INTERVIEWS / JUL. 02, 2013
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5 Inappropriate Questions You Should NEVER Ask

Interviewing candidates is an important part of the recruitment procedure, without which it is virtually impossible to hire an employee. It provides employers with the opportunity to ask potential employees questions related to their skills, experiences and educations, thus forming an informed decision with regards to their employability.

When interviewing candidates for a position, it is advised to follow the correct interview etiquette and procedure, making sure that the interviewee does not feel intimidated or uncomfortable. By introducing yourself and setting a comfortable tone, you are able to provide the interviewee with the time to acclimate and assemble themselves for the interview.

Ultimately interviews provide a medium of evaluating an individual’s suitability to the job position and company culture. It is therefore advised that employers refrain from asking inappropriate and illegal questions during the course of the interview to ensure that they do not face any negative ramifications.

Make sure that you ask appropriate questions that are illegal in no way. There are certain questions you should avoid at all costs, some of which are outline below:

#1 Age

Many employers ask candidates the age question for considerations of long term employment. It is to ensure that interviewees are over the age of 18 (legal age for working), however many employers ask the question to understand the years left until retirement. It is highly inappropriate to ask this question, it is therefore advised to phrase it so that you are not directly asking the age of the individual.

Don’t: “How old are you?”

Do: “Are you over the age of 18?”

#2 Nationality/Citizenship

It is illegal to find out the nationality of the individual during the course of the interview. This includes asking their native language, the period they have lived in the country and their citizenship status. If the job requires having specific work authorization, it is important to approach this question with caution as failure to do so can potentially lead to legal action.

Don’t: “Where were you born?”

Do: “Are you authorized to work in…?” Insert the country or region name.

#3 Religion

Asking about a candidate’s religion is not considered to be best practice in any industry, as a result of which it is highly recommended that you choose how you will word this question cautiously. The primary purpose of this question is to perhaps understand the employee’s holiday schedule or religious affiliations.

Don’t: “What is your religion?”

Do: “Are you able to work according to our required schedule?”

#4 Marital Status

Recruiters are not allowed to ask questions with regards to the candidate’s marital status or family status. Furthermore, you should refrain from inquiring about the number of children they have or whether they plan to have more – especially for female interviewees. This is considered to be a breach of personal life and it is highly inappropriate.

Don’t: “Do you prefer ‘Ms’, ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Miss’?”

Do: “Would you be willing to relocate?”

#5 Disabilities/Medical Conditions

According to the best practices in the industry, candidates are required to disclose certain information about disabilities and medical conditions that affect their work. It is illegal to ask questions in terms of the individual’s disabilities or mental illnesses.

Don’t: “How is your health?”

Do: "Are you able to perform particular duties that this position entails?"


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