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Illegal Interview Questions

There are certain things that interviewers are not allowed to ask you during interview, for various reasons which we will explain. It’s a sensible idea to prepare for job interviews thoroughly, and make sure you are aware of topics you should not be asked about. Below is a list of some topics that interviewers are not permitted to ask about, and how you should reply if they come up.

Age

A prospective employer only needs to ask your age if you need to be over 18 for the job, for example if you’ll be selling alcohol. So for an office job let’s say, they do not need to know your age.

How you could answer?

I am over 18.

What they should have asked:

Are you over 18?

Illness

Previous illness will not affect your ability to do the job in question, so interviewers should not be asking about it, and indeed are not supposed to. They are allowed to ask if there are any special requirements you have that they would need to accommodate.

How could you answer?

Sickness was not a problem in my last role.

What they should have asked:

Are there any adjustments we would need to make in order for you to work here?

Race, religion or native language

Employers must ensure that all applicants are eligible to work in the UK, but they are not allowed to ask about race, religion, or native language. They might need employees to be able to speak a certain language fluently, or to a certain level, it does not need to be your native language. So if you can meet the requirements, and can provide proof that you’re allowed to work in the UK, then you have nothing to worry about.

The reason employers should not ask you about race, religion, or native language, is because it implies that these things would affect your ability to do the job. Obviously, it does not matter what religion you practice, what race you are, or what your native language is, as long as you can do the job.

How you could answer?

I am eligible to work in the UK, and speak English fluently.

What they should have asked:

What languages can you speak fluently?

Marital status

Questions to do with relationships, children, or family plans are personal and potentially discriminatory, so should be treated with caution. Not only that, information about your marital status, or sexual orientation has nothing to do with your ability to fulfil the role.

If you are asked a question about any of these things, you should be concerned, but try to deal with it as politely as possible.

How you could answer?

If it’s ok with you, I’d prefer to keep my personal life separate from my professional life.

What they should have asked:

Do you have any commitments that might affect your ability to do your job?

If you would like to learn more about interviews, the recruitment process or HR issues, check out these courses:

CV Writing and Interview Skills

Interview Skills

HR Management – Effective Hiring

Mastering Employee Hiring and Termination

October 16, 2017

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