Hiring? Five things it’s never okay to ask about in an interview

When talking about interview situations, most people imagine the spotlight to be purely on the candidate. However, it’s just as important for the interviewer to do a good job. You need to ask the right questions and just as crucially – avoid embarrassing or inappropriate interview pitfalls, which happen surprisingly often according to a recent BBC article.

Here are just 5 of the areas that are never appropriate to touch upon in an interview with a candidate, some which are actually illegal to ask about and others which are simply improper.

  1. Age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and other protected characteristics. It is against the law to ask candidates about their sexual orientation or religion, to ask where a person is from or whether English is their first language or even to bring up the issue of age and whether it will affect their ability to do the job. You may have valid reasons for doing so (i.e. to ensure your company is meeting its equal opportunities quotas) but it’s not relevant and is illegal. It could leave you open to allegations of discrimination in your hiring practices.


  1. Family situation. Asking someone if they plan to have children or if they already have a family can make them feel very uncomfortable and suggests that they may be overlooked for the position if they give the ‘wrong’ answer. Again, it is not relevant and could raise concerns over discrimination.


  1. Confidential information from previous positions. It is inappropriate to ask candidates about potentially sensitive information from their last job, especially if the candidate has a non-disclosure agreement in place.


  1. Sick days. If there is a significant gap in a candidate’s CV, it may be appropriate to ask them about it. However, asking a candidate how many sick days they had in a previous job is essentially prying into their health and invading their privacy, so it’s best to steer clear of this kind of question.


  1. Trade union membership. This kind of questions suggests that someone may be overlooked if they are a member of a union, so it’s best to avoid this topic completely. This isn’t information you need to know in order to assess the person’s suitability for the job.

Remember, how you conduct yourself as an interviewer tells the candidate an enormous amount about your company and about what it’s like to work there. If you fail to show respect for the candidate and their personal, private information, and say things that suggest that your hiring practices could potentially be discriminatory – you could be breaking the law. You could also offend the candidate, scare real talent away and acquire a bad reputation within the industry.

For advice on conducting effective interviews and for information on pre-interview screening and other services to improve your recruitment process, get in touch with the specialist IT, digital and tech recruitment team at SOLOS Consultants.



image courtesy of stockimages @ freedigitalphotos.net

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