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SHOW DATE: JUNE 12, 2013

So what religion are you? Are you gay? Who did you vote for in 2012? When do you plan on starting up a family? Do you have any health-related issues I should know about?

Chances are you won’t hear any of these questions during a job interview. Not only is it inappropriate to ask such questions—and pretty creepy—but it’s downright illegal.

Despite this, such questions still make their way into interviews. Usually it’s a genuine mistake—for example, you and your interviewer get chatty about how you grew up in a strict Mormon household, and he asks what religion you practice now, simply out of curiosity. Other times, the person interviewing you is inexperienced and doesn’t know what kind of questions are off the table. And once in a blue moon, you’re actually being interviewed by someone who knows better but doesn’t care, because they ain’t working with none of them kind of peoples. You know the ones.

Regardless of how and why the inappropriate question rears its ugly head, there’s only one way to answer it. You should never attempt to challenge the question or educate your interviewer—that will make you look combative and them look stupid, neither of which are going to bode well for your career prospects. Instead, you should say the following:

“That’s an interesting question, and I’d be happy to answer it.  But can you tell me how that relates to the job?”

With this response, you nip the question in the bud through mere curiosity. In other words, instead of seeming offended, annoyed, or cagey, you show that you are always thinking about the job and how to best do it—and that’s exactly what the best professionals do.

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