6 questions that you can’t be asked in an interview
When preparing for a job interview it’s important to review some standard questions like, what are your best qualities? Where do you see yourself in five years? And of course the old golden nugget, what’s your biggest weakness?
But have you ever stopped to consider the questions that you shouldn’t be asked?
While it’s natural for a hiring manager to test your experience and abilities, some lines of questioning can indicate discrimination. Here are just a few red flags that you should look out for.
How old are you?
”You look around my daughter’s age, are you in your twenties?” ”Do you think you’ll consider retiring anytime soon?” Uh, oh, warning lights should be going off in your head if you hear these phrases. Employers can ask about your age in many different ways. It doesn’t matter how they try to dress it up, you can’t ask any candidate how old they are it is as simple as that.
If this situation arises remember that you are under no obligation to answer their questions. You can politely decline to answer or move the conversation on to a more appropriate topic.
What they can ask: ”Are you over 18?”
Are you pregnant?
Sadly, discrimination against women continues to be an issue in the workplace. In fact, a YouGov survey for the Young Women’s Trust found that out of 800 HR decision-makers, one in seven would be reluctant to employ women they believed may go on to have children.
It’s important to remember that you should never be asked about children, childcare or family commitments in an interview. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, your family life is private and is not relevant to your ability to do the role. Even if you are planning on having kids soon, you do not need to share this information with an interviewer.
What they can ask: “Can you think of any personal reasons why you might not be suitable for this role?”
What is your religious affiliation?
Your religion (or lack thereof) is your business and nobody else’s. It doesn’t matter if you’re atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Christian, how you worship in your own time is up to you.
Hiring managers can not ask you about your beliefs as this may indicate prejudice or even discrimination. However, some interviewers will ignore this and inquire about religion to try and figure out your work schedule. Questions about whether you observe certain holidays or attend a place of worship have little to do with your job.
It’s also important that you do not bring up the topic of religion during the course of the interview. Leave your beliefs at the door and refuse to answer any questions about your faith.
What they can ask: “Do you know of any scheduling conflicts that may affect your work?”
How many sick days did you take at your last job?
Conversations around your health and wellness should always be avoided in an interview scenario. A potential employer does not have the right to know your medical history or if you are on any medication.
The only time this should be discussed is if the interviewer is trying to establish whether or not they need to make adjustments in order to accommodate your needs e.g. allow remote working or make your workplace more accessible.
What they can ask: ”Do you have any specific requirements in order to do this job effectively?’’
Are you disabled?
Legally, employers are not allowed to ask you about physical or mental disabilities at the interview stage. Instead, they can ask you about the things that you can or can’t do. For instance, they may ask you if you are able to perform all the roles associated with the job.
Once you are hired they may need to ask you questions about your disability in order to accommodate you adequately in the workplace. It is important to note that you do not have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable.
What they can ask: ”Are you able to carry out the necessary job assignments safely?”
What is your race?
A potential employer cannot question you about your race and ethnicity. In fact, implying that your nationality would affect your ability to do the job could indicate discrimination.
They do, however, have a legal right to know if you can speak the local language fluently as this might affect your ability to do your job. They will also need proof of your legal right to work in that country.
What they can ask: ”Are you authorised to work here?”