The irony of putting on hold this question How should I handle questions about family/spouse on the job market? is that it limits my right to apply for any position without being the questioned why I choose such a distance, therefore limiting my right to look for a job and have a right to be employed.

The question is concise; it refers to a specific webinar intended for career development of US- and Canada-based academic staff. It talks about the special situation when the applicant or presenter is confronted with the silly question and it mentions the legality of a situation that actually happened.

I didn’t want to make this question only US-based, because I thought this is an international platform and that people from other countries can contribute answering.

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    "I didn't want to put question only US-based, bcs I thought this is international platform and that other countries can contribute answering." there are 100+ countries in the world. Surely a question with 100 possible answers is too broad for SE!
    – Andrew T.
    Jun 1, 2018 at 13:55
  • @AndrewT. why there is only US based ?
    – SSimon
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:25
  • @dawn made good comment with reference journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122417739294
    – SSimon
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:34
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    @SSimon Having read two questions and your comments, I'm still finding it very difficult to understand your English, as a native English speaker.
    – Jessica B
    Jun 1, 2018 at 18:04
  • I tried to edit the emphasis of the original question as outlined below. I didn’t actually remove any of the questions because I wanted the existing answers to still fit.
    – Dawn
    Jun 2, 2018 at 1:55
  • I’d like to see this question reopened. Can people take a look at it now?
    – Dawn
    Jun 3, 2018 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


First, I want to say that I think that the question posed about how to handle job interview questions about family is important, and is answerable within the framework of the site. I've expanded in more detail some of what I said in the comments. Also, I don't have close or reopen vote privileges, and I up voted the original question in any case.

I would say that the title doesn't quite match the body of the question. The question in the title "What is an illegal or/and inappropriate question in a job interview?" has infinitely many answers, and therefore doesn't fit very well in the Q&A format. However, what you're discussing in the body of the question is, in my opinion, focused enough for it to be answerable in the Q&A format.

The other aspect is that the legal question is very specific to location. If you ask "Is it illegal to ask about spouses in a job interview?" and you want answers for both the USA and the UK, these are basically different questions. The site discourages asking multiple questions in a single question. Aside from this, I think the legal question may not be best suited to this site. In my opinion, it might get better answers on workplace.stackexchange.com, although having said this, the Stack Exchange network in general shies away from legal advice. Still, I think this question is a valid to ask here and should not be closed provided it is asking about a single location.

Apart from the legal question, you also asked "How should I respond to these questions as an early stage career academic?". To me, this is the part of the question which this site is best equipped to answer. As you said, even if the question is illegal, you still need to handle it somehow if it's sprung upon you. It perhaps could have some geographical focus, but I think it doesn't need to have one to be a valid question.

In summary, to me, the legal question and the "how to handle this" questions are separate, and should be split off into separate questions. The "how to handle this" question is good, and is exactly the sort of question this site ought to be able to provoke good answers for.

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    I agree with this. That is in fact why I provided an answer and tried to focus on the what to do and avoid the legality issues. The comments by the OP on the questions and answers suggest they are looking for a big list of answers with each country being handled separately. That makes it too broad and likely off topic (labor law is an entire field).
    – StrongBad
    Jun 1, 2018 at 16:18
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    I also agree - it is an important question and something I often struggled with on the job market. I think @MJeffryes or I would be happy to edit your question to make it more answerable. Please let us know if you would like us to do so.
    – Dawn
    Jun 1, 2018 at 18:45
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    I think the comments to @StrongBad's good answer are exactly why this question is too broad. StrongBad attempted to give an overall view from a couple common contexts and give some guidance. The comments are then flooded with people saying "oh but in my jurisdiction _______" - that isn't a good format for SE.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jun 1, 2018 at 19:42
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    By the way I agree entirely with this meta answer about how to reframe the question in a more appropriate way for Academia.SE: namely, to abandon the "legal" question and focus on the "how to handle."
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jun 1, 2018 at 19:43

Your question title

What is an illegal or/and inappropriate question in a job interview?

is an open end question.

There are a lot of things that could be illegal or/and inappropriate to ask in a job interview depending on the local law and the local culture.

Legal and appropriate are two separate questions. Legal in one place does not necessarily imply the question is appropriate in another place.

These are the reasons I voted to close as "too broad" and "leave it closed" when I reviewed the Reopen queue.

However, in your question body

it is illegal to ask a candidate in a job interview about what would friends or/and family think about your job appointment with the institution.

sounds like an answerable question to me if you add a location to it.

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    Why is the open end? I ask about very specific situation in specific context.
    – SSimon
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:31
  • even if I was a man, questions about harassment and abuse of power shouldn't be closed
    – SSimon
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:42
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    questions about harassment and abuse of power shouldn't be closed – Yes, questions shouldn’t be closed because they are about these subjects. But questions about these subjects do not get special treatment. They can be closed like every other question if they do not meet our quality requirements.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 2, 2018 at 8:16

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