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Russell Sealy, Candidate

Interview Questions that Employers are Not Allowed to Ask

During every job interview, the employer's goal is to obtain important information whilst building a friendly yet professional rapport with the candidate.

However, some questions can either unwittingly, or perhaps even wittingly, go over the line of legality.  

  • Direct discrimination is nearly always illegal, and nearly always obvious.

  • However, indirect discrimination can be caused by simply being unaware of the laws on what you can and cannot ask at interview.

Please remember to protect yourself and your company by avoiding asking the 'wrong' aka 'illegal questions' whilst still being able to gain the information required to recruit successfully.  

Many questions such as 'where do you live' can be asked in good faith and quite innocently but can cause you and your company legal nuisances and embarrassment

These articles will be able to inform you about what you can't ask and methods on how to turn litigious questions into legal alternatives.

Most Common Illegal Interview Questions

According to a CIPD report in 2021, the most common illegal interview questions in order were based on:

  • Age, i.e. What year were you born?
  • Race, i.e. Where were your parents from?
  • Marital Status, i.e. Are you married, and where does your partner work?
  • Gender, i.e. Have you gender transitioned?
  • Religion, i.e. Are you x religion/faith?
  • Parental Status, i.e. What are your childcare arrangements?
  • Sexual Orientation, i.e., Are you a were a member of the LGBTQIA+ community
  • Pregnancy Status, i.e. Are you planning on having more children?

What You Can't Ask at Interview:

Nationality - Questions on Nationality

Religion - Questions on Religion

Age - Questions on Age

Marital and Family Status - Questions on Marital and Family Status

Gender - Questions on Gender

Health and Physical Abilities - Questions on Health and Physical Abilities

Miscellaneous - Miscellaneous questions and conclusion

Laws to Consider When Interviewing

There is not a single act to protect candidates, but there are many laws that you must take into account when interviewing. 

This is not an exhaustive list, but the main acts/statutes are:

  • Equality Act, 2010
  • Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, 2006
  • Employment Rights Act, 1996
  • Working Time Regulations, 1998
  • National Minimum Wages Act, 1998
  • Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations, 2006 (as amended)
  • Data Protection Act, 1998

Examples of Common Illegal Questions

From these pages, you can find out why the following are illegal to ask during a sales interview:

  1. Questions on Nationality
  2. Questions on Religion
  3. Questions on Age
  4. Questions on Marital and Family Status
  5. Questions on Gender
  6. Questions on Health and Physical Abilities
  7. Miscellaneous questions and conclusion

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Rob Scott - Aaron Wallis

by Rob Scott

Managing Director

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 26 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013, Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as the FT, Business Insider, Forbes and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which hosts The Online Recruitment Awards every year.