Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Being asked about accent in an interview?

So I had an interview yesterday (for the record, I'm US born dalocummelioribus06/01/18
Just be open minded, you could tell the interviewers your ba monroeroeroe06/04/18
I get asked from time to time because mine shifts around fro wutwutwut06/01/18
Could be, yes...I get told sometimes that I have a slight "B dalocummelioribus06/01/18
Technically asking where you were born is the part they aren pisces21306/01/18
can't and shouldn't are two different things. You can ask dingbat06/02/18
If you don't get the job, file an EEOC complaint. sillydood06/01/18
Not a bad thought as the question can be construed as discri esquirewalletsmatter06/01/18
And if she gets the job, the other job candidates should fil themapmaster06/01/18
Pretty sure OP identifies as male. wutwutwut06/02/18
This is law not SJW news network. Come on, guy. esquirewalletsmatter06/02/18
Sounds like a terrible flirt gone wrong in every aspect- tim maxwell06/01/18
Yes! I actually think the person was trying to be somewhat f dalocummelioribus06/01/18
Assuming it was an unintentionally offensive flirtation, not maxwell06/02/18
I didn't think it was creepy BUT...I did find it a bit "off" dalocummelioribus06/03/18
actually they can ask about where you are from as long as na wolfman06/01/18
I once got asked in an interview if I was married, a totally caj11106/03/18
I wouldn't think much of it. I'm born and raised 4 hours fr hous06/03/18
We’re fast approaching the point where no one should even notiers06/03/18
EEOC complaint ladies & gentlemen? Me thinks yes. Now I g dalocummelioribus06/03/18
And to follow up, I'd never be the plaintiff in an EEOC issu jd4hire06/04/18
I'm not an attorney though -- the position was for something dalocummelioribus06/04/18
I might have missed this - are you white? I know you said b jd4hire06/04/18
Discussion boards like this are why no one ever wants to hir palmtree1906/04/18
Yes, I'm White, male. dalocummelioribus06/04/18
And you think you were discriminated against???? Seriously, jd4hire06/05/18
Wow. You sound so angry. As I already indicated earlier in t dalocummelioribus06/05/18
Not angry at all. Dumbfounded. jd4hire06/05/18
The worst part is some ambulance chaser would file it in a j whipster06/04/18
A white male offended by a question about accent does not a jmoney06/05/18
Well, for the 3rd time...I'm NOT a lawyer. The position was dalocummelioribus06/06/18
Before you disclosed that you are not an attorney (which it jd4hire06/06/18
I have done Paralegal work, but no, never got a US JD or pro dalocummelioribus06/12/18
It's almost always an innocent question. I get it too, since dieter06/06/18
If you seem cool about it it is less likely to count against adamb06/07/18
@adamb: Nope, no gay lisp for me ha! I'm a very good actor t dalocummelioribus06/12/18

dalocummelioribus (Jun 1, 2018 - 4:05 pm)

So I had an interview yesterday (for the record, I'm US born & raised) but have lived all over the place...I don't really think I have an "accent" at all...but some people say I don´t "sound" local...but then they say I pronounce everything correctly so maybe just because I speak very formally they say "accent". Anyway, my question is this: I had an interview on Skype yesterday with a lawyer and all seemed to be going well until the person asked me where I was born...so I said the place and the lawyer says "I ask because of your accent...it sounds "quite exotic!" In my mind I was thinking WTF?? But I just smiled a bit and said "oh, thank you". Isn't that a red flag to be asked/told that in an interview? And I'm far from being PC but I thought it was quite rude anyway.

Any thoughts?

Reply Like (0)
monroeroeroe (Jun 4, 2018 - 11:06 am)

Just be open minded, you could tell the interviewers your background and the fact that you are moving from places to places, give a throughout explanation. This could be a open opportunity for you to introduce yourself a bit more. I personally dont think this is inappropriate question to ask, as long as you make it become a good chance to engage in the conversation a bit more. Just my take.

Reply Like (0)
wutwutwut (Jun 1, 2018 - 4:27 pm)

I get asked from time to time because mine shifts around from the Queen's Engrish to Midwestern redneck rasp to deep South.

Maybe given all the places you've lived you've picked up a few particular localisms from here or there that makes people curious.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 1, 2018 - 6:00 pm)

Could be, yes...I get told sometimes that I have a slight "British" accent, others tell me I sound "slightly West Coast" (whatever that means), and yet others tell me I sound "neutral".

Reply Like (0)
pisces213 (Jun 1, 2018 - 4:49 pm)

Technically asking where you were born is the part they aren’t allowed to do (well I guess they could if they weren’t intending to ask about your citizenship). So my guess is that the person brought up the accent to try and mitigate the fact that the question was asked.

Reply Like (0)
dingbat (Jun 2, 2018 - 8:21 pm)

can't and shouldn't are two different things.

You can ask anything you want in an interview, but you cannot base your hiring decisions on certain discriminatory criteria. HR typically prohibits questions like that as a precaution - e.g. if no one ever asked about religion, the applicant can't claim religious discrimination.

