INTERVIEWS / MAR. 28, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Answer: “Are You Married?”

This is a remarkably common question asked in interviews. The reason that it is remarkable is that it is actually illegal for the interviewer to ask this question. So given the fact that it is an illegal and quite personal question, how exactly do you respond to a potential new employer. This guide will provide you with the correct way to deal with such a question.

Motive

First of all it is important to figure out what the motive is behind the question. After all, it is quite possible that the interviewer mistakenly asked the question while merely trying to be friendly and actually help you to relax.

 It is also possible that the interviewer is attracted to you and is attempting to see what obstacles they may face. This is an extremely inappropriate and unprofessional way for an interviewer to act and should not be tolerated.

The other possibility and probably most sinister is that the interviewer may be trying to get information about how committed a potential employee will be to the job. Many employees view newly married or married women in general as a bad investment, as they are likely to take maternity leave. Most employers usually prefer single people as their lack of commitments enables them to work longer hours and travel more.

Your Response

So how exactly do you handle such a question should it arise? Well once you have determined the motive it is easier to know how to respond. After all, you don’t want to hurt your chances of getting the job.

  • If you feel that it is merely a friendly question, then it is acceptable to give an answer as to whether or not you are married. There should be no repercussions as long as you give them an honest and polite answer.
  • If the interviewer is making sexual advances towards you, alarm bells should start ringing and it is best to notify the recruitment agency of your concerns. In the meantime however, brush off the question with a generic response such as: “Don’t worry, my personal life is kept very separate from my work so it would never affect my performance on the job.”
  • If the interviewer asks the question as a standard interview question, it may be that the interviewer does not realise it is an inappropriate question so you can remind them that they are actually asking an illegal question. Try something similar to this: “Are you aware that asking some questions during job interviews is actually illegal.” Remember to keep a positive attitude and merely point it out to them. If they are probing for information they will get the hint and back off. They might even feel that you are doing them a favour by preventing them from asking dangerous questions.

The key to this question really is to figure out the motive and stay positive. Once you know why they are asking the question, you will know how to respond. And if an interviewer makes you feel really uncomfortable then you can leave the interview. Would you really want to work for a company if you feel that uncomfortable at the interview anyway?

 

Good luck!

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