8 Questions you really shouldn’t ask at interview

When you’re conducting interviews, the last thing you want – or expect – is to end up on the wrong side of the law by bringing up questions you really shouldn’t ask at interview.

But it’s not surprising to learn that in the thousands of interviews that take place every day, illegal interview questions are still being asked and what’s worse is that candidates often feel obliged to answer them!

To keep the relationship between interviewer and interviewee on the right track, it’s important that both parties understand what can and cannot be asked and even more importantly why. Some questions may seem innocent enough and of course you want to find out as much as you possibly can about your candidate, but asking certain questions can land you in seriously hot water.

For example, asking where a candidate lives may seem like general chit-chat, but this could be interpreted as discrimination based on location. A better way to phrase the question is to ask if commuting to the place of work would be a problem. Basically that’s all you need to know, so the exact location of their home address is irrelevant.

This just goes to show just how careful you need to be when putting together your interview questions.

A good rule of thumb is to think that if there was any way that I could possibly discriminate against a candidate based on their answer to my question, then I need to rethink the question, rephrase or to leave it out completely.

Now of course you want to find out as much as possible about your candidate, that’s the whole point of asking them to attend an interview in the first place, but here’s a list of questions that I would advise that you avoid at all costs.

  1. What is your faith?
  2. What is your sexual orientation?
  3. Are you married?
  4. What is your ethnicity?
  5. How old are you?
  6. Do you have children or plan to?
  7. Are you married?
  8. Do you have a disability?

In most circumstances, these questions have absolutely no bearing on if a person can carry out tasks pertaining to the position. However in limited circumstances, some of the questions above can be asked if there are certain elements of a position that will be affected.

So my advice to you is if you’ll be carrying out interviews for any position, then play it safe and seek specialist advice to avoid asking any illegal interview questions.