Tips How To Answer Sexist Questions During The Interview


In 2017, a woman can still be asked a wide range of sexist questions during the job interview. Moreover, as stated by, women are asked inappropriate questions three times more often than men. Such questions include queries about their appearance, love life, family plans or even flirting.

Inappropriate sexist questions can embarrass any woman who had expected to be evaluated solely for her professional qualities and accomplishments. So, how to handle this sort of questions – if male interviewer asks them? Should you answer them or it’s better to report this issue to the upper management after the interview is finished? If your resume brought your foot to the door, let’s have a look at verbal tactics you can use during your next interview.

Frequently asked sexist questions

The questions below are the examples of the expression of sexism during the interview:

  1. As a woman, would you feel comfortable leading a team of men?
  2. Are you married or intend to get married in the near future?
  3. What does your husband/boyfriend do for a living?
  4. Will you follow your husband if he is offered a job in another state?
  5. Are you pregnant?
  6. Do you have children or are you going to?
  7. How do you feel about dating your boss?
  8. Would you mind flirting or dating the customers if it’s necessary to close the deal?
  9. Why does a beautiful woman like you want to get a job of a Python developer?
  10. What is more important to you, your career progression or marriage with children?

When you asked one of the above, remember that you are not obliged to respond. Sexist questions violate the Federal and state laws as the potential employer is actually trying to discriminate you. However, some of the recruiters ask the questions like these because of their ignorance. In any case, if you still would like to join the company, check the below tactics to handle inappropriate questions.

How to respond to sexist questions

  • Stick to business topics
    If you want to avoid the issues of sexism, don’t be the first to start non-business subjects. Don’t speak about – even don’t mention – your family, your private life, etc. The employer might think that since you were the one who brought up the subject, it would be okay to find out more.
    Of course, this is not a guarantee that you won’t be asked inappropriate questions. However, the chances of being discriminated decrease as you focus on discussing work-related issues.
  • Keep it on a positive note
    If the question you are asked is not heavily sexist (for example, ‘Can you lead the all-men team?’) the best idea is to come up with a neutral or positive response. The example question is relevant to your prospective job responsibilities; thus, you can use it to reiterate your professional strengths. If you persuade the interviewer that you possess the leadership abilities, strong communication skills and/or previous relevant experience, you’ll get their question answered and probably no sexist questions will follow.
  • Ask why their question is relevant
    If you are asked a personal question like ‘Do you plan to get married?’ recommends not to get angry straightaway. First, ask “Why is this information important?”
    As a rule, the majority of questions relevant to your personal life are asked with a view of evaluating your potential to contribute in the long run. Nevertheless, the company representative should give you a clear reason for asking private questions. If they are reluctant to do so, take it as a warning sign.
  • Stand up for yourself if necessary
    If the recruiter keeps asking sexist questions, it’s time to get more firm and confident. Wonder if they ask the same questions to the male applicants they interview. Or, admit that their questions make you feel uncomfortable and ask whether this is the standard procedure for an interview for this position.
    Remember that you don’t have to ask the questions which are heavily sexist. Chances are that your confident approach will make the interviewer change their mind and the interview will continue on a professional note.
  • Highlight your professional attributes
    Another way to respond to sexist questions is to answer “I wouldn’t answer this question. However, I don’t think this will influence my ability to do the job well.” If the person interviewing you keeps insisting, you can also specify that you believe in equality at the workplace and wonder if they know that this kind of questions is prohibited by a Federal law.
  • Don’t get emotional
    Even if you are a feminist who believes that the sole fact of asking sexist question is offensive; remember that giving an overly emotional response won’t take you anywhere. It might happen that asking sexist questions might be a test to find out how you tackle an inappropriate questions (for example, in interview for a customer service position). So, whatever you are asked, the key is to be polite yet firm.
  • Evaluate the company’s corporate culture
    If you are asked sexist questions during the interview and they don’t sound like a test, it’s time to think whether such a company is a good fit for you. The fact is, if the person interviewing you believes that it’s normal to ask the questions like ‘Why does such a beautiful lady apply as a hardware engineer?’ the company policy probably doesn’t see nothing wrong in the issues of sexism. In this case, it’s better to update your resume and look for a job elsewhere.
  • Follow the interview etiquette
    Sure, dressing up in accordance with a dress code, maintaining a good etiquette and other elements of a professional conduct can’t guarantee that the recruiter will be asking only job-related questions.  However, they do guarantee that your candidacy will be taken more seriously than someone who failed to maintain it during the interview.

Unfortunately, the sexist questions during the job interviews aren’t a rare situation. However, you can handle these situations with dignity and confidence and try to keep the conversation professional with no personal matters discussed. Also, don’t forget that you don’t have to answer sexist questions of any kind and if the person’s behavior is totally inappropriate, you can report the sexual harassment.

For your inspiration: 5 famous women who handled an invasive question during the interview with brilliance

Many young women are asked intrusive, a bit misogynistic or even extremely sexist questions in the job interviews. They face double standards and are asked questions about their kids, body image, appearance and relationships all the time. However, even female celebrities are asked questions that men don’t face, for example, about their sex life, breast implants, makeup, how they lose weight, and more.

Let’s take a look at five examples of how women celebrities gave a perfect response to inappropriate questions from reporters.

  • At the Grammys in 2015, a reporter asked Taylor Swift if she was going to walk home with a man that night. The singer responded that she was going to “hang out with her friends and then go home to the cats”.
  • A reporter asked Scarlett Johannsson about the type of underwear she wore during the acting process in Black Widow. She shut them down stating that “you are the fifth person who is asking me this” and then continued with more comments like “I’ll leave it up to your imagination”.
  • During the interview for the Spider Man film, Emma Stone noted that her movie partner was asked more “interesting, poignant questions” because he was a boy, and added a comment “It’s sexism”.
  • Anne Hathaway, a start of The Dark Knight Rises, a male reporter was trying to asked her a question about her fitness regime for a role – the same question that most women on the red carpet are asked. At one point, she fought him back, asking him the same question about fitness, implying that it’s not only women’s bodies that should be discussed.
  • The interviewer asked a pop star Ariana Grande about if she would go without the cell phone or wearing a makeup. She stroke back: “Is this men assuming that’s girls would have to choose between?”

As you see, even the top celebrities that attend Hollywood Film Awards cannot completely avoid questions about private life and sexuality. Nicki Minaj, Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Garner, Blake Lively, Rihanna and many others had to respond to sexist comments instead of meaningful questions.

If you’ve faced this double standard during the job interview, and hear the questions about your everyday life, gender, or family status, remember that you aren’t supposed to answer them honestly. If the interviewer completely refused to talk about your professional qualities, it’s time to question their work ethic, or even fill a claim.

Have you been offered a job? Don’t hurry up to take this offer. First, ask the eleven questions to determine whether this organization is the right fit for your personality and career goals.

Not sure if your resume is good enough? Use the free resume critique service to hear the opinion of a resume professional on the effectiveness of your resume.

Have you ever been asked the sexist questions during the interview? How did you respond to them?

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