Illegal Interview Questions

22 October 2020 Kat Morgan

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Did you know that 1 in 5 employers unknowingly ask illegal interview questions?

 Recruiting new staff is a big deal. During any interview, the conversation can sometimes become more general and casual chit chat can unwittingly lead to asking the wrong questions to a potential candidate.

The purpose of a job interview is to determine whether the candidate is the most appropriate person for the job. The questions you are asked should relate specifically to their ability to perform the inherent requirements of that role.
Not only does asking these questions put you and your business at risk, it makes the candidate uncomfortable, you look unprofessional and the chance of the candidate accepting a role with you quite slim.
Given that a person’s character traits are relevant to their ability to perform many jobs, questions that demonstrate these character traits (e.g. “Provide an example of a time you overcame a problem”) are perfectly permissible. However, questions that seek information beyond what is relevant to the role are not.

We have created some sample questions for you to approach these issues appropriately.


1.   How old are you?


A potential candidates age is irrelevant to the role, no matter the circumstance.

Try asking: “How many years experience do you have”.

Don’t try and find a back door into this question by asking how long someone has lived in an area, or where they went to school or university and when they finished.


2.  Are you married?


Someone’s marital status is irrelevant to their ability to carry out their role and therefore cannot be asked.


3.  What nationality are you, where are you from?


 A candidates cultural background or heritage is not relevant to their abilities. You cannot ask this question.

 You can clarify working rights status by asking “this role requires the successful candidate to have full working rights, can you confirm that your visa status permits this”

 You can also ask about language skill.

For example “we have a large French client base and require the successful candidate to speak French at an intermediate level, can you please confirm that you can speak French at that level.”


4.  What is your religion?


This is never a question that can be asked.


5.   Are you pregnant and or planning on
starting a family?


A pregnancy or potential pregnancy does not change someones work abilities.

Try “we require a level of commitment from the successful staff member that they be able to carry out this role for the next two years with a significant amount of over time. Do you believe this is something you can commit to?”

6. Are you in a same sex relationship?

This question can never be asked


7.  Do you have children?


This question is not relevant to an employees ability to perform their duties. You may be wondering if your business hours could interfere with a school drop off for instance, so try:

 “Our office hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm, can you commit to working those hours”.


8. What do your children do? How old are
your children?


This question is inappropriate and not relevant to an employees ability to carry out their duties.


9.  What does your husband or wife do?


This question is inappropriate and not relevant to an employees ability to carry out their duties.