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Recently, my friend attended an interview with a local software company. He was asked about his relationship status and some other personal questions. He wasn't comfortable answering such questions.

Is it right to ask such questions in the interview? How should the candidate handle such situations, where he is asked questions that are personal in nature or those he doesn't want to answer?

marked as duplicate by Vietnhi Phuvan, The Wandering Dev Manager, JakeGould, enderland Dec 26 '16 at 14:05

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    In what country did this take place? Different countries have different laws on things like this. – A E Dec 25 '16 at 19:33
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    India ,I don't know if there's a law for this case.Moreover i'm not looking for legal advice just a way to surpass the question. – Black Mamba Dec 25 '16 at 19:40
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    @VietnhiPhuvan in the United States, it is not illegal to ask any of those question. It is just not a very good idea. – emory Dec 25 '16 at 22:17
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    Some people seem to be fixated on specific examples rather than looking at the general issue. Edited your question to amuse such people, let me know if I changed the question way beyond your intention. – Masked Man Dec 26 '16 at 1:03
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    @VietnhiPhuvan: In the USA it's not illegal to ask per se. It's illegal to use the answer in a hiring decision. Therefore it's pointless to ask if you don't intend to do something illegal, and if you don't hire the candidate, it allows the candidate to sue you for discrimination even if you didn't base your decision on that answer. – gnasher729 Dec 26 '16 at 10:01
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Unless it is against the local law to ask such questions, the interviewer can ask whatever he wants. There is no "right" or "wrong" about it.

It is upto the candidate whether he wants to answer the question or not, and how he chooses to evaluate the company based on the interview questions asked.

If the candidate doesn't want to answer the question, all he needs to do is decline politely.

I am sorry, I don't feel comfortable answering that question. I would prefer not to answer it.

(or something equivalent)

Note that an interview is a two-way street. As a candidate, I wouldn't rate a company too highly if in order to evaluate me for a Software Architect role, they need to know about my spouse's hobbies or my kid's name.

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How should the candidate handle such situations, where he is asked questions that are personal in nature or those he doesn't want to answer?

If you are asked questions that you don't want to answer for any reason, simply decline politely.

Something like "I'm sorry, I don't feel comfortable answering that question." would suffice.

Of course, declining to answer an interview question isn't usually perceived as a good thing by the interviewer. And it could cause a rejection.

Still, if you feel strongly that you don't want to answer any question - don't.

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Have you considered being vague?

With the specific question, of "What is your marital status?" I'd probably answer something like "Good, thank you."

Its vague, sounds like an answer, is plausible, and doesn't come across like a harsh rejection or stone-walling.

There is no "Right Answer" to this question. And you're coming across as someone who can communicate.

Other possible answers might include:

  • "Its complicated, but these things generally are"

  • "Flat-out... there's a lot going on in my life and its time for a new job opportunity."

  • "It's quiet... too quiet...."

Or even turn it around with a follow-on like "and yourself?...."
Yes - this is slightly tongue-in-cheek but remember an interview is a two-way process where ideally you learn about the company as they learn about you and your potential fit. So developing a rapport with the interviewer helps.

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    This kind of passive aggressive response causes more damage than polite refusal, or even a confrontational response. – Masked Man Dec 26 '16 at 13:30
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    @MaskedMan you've never been interviewed by someone of the sales persuasion. I have, and it was totally different to a techncial person interviewing. Both of which were different to a HR-type running the interview. My point here is, you have to follow the lead of the person, and to me an outright refusal comes across badly. So here's a different option. – Criggie Dec 26 '16 at 21:47
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Asking such personal questions is nothing but a pressure test,That how can you you deal with your personal life and social life.It is a test where you are tested for your balance making skills between personal life and work life.

  • Now for resolution: Interviewer just want to know that how much your work is impacted by personal stuff.
  • And one thing off-course is you can avoid this question by simply saying I cant answer this as this is nothing to do with the work i will do for your company,And i assure you my personal life will not hamper my work life.
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    My personal life is none of the employers f***ing business. I don't know where you come from, but if anyone in HR asks this question where I live, they would be considered grossly incompetent because of possible ramifications. And if someone outside HR asks it, they will be told. – gnasher729 Dec 26 '16 at 10:07
  • I wish I could have deleted your abusive language but.... Consider opening your own firm and hire someone .. to understand it.and I don't know whether you have given any defence services interview but asking such questions never demands a answer but a attitude with which candidate answers.. I don't know whether you got it or not.. – Mayank Gaur Jan 30 '17 at 19:10

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