Jamie from California wrote in and said: “Thanks Brian for the show, I’ve been learning a lot and love all the career women you spotlight like myself, very inspirational.”
My Question: “I was recently on several interviews and they kept asking my age. I know this is something they can’t ask but how can I respond in a way as to not anger them?”
Great question Jamie! That’s correct an employer can not specifically ask you your age or use your age as a discriminating factor in evaluating you as a candidate. However, there are some positions where age is a factor, such as an Airline Pilot, or a specific government agencies; age in rare cases in these rather unique positions is a factor. But for most of us, an employer cannot ask someone’s age, is not allowed. This is why on job applications there is a box which asks if you are of legal age, or above the age of 18, and if hired you can provide proof of age. That’s it.
One other rather interesting fact about age discrimination in the job application and interview process is, you as a job candidate are not required to disclose your graduation dates from any schools, colleges, or universities. An employer cannot use your graduation date alone in their decision to hire you or not. If you have the skills and qualifications for the position, but your degree was, say from 20 years ago, an employer cannot use your graduation date as a means to disqualify you as a candidate. This is seen as a form of age discrimination and is not allowed under US labor law. Now if you are offered a position, you will be required at that time to present proof of your diploma, degree, or certification which will show your date of graduation. It is only at the early stages of being evaluated that you do not have to disclose those dates.
As to your question, and great question as to, How to not anger or create any issues with a potential employer asking you specifically your age during the interview process
Simply and kindly say, that you are of legal age to be considered for the position. You can even tack on a comment, and ask them if there is an age requirement associated to this position. Usually that is enough for an employer to recognize their mistake and usually they will quickly apologies.
Now if they persist, you are fully in your rights if the position is not dependent on an age requirement, to tell them you are uncomfortable disclosing that information, and ask them why exactly they are asking. It could be a mistake or maybe the interviewer is not clear about the purpose behind their question. So I always like to get into a dialog about why they need that information, rather than assume they are just uninformed. Often, they are trying to get to another question and mistakenly asked about age.