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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:
- Questions on Nationality
- Questions on Religion
- Questions on Age
- Questions on Marital and Family Status
- Questions on Gender
- Questions on Health and Physical Abilities
- Miscellaneous questions and conclusion
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by Rob Scott
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