If you are or have been a Hiring Manager or a member of an interview panel, chances are that you have almost caught yourself, more than once, tempted to ask a candidate something a little off-topic that would have helped you better understand his/her background. But you also stopped yourself because you weren’t sure if that was allowed in the list of questions a candidate needs to answer for a job interview. You probably had your intentions in the right places but turns out there are a lot of questions that interviewers must completely avoid when trying to assess the fitness of a candidate for any role.
As one of the most experienced recruitment agency in the UK, we have put together a little list of the top 6 questions you as an interviewer must refrain from asking when seated right across a candidate. Some of them may actually surprise you. Here’s the heads up.
Address: Who do you live with?
While it’s perfectly okay to ask a candidate where he lives and how far is it from his work location, it is not okay to ask if he/she lives in a rented property or a house/apartment that he/she owns. And it is definitely not okay to ask who he/she lives with and how they might be related.
Family Planning: Are you planning to have a family?
A candidate must never be asked if he/she is planning to get married or get pregnant. You might get a chance to discuss this subject with him/her if after you extend the offer letter, you are having a discussion with them about the provision for health coverage under the organization’s policy that could be extended to his/her family. But in all other scenarios, this question is a Big No.
Age: How old are you?
This one might surprise quite a few recruiters and HR managers out there who might have casually slipped this question in many interviews in the old days. Turns out any direct question that indicates that you wish to discriminate against the candidate on the basis of his/her age is off limits. Except in cases where you need to ascertain if the candidate is over 18 or 21 years of age (the legal age to work for many roles), interviewers must refrain from asking candidates about their age or year of graduation or anything on similar lines.
Weekend Stretch: Are you open to working during the weekends?
No one really looks forward to working on weekends. But that is hardly the reason why this question is considered unpopular. Directly asking a candidate about his/her willingness to work during the weekends or nights can be seen as a proxy question for religious observance. Questions about evening work can impact women who might have childcare responsibilities.
Citizenship or Origin: Are you British? Do you have a birth certificate to prove that?
This one might be a little tricky as all employers must conduct a background check to ensure that the candidate is legally allowed to work in the UK. So while it may be okay to ask about visa/work permit documents, it is not okay to ask what nationality the candidate is or where he/she was born. Asking questions like ‘Where are your parents from?’ or ‘How do you know English so well?’ are definitely questions you must avoid.
Sexual Orientation: What gender do you identify as?
As employers and businesses working towards building a more inclusive and open work culture, you must not ask any candidate questions relating to his/her sexual orientations or preferences or gender.