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7 Questions You Can’t Ask When Conducting A Job Interview

Like any other business process, there are strict rules in place for what you can and cannot do while holding a job interview. Some are pure common sense, of course, but there are others which may surprise you. If you are a small business owner looking to hire some employees, make sure you are aware of these guidelines. They could prevent you from ending up in a hefty dose of trouble.

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How old are you?

Age has no bearing on a person’s ability to do a job, according to the law – other than if there is a legal requirement to be a certain age, such as bar work or an employment in a casino. If you ask this question, it opens up a huge can of worms, and you might be accused of ageism if they don’t get the job. It’s the same for a person’s sex. Your role might have been filled by men in the past, but that does not mean it is an exclusively male role. There are exceptions – but you will need special permission to advertise these roles as gender-specific.

Where is your country of origin?

According to the law, a person’s country of origin is immaterial when it comes to getting a job – it’s their eligibility to work in the UK that is important. It’s also worth considering that the same rules apply to religion or ethnicity – it should not have any bearing on that person’s ability to do the job, so is deemed an unfair and discriminatory question. Be wary when approaching these scenarios, as even if you bring it up in a conversational tone, you could end up in serious trouble.

Are you married with kids?

Again, it’s easy to slip up here, as when you meet people for the first time, it’s the kind of question you might ask them in a conversational tone. The interview situation needs to be completely sterile, and that includes asking questions about partners, children, or sexual persuasions and preferences. Instead, consider asking the interviewee if they will be available to work overtime, or can travel for work – as ultimately, these are the reasons you might be asking about home life.

Where do you live?

It seems innocuous enough to ask someone where they live. After all, the candidate might be a couple of hours away, and you could worry about their ability to travel so far to get to work every day. However, asking where a candidate lives leaves you open to a claim of discrimination. If, say, they live in an area populated by a particular ethnic group or social class, it’s a little easier to see why.

How is your health?

You cannot ask about a person’s health in the job interview – until you offer them a job. You should also be careful when it comes to asking questions about the number of sick days they took in their previous role. However, given that you might not be able to withdraw the job offer after the event, it poses a difficult scenario. Instead of asking about sick days, question them on how many unscheduled days of work they took off. This way, the issue is framed without reference to health at all.

Do you want a cigarette?

Even if you are trying to lighten the mood with a nervous candidate, never make a reference to cigarettes, alcohol, or lifestyle choices. Aside from it being none of your business, you will be leaving yourself open to claims of discrimination. You can lay out all the rules you like about behavioural expectations if you give them a job, But up until that point, what people do in their home or spare time has zero bearing on their ability to do a job for you.

Have you ever been in prison?

Once a criminal has served their sentence, there is no disclosure obligation when it comes to finding work. There are a few exceptions, of course – working as a teacher, childminder or in finance, for example. However, any criminal record checks required by the role – such as a DBS – should have taken place before the interview. In short, if you need to know a person’s criminal record, you should already have it – and the interview is not the setting that it should be discussed.
Have you ever been asked any of these questions in an interview setting? Or have you made the mistake of letting one slip while conducting an interview? Let us know about your experiences by getting in touch via the comments section.

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