Recently I received an email from a student of mine who just graduated telling me how her job interviews were going. She ended by sharing that the employers were asking her questions such as when was she getting married and was he willing to move with her (they had apparently noticed her engagement ring). Her question to me was, do I have to answer these types of questions?
Employers obviously have a right to ask questions that will help them determine whom to hire. However, questions about race, religion, age, sex, arrest records, and intentions re marriage and starting a family can lead to discrimination against the candidate and are thus illegal.
So what to tell the student? I usually say that if it really doesn't bother you to answer the question, go ahead. Better yet, try to determine the real reason for the question such as, will you be dependable if you have children or will your husband be ok with your traveling extensively in the new job. Don't point out that the question is inappropriate but instead assure the interviewer that your career is important to you and that you are able to successfully manage both your personal and professional lives.
A final note: I also tell the student to consider that if this company is asking questions that are blatantly discriminatory or illegal in the interviewing process, is this a company you want to work for?