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There are some questions you should NEVER be asked in an interview setting.

10 Questions You Should Never Be Asked in a Job Interview

I got a call from a recruiter the other day. His offer wasn’t very exciting, but I told him to keep in touch. It would’ve been a forgettable call… except that he then asked a series of really unusual questions.

“Can I ask a few more questions to complete your file?” he said.

“Sure.”

“You’re a U.S. citizen, right?”

I answered immediately, automatically. But as the “yep” escaped my mouth, a little warning light started flashing in the back of my brain.

“And your date of birth?”

I paused. There are some questions you should never be asked in an interview setting. Your nationality is one. Your age is another. He’d asked two of these questions in a row. What’s going on here?

I decided to give my birthdate, partially because I’m the exceedingly neutral age of 32, and partially because the truth is the easiest answer to give when caught off-guard. But then his last question was… 

“Do you feel comfortable giving me the last four digits of your social security number?”

WOAH. What what whaaaat?! I don’t know the dude from a hole in the ground! My birthdate and my social?! What’s he gonna want next—my credit card number? A copy of my house keys?? Shit no!

I thanked him for his time and asked him not to contact me again.

I knew the job offer was legit; I’d had other recruiters contact me about it as well. But the high number of sensitive questions betrayed a basic lack of training and discretion. It was just too many red flags.

Even though I know a lot of this stuff cold, I still wasn’t prepared for how to handle them when they came up in the moment. But you will do better than me! Today I’ll share with you ten bad questions to watch out for. We want you to be ready to identify and avoid sketchy workplaces. Luckily, many seem willing to make their sketchiness known before they even hire you!

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How NOT to Determine Your Salary

Last week I was chatting with a rad young lady who is about to start her final semester of college. When the subject of careers and negotiation came up, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. (“Teaching young people how to negotiate their salaries” is what I write down on the religion line on surveys.)

I asked what salary range she was asking for, and she quickly answered: “$37,000.”

It struck me as an unusual number for two reasons:

  • First, it seemed mighty low. Many people live happy, stable lives on as much or less—but she was a high-achieving college student entering a STEM field in one of the ten most expensive American cities. I expected double or triple that amount.
  • Second, what’s with the non-round number? Usually when people talk about hypothetical large numbers, they do so in intervals of fives and tens. It’s why the JonBenét ransom note haunts us all to this day! (And by “us” I mean rubberneckers who were alive in the 90s and/or true crime nerds. Surely everyone belongs in one of those demographics.)

So I dug deeper. “Why that number?”

She explained that she sat down with a notebook and wrote down all the expenses she might have in a given month. “Rent, internet, groceries, student loans, car insurance… I added it all up, multiplied by twelve, and added 10% for savings. It came out to $36,200, so I rounded up just to be safe.”

My nurturing altruism joined forces with my baser capitalist instincts to manifest a camera to do a dolly zoom on my horrified face.

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Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them with the Confidence of a Mediocre White Dude

Ah, the ubiquitous job interview. A necessary if painful step toward acquiring a job—any job! Just as nobody actually loves Rod Stewart as a musician or liver and onions as an entrée, nobody actually loves interviewing for jobs. Literally nobody.

And yet being good at job interviews is an invaluable skill. Especially if you’d like to become employed at some point in your life. And barring any hyper-intelligent dolphins or useless heirs to a corporate empire reading this article, that’s all of you.

We’ve already talked about what to do when you get asked about your salary during a job interview (a question that is as unethical as it is manipulative). But how about some of those other common, annoying interview questions? The ones you can count on getting, and that you dread like a combination root canal and pap smear?

I scoured the Internet for literally dozens of minutes to find brilliant answers to some of those awful job interview questions. And what I found filled me with hope!

I’m going to break down some of the most annoying and tricky job interview questions and how to answer them with at least the confidence and poise of the mediocre white man more likely to be hired than you.

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