Illegal Interview Questions

Job interview questions can be challenging, but what happens if the interviewer throws in a completely unacceptable – even illegal – question? Director of Norfolk accountancy recruitment company Big Sky Additions, Sam Holt, sets out the line which interviews cannot cross:

“Its perfectly reasonable to ask questions that help to determine the candidate’s ability to perform the role, but anything that digs for information beyond what is relevant to the role is not acceptable,” explains Sam, who recruits for full time and part time accountancy jobs in Norfolk.

The Equality Act 2010 replaces previous legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Race Relations Act (1976) and covers what employers and employees need to do to ensure their recruitment processes and the wider workplace provides a fair environment that complies with the law.

Examples of the interview questions that CANNOT be legally asked include:

1. What is your marital status?
2. Are you in a same sex relationship?
3. How old are you?
4. What’s your ethnicity or religion?
5. Are you pregnant or planning to start a family?
6. Who do you vote for?
7. Do you have a physical or mental disability?

“If the interviewer steps out of line and asks an unlawful question, the best thing to do is to keep your cool and politely decline, explaining that you don’t believe its relevant to your ability to perform the role,” suggests Sam. “This may cause the interviewer to realise their mistake and withdraw the question. If they are especially determined, they may opt to continue down that path by trying to explain why they believe the question is lawful. This could include, for example, a question about any physical disabilities which might directly affect your ability to perform computer based tasks in an accountancy job.”

It is unlawful for interviewers to discriminate against candidates on the basis of certain attributes and candidates have the right to refuse to answer any question they believe to be unlawful. “Don’t feel pressured,” explains Sam. “Be sure that you know your rights as a candidate ahead of the interview and stand firm if you feel the interviewer has overstepped the mark.”

For further advice about job interviews contact Sam on 01603 516254