Job interviews are an essential part of the recruitment process and, for many, the final stage before deciding on who you should hire.
This means that every question you ask must be well thought out, relevant and enable you to develop a strong understanding of the candidate and whether they would fit in with the team and into the role.
However, there are certain questions that you should omit from the interview process even when they seem, or are intended as, harmful attempts at getting to know the candidate better.
What childcare arrangements do you have in place?
It may seem important to establish an idea as to how a parent is going to balance their home life with work, especially if they are returning to work after maternity leave. However, it is quite a personal question and they don’t have to share this kind of information with you at all.
If they are sat in the interview, and they are aware of the working hours for the position, then they obviously have something in place when it comes to childcare to accommodate this.
Plus, it could possible be classed as discriminatory.
What are your political/religious beliefs?
This is a completely irrelevant question as a person’s political views or religious beliefs should have no impact on whether they get the job. If this were to play into your decision in any way then it will fall under discrimination and you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
How much did you get paid at your last job?
It’s not so much a dangerous or rude question to ask in an interview but it isn’t your right to know and the candidate doesn’t have to tell you.
It wouldn’t be fair to use information such as recent salary as a deciding factor on whether someone should get the job. If someone is earning more than this job is offering, you can’t assume that this will affect the retention of the candidate. Nor should you feel as though you can change the salary being offered for the role if the candidate is currently on a lot less money.
Though, you could phrase it as a question asking for the candidate’s salary expectations if the job has been advertised with a banded salary.
Are you pregnant/expecting a child?
Under no circumstances can you ask an interviewee whether they are pregnant, even if it seems obvious. There is no obligation for them to bring it up and, if you were to not employ someone because they are pregnant, then you would be at risk of a discrimination claim.
It may be frustrating as an employer to hire someone then learn a month later that they will be needing maternity leave but this can have no impact on your decision to hire someone.
How often have you been ill in the past 12 months?
Asking about sickness, in any capacity, can be construed as enquiring about disabilities which can lead to discrimination claims.
The question itself is irrelevant anyway, if someone has taken 10 sick days in the past year due to a health issue or accident they had earlier in the year this does not represent their health or any future sick days they may need at all.
Where are you from?
Asking someone where they are from to get an understanding as to where they live in correlation to the work premises is fine and quite common. However, you are stepping into dangerous territory when you start asking where some originates from i.e. which country they were born, as this can fall under race discrimination.
How old are you?
Although you can usually get a rough idea of someone’s age based on their CV which will date past jobs, qualifications, and some people even choose to include their date of birth, you should never explicitly ask someone their age.
Not only is it considered rude, it can lead to age discrimination claims if it appears you did not give someone a job because they were ‘too young’ or ‘too old’.
Have you ever been arrested?
It is against the law to discriminate against someone who has a criminal conviction in most industries. However, there are some exceptions to that rule such as working in a school, bank or with children, in which case a DBS check is part of the application process as some industries are exempt from Rehabilitation of Offenders Act which allows for questions surrounding spent and unspent convictions.
When do you hope to retire?
Those who are closer to retirement cannot be discriminated against because they plan to retire in five or so years. This, again, would fall under age discrimination.
What’s your relationship status?
A candidate’s relationship status falls under the category of a ‘protected characteristic’ just like race and religion, so you cannot enquire if someone is married, single or co-habiting.
Though you may be asking as a conversation starter and for completely innocent reason, it has no relevance to any job and it is a personal and intrusive question.
As an employer, you have a responsibility to remain professional and fair during the recruitment process. If you need further advice on the recruitment process, check out our blog on Ten Recruitment Red Flags.
You can also discuss hiring, firing and everything in between with one of our experienced HR consultants when you become a client of ours.
Call us today on 0845 2626 260 to learn more or book a free consultation