly 40% of them said that more than 10% of the job interviews they have been through, till date, had inappropriate questions. About 25% employees said they have faced such questions in 5-10% of their interviews, and 15% employees said nearly 5% of their job interviews were plagued by such questions.
For female employees, the most common awkward questions were:
- Related to family planning - 40%
- Related to marital/relationship status - 35%
- Related to childcare - 30%
- Related to age/weight/size - 20%
- Related to religious/social and other personal preferences - 15%
- Related to lifestyle habits (drinking, smoking, etc.) - 10%
- Related appearance preferences (tattoo, piercing, etc.) - 5%
For male employees, the most common awkward questions were:
- Related to lifestyle habits (drinking, smoking, etc.) - 35%
- Related to religious/social and other personal preferences - 30%
- Related to marital/relationship status - 25%
- Related appearance preferences (tattoo, piercing, etc.) - 20%
- Related to age/weight/size - 15%
- Related to family planning - 10%
- Related to childcare - 5%
Diplomatic answers are the usual response
Nearly 40% employees said that they respond diplomatically to inappropriate or awkward interview questions. About 30% employees said they prefer to politely refuse to respond to such questions, 20% said they respond with honesty and 10% said they had walked-out during such instances.
A gender-wise analysis shows that the majority of both male (40%) and female (35%) employees choose to respond with diplomacy to such questions. Nearly 25% males respond with honesty while 30% female employees politely refuse to answer such questions.
“Companies do ask questions related to personal inclinations and habits because they too want to gauge the person coming on board. However, it is absolutely incorrect to ask things like when are you planning to have kids, is marriage on your mind etc. Such questions reflect the mindset or culture of the employers. The HR folks should keep in mind that when they are assessing prospective employees, at the same time candidates are also trying to get a hang of the company they could be working in near future. Unnecessary questions create a bad impression.” says Pallavi Jha, Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Training India
Most people walk into a job interview expecting questions such as “tell me about yourself”, or “what are your strengths and weaknesses”, or “why do you think we should hire you”. And they burn the midnight oil to prepare how best to respond to such questions, but the truth is job interviews are at most times crazy and awkward, to say the least.
Ramathreya Krishnamurthi, Business Head, TimesJobs says, “An interviewer may ask awkward questions for two reasons, either out of inexperience, or to catch you off guard. While this practice is not acceptable it is unfortunately quite common. While interviewees have the full right to refuse to answer any such questions, it may also provide an opportunity to showcase their personality and attitude. With a keen mind, an inappropriate question can sometimes be re-worded appropriately by the job seekers into a more professional context.”
“For instance, interviewees can respond to questions regarding their plans for marriage and children by reassuring the interviewer of their ability to keep their personal and professional life separate, their focus on the job and commitment to the organization. However, that being said, sometimes it is necessary to take a tough stand and reassess whether you would want to work in a company that projects this kind of culture,” adds Ramathreya.
Jha further suggests, “For candidates, it helps to be honest but a little diplomatic and polite when answering awkward questions. Also, it helps to have a feel of the general company policies. For example, when asked if you are planning another child any time soon, you can politely say - ‘not anytime soon’. If asked - do you drink/smoke, one can politely say I just indulge very occasionally and just in my limits.”