woman covering her mouth in shockJob interviews are supposed to be about an employer and a candidate getting to know whether each make a good fit with one another. But sometimes hiring managers may use tricky methods in order to winnow the herd. Many of these controversial methods are used to get information about applicants that would be otherwise illegal to directly ask. But no matter how shocking some of these underhanded schemes may be, the following examples (gathered through interviews by the folks at Learnvest.com) give great lessons on how to prepare for an interview and how to act once you’ve begun.

Some jobs are just not fit for people with families. And since it is illegal to ask about children, one hiring manager decided to lay some bait so that applicants may bring the topic up themselves. She set out a picture of her niece and nephew on her desk in order to entice applicants to mention their own children. But once it was revealed that a candidate was a parent, that person was struck from the applicant pool. The lesson here is to try to avoid small talk or at least control what you say. While you are probably nervous and may use small talk as a coping mechanism, try to steer conversations towards mundane topics, such as the weather, instead of your personal life.

Next up is wedding rings. For entry-level positions in particular, the sight of a wedding ring can be a turnoff for potential employers. Since most applicants are right out of college, a wedding ring frequently signals that a candidate will be starting a family soon. One hiring manager stated that because laws regarding maternity and paternity leave would prevent firing that employee for missing weeks of work, he would pass on a newlywed candidate to save on future costs and shortfalls brought on by an extended absence. This issue is easy to avoid—simply leave your wedding ring at home or put it in your pocket and avoid sharing information about your relationship status.

One attribute that you cannot (nor should) hide from a hiring manager is your age. Many hiring managers admitted that the primary reason for their own brand of ageism is the lack of technology training in older candidates. One hiring manager was quoted as saying, “Older people have a harder time adapting to newer technologies, and I’d rather not spend the time training them.” This being the case, bringing up that fact that you are working on gaining, or already possess, sought after technology skills will inform the interview that you won’t have issues adapting to the work environment.

Finally, take some steps to protect your previous salaries since many times they can be held against you. Especially in an evolving job marketplace where you frequently have to look beyond your current company to progress your career, don’t let your salary follow you. A clever way to avoid revealing this number, despite the attempts by employers to retrieve it, is to claim to having signed a non-disclosure agreement with your prior or current employer that does not allow you to share the information. Not only can a hiring manager not push any further for the information, one hiring manager admitted that he also respected a candidate for making this claim since it showed integrity in respecting a previous employer.


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