3 Ways to Answer Inappropriate Interview Questions

If interviews don’t fill you with enough dread already… you must be vigilant when looking out for inappropriate interview questions. Knowing how to answer them is a step in the right direction.

Rather than furrowing your brow in confusion, or raising a quizzical eyebrow. This blog should help you answer some inappropriate interview questions should they ever arise.

*fingers crossed they don’t*

What to do when you’re asked an inappropriate question

It’s tricky to outright refuse to answer any question, so sometimes a level of tact is a necessity. It’s always a good idea to remain calm and composed when faced with inappropriate questions.

As much as you’re there to see whether you’re a good fit for the company. You’re also there to consider whether the company is a right fit for you! The types of questions asked will reveal quite a bit about the company culture. Pay attention to how the question is asked and how the interviewer conducts themselves.

You have three choices when faced with inappropriate question:

1. Answer the question

It sounds simple. But if you feel comfortable, you can answer the question. Keep your answers short and sweet.

Psst…Click here for DigitalGrad’s interview advice.

2. Refuse to answer the question

Of course, you don’t have to answer the question. You can politely refuse. Interviewers will often back off.  

This isn’t the most comfortable option, so be prepared for some tension. This is no fault of yours!

3. Answer the intent of the question

What I mean here, is being tactful in how you choose to answer. Potentially you could ask a clarifying question or offer a response that targets the root of the question without revealing too much personal information. Alternatively, you could ask the interviewer to demonstrate how it relates to the position you’re applying for.

As a rule…

As a rule, any question which focus on any of the below, are strictly off limits:

  • Age
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation

Below are just a few examples of inappropriate questions:

  • Do you drink alcohol?

Why is it inappropriate? Ultimately, a question like this is irrelevant. Whether the answer is yes or no, it should have no impact on your ability to complete tasks. During an interview, your personal life should stay just that: personal.

  • Can you tone down your accent?

Why is it inappropriate? As mentioned previously, any question which infers about race or national identity constitutes an illegal question. Be confident and speak slowly, employers are not allowed to be prejudice against you because of your accent.

  • Are you thinking of getting married soon because married women are likely to quit sooner rather than later?

Why is it inappropriate? Unfortunately, this sort of question does pop up in its varying forms. Marital status is again something which you do not have to disclose and questions about family are really a no-no.


If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

If an interviewer doesn’t make you feel comfortable and asks prying questions that you don’t want to answer, remain calm. Find ways to segue the conversation back to something you’re more comfortable with.

Often an interviewer might not realize that their question is inappropriate, so answer what you feel comfortable with. Ultimately, if the interview doesn’t go well, then maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

In a nutshell…

  • Don’t feel bullied into answering any questions you don’t feel comfortable with.
  • Protect your personal boundaries with professionalism and confidence.
  • It is equally as much what you think of the company, as it is what they think of you.

Need some interview advice? Click here to sign up with DigitalGrads to access all our fully-funded training programs for graduates just like you!

Looking for more interview advice? Explore our Remote Work and Interview Training program!

About post author

As a recent graduate from the University of Reading. I am currently working with DigitalGrads as their content and marketing intern.
Posted in Tools for Your Job Search