Reply Like (0)
sillydood (Jun 1, 2018 - 5:06 pm)

If you don't get the job, file an EEOC complaint.

Reply Like (0)
esquirewalletsmatter (Jun 1, 2018 - 5:19 pm)

Not a bad thought as the question can be construed as discriminatory in re national origin.

Reply Like (0)
themapmaster (Jun 1, 2018 - 8:15 pm)

And if she gets the job, the other job candidates should file complaints. Such speech cannot be permitted in a free society.

Reply Like (0)
wutwutwut (Jun 2, 2018 - 12:32 pm)

Pretty sure OP identifies as male.

Reply Like (0)
esquirewalletsmatter (Jun 2, 2018 - 2:04 pm)

This is law not SJW news network. Come on, guy.

Reply Like (0)
maxwell (Jun 1, 2018 - 5:50 pm)

Sounds like a terrible flirt gone wrong in every aspect- time/place/delivery.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 1, 2018 - 5:59 pm)

Yes! I actually think the person was trying to be somewhat flirtatious...since they seemed quite smiley throughout the interview and a generally positive vibe until that comment...maybe it was very very unintentionally offensive.

Reply Like (0)
maxwell (Jun 2, 2018 - 4:37 pm)

Assuming it was an unintentionally offensive flirtation, not sure you want to work at a place where the hiring partner/manager is already hitting on you during the initial interview. Depends on the vibe you got (innocent or creepy). OR you could use it to your advantage. Lots of variables.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 3, 2018 - 10:57 pm)

I didn't think it was creepy BUT...I did find it a bit "off" and while it isn't offensive to me, it's also borderline faux pas...kind of like using the word "oriental" to describe an Asian.

Reply Like (0)
wolfman (Jun 1, 2018 - 7:45 pm)

actually they can ask about where you are from as long as national origin is not involved or implied... it's perfectly legal not to hire someone because he is a damn yankee or a sodbuster from oklahoma or a jersey shore type of moron (I wouldn't want any of those haha), as regional origin within the US is not a protected category... as a practical matter most HR people will tell you not to ask where someone is from in case it's a foreigner, of course... but i agree that the individual was likely just making small talk/flirting lol

Reply Like (0)
caj111 (Jun 3, 2018 - 12:27 am)

I once got asked in an interview if I was married, a totally illegal question. But the job market for lawyers sucked so bad at the time, what was I going to do about it anyway? So I answered. Never got the job, but I moved on and got a job that likely paid better than what that place would have paid.

Reply Like (0)
hous (Jun 3, 2018 - 2:28 am)

I wouldn't think much of it. I'm born and raised 4 hours from where I live and I've heard everything from that I have a slight southern drawl to a European accent. I'm neither southern nor European but it doesn't bother me one bit.

Reply Like (0)
notiers (Jun 3, 2018 - 10:15 am)

We’re fast approaching the point where no one should even speak — at all.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 3, 2018 - 6:33 pm)

EEOC complaint ladies & gentlemen? Me thinks yes.

Now I got this message:

"Hi (----------)",

I have actually just hired someone who has the exact skillset I'm looking for. However, will keep your resume to hand in case something else opens up.

Many thanks for your interest,

(Name)"

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Jun 4, 2018 - 1:56 pm)

And to follow up, I'd never be the plaintiff in an EEOC issue like this. I feel like many fellow attorneys would look down on you as attempting a shake down. If there were legitimate discrimination, I'd move forward, but I think this is a complete non-starter.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 4, 2018 - 7:06 pm)

I'm not an attorney though -- the position was for something else in a law office, but not a Lawyer.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Jun 4, 2018 - 10:27 am)

I might have missed this - are you white? I know you said born in the US, but lived everywhere else. To me, that makes a world of difference. I'm white and have a southern accent (I get reminded of it often by members of the bar). I don't think anything of it when they say that though. If I were Indian America, I might be offended.

On the flip side, if you're brown, they would have seen that on Skype. Just doesn't seem like there is anything to really demonstrate discrimination. Asking about an accent clearly can get to national origin, but so can appearance.

Just seems like a stupid question. I think you're looking way too much into it.

Reply Like (0)
palmtree19 (Jun 4, 2018 - 1:24 pm)

Discussion boards like this are why no one ever wants to hire lawyers for non-law positions.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 4, 2018 - 7:05 pm)

Yes, I'm White, male.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Jun 5, 2018 - 8:45 am)

And you think you were discriminated against???? Seriously, grow up and move on. You didn't get the job and your sour. This is a joke. And this is not only why no one wants to hire lawyers for non-law positions, this is why a good chunk of society hate attorneys.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 5, 2018 - 2:00 pm)

Wow. You sound so angry. As I already indicated earlier in this discussion, I AM NOT an attorney. The position was for something else in a law office, NOT attorney work.

As for discrimination...I never said I felt discriminated...all I asked was a question about certain types of questions during an interview. I still think it is inappropriate to make personal remarks in an interview. I wasn't being hired to be a linguist either...so the whole question was either irrelevant or an attempt to be nice but it came out faux pas.

