How to tackle inappropriate questions during Interview?


“So, are you married?”

Says your interviewer. You seem confused on what is the relevance of this question for the job you are applying for.  And you ask yourself, should this question be answered or not, and what you should do.

There are few questions which are termed is illegal or inappropriate questions. You should be tactful while answering these questions and meanwhile keep evaluating the company.

The kind of questions asked by the interviewer, reflects the company culture and environment if you pay attention to them closely. You must be careful while listening to them as it is equally important for you also to make sure you are applying to a right company in the same why, company evaluates your candidature for the role.

How would you know if the question is inappropriate or not?

A simple way of analyzing it is to understand whether the question has anything to do with the work, the daily duties you are supposed to perform or the performance is expected from you by that job role.

The questions related to race, nationality, family, gender, religions are considered inappropriate. The key to tackling questions is to understand the question that crosses the line and staying calm while responding.

A good interviewer knows his boundaries but sometimes few inappropriate questions come up while discussion. You may choose to answer that or not to but ensure that you are dealing with such questions calmly and not aggressively.

Few of those inappropriate questions can be like this.

Relationship Status:

While facing a campus interview at my college, I was asked: “what is your relationship status”. I was confused on how to answer that and how it is going to affect my work and performance. I was more inclined to get a solution for it without reacting, as a wrong approach would have cost me the job.

I simply asked him back “I am sorry, but why would you want to know that”. This was enough to handle the situation that time.


Avinash an Architect in a IT Services company was asked once in an interview. “Our existing team comprised of young people who are ready to stretch extra hours. What is your age?”

This question or any question similar to this will make them understand the kind of work you have done before.  You can leave the age factor apart and answer on the kind of work you have done in past, how you have handled the challenges and work pressure or a strict deadline.


“You have a kid to take care of, would you need a flexible timing”? or “are you planning to have children in near future”?

You can handle the question by answering how you are going to manage your work and how having a child or planning to have a child is not going to hamper your work.  You should check on the Flexi – working hour’s policy of the company before appearing for the interview instead of quoting it at this early stage of the hiring process.

Religion & Politics

Religion is a topic that should be avoided tactfully during the interview. You can answer calmly that it is nowhere going to have an impact on your work or performance otherwise you would not have applied for the role.

Ashish a programmer by profession was once asked “which political party do you support? He responded, “I am sorry but politics is not my cup of tea”. Well, this is not the only answer you should be giving in the interview but you must stay diplomatic while answering to it.

Ancestry Questions

A direct question related to your ancestry is inappropriate to ask. Like, an interviewer can ask you “do you have a work permit to work in US?” or “can you work in south India?”. But, he cannot ask you questions like “Is Tamil your native language?”.or “ Do your parents belong to Bihar?”. You can brush off the question saying “I am sure this is not going to hamper my work performance”.

Financial Status

The interviewer cannot ask you about your financial status, Loans, expenses or your credit rating. You can pass on these questions by politely mentioning “I believe this is not having a correlation with my job”.


Questions related to gender is inappropriate unless and until it has a direct correlation with your jobs like the role of a Female Warden, or a male attendant at the male restroom.  If there is no such correlation, you can always pass on the question politely mentioning your gender would have no impact on your performance or completion of your duties.

Kind of TV shows do you watch

An answer to this question can give your interviewer a hint of whether you have any religious or political inclination. You can stay diplomatic by mentioning “I like watching comedy shows, cooking shows or news channels etc and not give any controversial details.

There are many ways to answer inappropriate questions during your interview but it is really important to keep the process move smoothly and stay professional all the time.  You can keep on defusing the inappropriate questions smoothly by simply brushing it off or adding humor to it.

If the interviewer continues to press you to answer any question you think inappropriate, you can always ask them back “I am sorry, but could you please make me understand how is it related to the job being offered to me?”. While answering you must also keep in mind that people have a different opinion on which question is sensitive or offensive, so don’t let it spoil the interview until you feel limits are getting crossed.