• From Callista Gould, the Good Manners Goddess

What if you get, “The Illegal Question” in an interview?

It’s usually directed at women: “Are you married? Do you or will you have kids?”

The question behind the question: “Will you be coming late and bolting early for school programs, teacher conferences, medical issues and sports?”

There is an abundance of advice online on how to dodge or rebuff this question. But Natalie McCandies, attorney at law, has another suggestion:

Answer it.

I contacted Natalie, because I was impressed by her answer, which I first heard when we were both speaking at Valparaiso University Law School.

I am a mother, I have a son. We are planning on having more. But that won’t have any effect on how I do my job. I try to keep my professional and family life separate. But my family is very important to me and I am a mother first.

Natalie had the question when interviewing for a public defender’s department. Obviously, they would know asking about family or kids is illegal. So why ask it?

“They are looking for your response,” explains Natalie. “In the legal field, you deal with all kinds of people and people will test you. Will you fly off the handle or be defensive?”

Natalie was hired. “They liked my honesty,” she said.

She even brought her son into the office while working long hours as second chair with another attorney on a murder trial.

Natalie is now a prosecutor. But she said people in that public defender’s office, appreciated her hard work and still provide excellent references for her. The askers of The Illegal Question, were nice people and good mentors after all.

When asked The Illegal Question in interviews, you have options. Natalie’s option to answer it with honesty and candor, is a good one.

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