PS: I'm not sour at all...I actually wasn't really looking to be desperate for that particular job.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Jun 5, 2018 - 2:09 pm)

Not angry at all. Dumbfounded.

Reply Like (0)
whipster (Jun 4, 2018 - 3:38 pm)

The worst part is some ambulance chaser would file it in a jiffy.

Reply Like (0)
jmoney (Jun 5, 2018 - 10:28 pm)

A white male offended by a question about accent does not a good lawyer make.

Seriously.

The question was likely an invitation to discuss your geographical history to determine if you are a flight risk.

It doesn't sound like you were interviewing with Skadden, so they are probably worried that you will up and leave after they invest their time and money into you.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 6, 2018 - 12:38 pm)

Well, for the 3rd time...I'm NOT a lawyer. The position was NOT for attorney.

And I did not say I was offended really, just that the question seemed odd or a bit awkward for an interview.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (Jun 6, 2018 - 1:56 pm)

Before you disclosed that you are not an attorney (which it should be noted that the name of the forum strongly supports the notion that posters here have JDs - not required, but... In your first post, you also noted that you interviewed with a lawyer. Given the Forum name and the topics discussed, in conjunction with your post that you interviewed with a lawyer, the conclusion that you're an attorney is not unreasonable), you posted the following:

"EEOC complaint ladies & gentlemen? Me thinks yes."

So either you were (1) offended and are a snowflake (not a fan of that term but it fits here) or (2) looking to do the old plaintiff shake-down.

So back to your first post, you asked for thoughts. People gave them. You clearly don't like them and are now deflecting by mentioning that you said "I'm NOT a lawyer." Okay, great.

So as an attorney, the question about the accent was absolutely nothing. Move on.

And for the record, not angry.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 12, 2018 - 11:01 am)

I have done Paralegal work, but no, never got a US JD or professional law degree (because I lost interest in it and because the degrees I did have would not be easily transferable to a JD program). I do follow legal topics though...and originally came to this forum because I had a question about JD's having a European qualification, etc. Anyways, totally irrelevant now but just a bit of background so you see why I was here to begin with.

As to your question: I was not "offended". I was simply taken aback a bit, surprised someone would ask that. I don't know, obviously, where you are from but in my area, asking people about where they are from or making personal comments about their accent/appearance is generally not really acceptable in many contexts, especially an interview. So no, not offended, but did think (and DO think) it is a bit sketchy or in the best of cases, CARELESS to ask.

2. Nope, no interest in doing a shake-down although let me freely admit that if I were given the opportunity to make some money from this by suing, you better believe I'd be suing...whether or not it's a shake-down. I will never reject any opportunity to make some extra money (as long as it is legal, of course).

By the way, I never said anything about disliking all thoughts expressed here. Me not necessarily liking yours doesn't mean all.

Glad to read you're not angry. Enjoy your day!

Reply Like (0)
dieter (Jun 6, 2018 - 9:03 pm)

It's almost always an innocent question. I get it too, since I tend to slip into a vaguely Mid-Atlantic accent in formal interviews, and list a lot of languages on my resume.

It's probably an unwise question from an HR perspective, as it could be construed the wrong way by the professionally offended. Just conversation though. I ask about accents all the time.

You're a polyglot too, aren't you? (I seem to remember Catalan or Portuguese.) It does affect your speech. Polyglots tend to have a much larger vocabulary, and more malleable accents than monoglots.

Reply Like (0)
adamb (Jun 7, 2018 - 8:31 am)

If you seem cool about it it is less likely to count against you...as long as you also do not have a gay lisp (I’ve had many a friend fired for this offense). For example, I play straight with hetero male interviewers, then drop the bomb later, and talk about cute things with older female interviewers like my boyfriend’s pet unicorn (when in fact I have a mad Italian husband but truth is whatever you want it to be in interviews, life, and investigations of treason).

Bottom line: dress sharp and give good face.

Reply Like (0)
dalocummelioribus (Jun 12, 2018 - 11:07 am)

@adamb: Nope, no gay lisp for me ha! I'm a very good actor though so I agree with you. I always tailor my responses to best suit whoever is interviewing me...or at least, I try!


@dieter: No sir/madam! Not Portuguese speaking! Yes! You're right...I DO get people telling me often that I "speak very well" and that my vocabulary is "incredible" as well as my public speaking skills. I do think my accent varies and I can easily "pick up" wherever I am. I definitely don't sound (and this I know) like your average Joe from Main Street, USA...BUT, I also don't sound foreign (because I'm not). I asked a very sensitive (to accents) person yesterday to interpret my "accent" and he said "to me, your pronunciation is definitely American, but not your intonation...you speak more like from the stomach and have a very deep voice so it's not as nasal as many Americans and you sound basically like an older speaker with a Mid-Atlantic tinge, similar to FDR". So, it could be my intonation!

Reply Like (0)
Post a message in this thread