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Unlawful questions for a job interview.  Do you know what questions not to ask candidates?  

Despite Employment Law being in force for many decades, I’m still surprised at the questions still asked during an interview.  Everyone involved in the recruitment process should be fully trained and aware of the Equality Act 2010 and what the consequences are of not following the law.

Ensure you and your managers are recruiting within UK Employment Law:  Equality Act 2010.  It is important to avoid asking illegal interview questions for compliance with UK Employment Law, Equal Opportunities & Diversity.

The recruitment process more than perhaps any other stage of the employment relationship engages almost the full range of employment law issues. 

Such as discrimination because of;

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy & Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex and/or Sexual Orientation: 

All of the above are Protective Characteristics under the Equity Act 2010.  These are characteristics that have no relevance to a person’s ability to do the job.  Using any of the above to make decisions during the recruitment process is unlawful.

The Recruitment process:  Job Description, Advertising, Screening, Selecting for an interview, Interview questions, conducting pre-employment tests, reviewing references, vetting and checking immigration status, health issues, and criminal records and offers. 

The recruitment process is also concerned with aspects of data protection, immigration, and employment, human rights (the use of medical testing and inquiries about criminal history), the law concerning contracts, statutory employment rights.

Unlawful questions for a job interview.  Do you know what questions not to ask candidates?  

Despite Employment Law being in force for many decades, I’m still surprised at the questions still asked during an interview.  Everyone involved in the recruitment process should be fully trained and aware of the Equality Act 2010 and what the consequences are of not following the law.

Ensure you and your managers are recruiting within UK Employment Law:  Equality Act 2010.  It is important to avoid asking illegal interview questions for compliance with UK Employment Law, Equal Opportunities & Diversity.

The recruitment process more than perhaps any other stage of the employment relationship engages almost the full range of employment law issues. 

Such as discrimination because of

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy & Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex and/or Sexual Orientation: 

All of the above are Protective Characteristics under the Equity Act 2010.  These are characteristics that have no relevance to a person’s ability to do the job.  Using any of the above to make decisions during the recruitment process is unlawful.

The Recruitment process:  Job Description, Advertising, Screening, Selecting for an interview, Interview questions, conducting pre-employment tests, reviewing references, vetting and checking immigration status, health issues, and criminal records and offers. 

The recruitment process is also concerned with aspects of data protection, immigration, and employment, human rights (the use of medical testing and inquiries about criminal history), the law concerning contracts, statutory employment rights.

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Illegal Questions

How old are you? What is your date of birth?

Age discrimination is illegal and it is not good practice to use age as a reason for not employing someone.  Thankfully, there are lots of organizations that value diversity and will want to attract a broad range of individuals.  Diversity is of big benefit to businesses and research shows that these companies are usually more productive and profitable.  

There may be a need to ask for a date of birth for pension purposes but this is usually obtained once you’ve been offered a job and you are an employee.  You should not be asking for this personal or sensitive data during the interview.  

Are you married?

Again, for pension purposes, there may be a need for this information but I can see no useful purpose in asking this at the recruitment stage. This is one of the illegal interview questions.

How many children do you have?

Sex Discrimination. This is also irrelevant but a common question asked at many interviews.  Normally these questions are only asked to women.  

How far do you take this – many people would see their pet dog as being a greater tie in their lives than their children but we would not ask if people have a pet would we!?

Where are you from originally?

Race Discrimination – This is again a common question, which has no relevance on someone’s ability to perform the job requirements.

An interviewee of Afro-Caribbean descent was asked this at an interview to which he answered Guildford, where he was born!

As there is some traveling associated with this job, how will you manage child care?

Sex Discrimination – this is probably the most common area of difficulty in respect of sexual discrimination issues. If the job involves substantial travel and overnight stays away it is essential that this is made clear to the candidate. 

However, you will have a duty to let every single candidate know the requirements of the job.  You should not be singling out an individual because you’ve made an assumption this requirement might not suit.

How an individual manages their domestic arrangements is a matter for them to deal with and nothing to do with you at this stage.  Again, assumptions can get you into trouble during the recruitment process.

5 years of experience within a credit analysis role is essential

Age Discrimination – Length of experience requirements. Avoid specifying any maximum or minimum lengths of experience.

Avoid statements like “Looking for someone with youthful enthusiasm” or “Must demonstrate a mature attitude to work.”

Age Discrimination – the wording in job advertisements/agency briefing emails / avoid any wording that could give an impression that applicants from a particular age range would be favourable, for example, ‘mature’ or ‘young’.

Also, avoid mentioning that you are seeking a ‘dynamic’ and ‘enthusiastic’ person when this is really given for most jobs – although these words in themselves are not discriminatory on grounds of age, they could be used by unsuccessful job applicants to support a claim of indirect age discrimination.

Must have at least five GCSE’s

Must have at least five GCSE’s – is no longer acceptable on Job Descriptions.

Age Discrimination – Qualification requirements – think carefully about any qualification listed under the qualifications and training section of the Job Description. Are they really required?

If you specify for example, that the applicant must have a degree you will have to be able to justify this. Be aware that far more people graduate these days than was the case 20 years ago.

This means that specifying that applicants must have a degree could indirectly discriminate against applicants in their 40s, 50s, and 60s – it may be more appropriate to list a degree as desirable criteria for a job.

It is accepted good practice when asking for qualifications that you also state ‘or equivalent experience’ e.g. project management qualifications or equivalent experience required.

Part-time vacancy – would suit females returning to work.

This is direct discrimination under the previous Sex Discrimination Act and now the Equality Act 2010. If you are advertising part-time work you should consider applications from all candidates and screen against job-specific criteria.

If you are following a fair, consistent, and objective format for interviews there’s no reason to be asking illegal interview questions such as the one above.

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Now that you are more aware of the illegal interview questions – Click here for some examples of behavioural competency questions you can ask at the interview.

 

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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