The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Definitive Guide to #Job Hunting: Illegal #Interview Questions

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Not allowedMost job seekers and very often, interviewers have no idea what an Illegal Interview Question sounds like.

Interviews are discussions and most questions are asked sincerely in an attempt to make conversation and to find out more about the interviewee. But often, certain questions might also be asked with a view to discriminate or to exclude a person from a role. Whether intentional or not, the law addresses certain particular areas and ignorance is not an excuse. My suggestion would be that both interviewers and interviewees are sensitive to these and deal with them constructively to avoid potential litigation, and to ensure an objective recruitment process.

Here are a few examples of common stonkers that could potentially cause litigation on grounds of discrimination:

1. Age
Inappropriate:

  • How old are you?
  • When were you born?
  • When did you graduate / complete high school?

Appropriate:

  • Confirming that you are the appropriate age for the required hours or working conditions (Minimum wage and Working Time Directive)

2.Nationality

Inappropriate:

  • Are you British?
  • Are your parents or spouse citizens?
  • Are you, your parents or your spouse naturalized or British born?

Appropriate:

  • If you are not a British citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the UK?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility?

3.Criminal Record

Inappropriate:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?
  • Do you have a record?

Appropriate:

  • Do you have any unspent convictions? (A rigourous set of rules apply to the declaration of spent convictions, and there are certain jobs that are excluded and where declaration of all convictions are compulsory.)
  • Doing a CRB check

4.Disability

Inappropriate:

  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What’s your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?

Appropriate:

  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job?
  • What reasonable adjustments must be made to assist you in fulfilling your duties?

5.Marital status or Civil partnership

Inappropriate:

  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?
  • Are you planning to have children?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work overtime?
  • Can you meet specified work schedules?

6.National Origin

Inappropriate:

  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What’s your heritage?
  • What is your mother tongue?

Appropriate:

  • Verifying legal work visa status to verify eligibility for employment – Are you eligible for employment here?
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?

7.Maternity

Inappropriate:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • How old are you? (To a woman between age 25 to 40, which is the average childbearing age in the UK)

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.

8.Race

Inappropriate:

  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?

Appropriate:

  • None

9.Religion or Belief

Inappropriate:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?
  • “Our uniform excludes turbans” or anything else that relates tothis subject.

Appropriate:

  • Can you work on Saturdays? (If relevant to the job)

10.Sex or Sexual Orientation

Inappropriate:

  • What are your plans to have children in the future?
  • Are you gay?
  • Will you be strong / tall / fit enough to do the same tasks as the men?

Appropriate: None

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