In Europe, it is a norm for candidates to include extensive personal information on their resumes – age, marital status, number of children (if any). Canadian labour law, however, prevents employers from asking job seekers to disclose such details. What used to be common here too, no longer is. You might be surprised to find out that Canadian law even prohibits interviewers from asking applicants how much they make in their current job! At proNexia, we approach this by phrasing the question as: “May I know what your current compensation is?”. If the candidate says that s/he would rather keep the information confidential, we have to grant them that right and move on to another question!
So, what do you do if the interviewer asks you how old you are? Keep in mind that many hiring managers simply don’t know that they are not allowed to ask such a question. Instead of automatically taking offense, consider approaching the question in a humorous fashion and saying something along the lines of: “I am in my 30s” (if you are, of course) or saying: “I am no longer in my 20s and am definitely not an entry-level candidate, yet neither am I close to retirement and will be able to give you at least 20 years of exceptional service”. If the person continues to push for an answer and you would prefer not disclosing how old you are, you could say that you would really appreciate to be allowed to keep your age confidential since you would rather be evaluated on your skill-set and personality fit instead of a number. What if the person does not get your not-so-subtle hint #2 and continues to insist? Think of how much you really want the job and if you really see yourself working for someone as forceful. If the interviewer seems to be borderline obsessed with knowing how old you are, chances are very high that you will be discriminated against. Admittedly, the individual might have developed an interest in you on a personal level, but that is a whole other level of awkwardness!
If you really feel that you were a perfect fit for a job and are confident that your age was the reason you were not retained, you could definitely consider legal action. On the other hand, you could just thank you lucky stars that you did not end up stuck working for someone unprofessional and nosy! If you have to deal with pressure to answer personal questions during the interview, what kinds of questions will you be fielding once hired?