Employment Law – interview don’ts

Employment Law – interview don’ts

Employment Law – interview don’ts

There are lots of things that legally shouldn’t be asked when interviewing someone for a job. The problem is, we can all get carried away having a nice chat and ask something we shouldn’t for no other reason than wanting to get to know someone better and not to hold the answer against them.

We have broken down below some of the main topics and questions to avoid and how you should be obtaining information:

  • Are you from the UK / is English your first language?

There is a legal obligation for employers to check a person’s right to work in the UK, however, any questions around this subject cannot be a specific question about race, religion, nationality or first language.

If a specific job role requires speaking a certain language fluently to be able to complete the job, that can be discussed but it shouldn’t matter if it is a first language or where the person comes from as long as they can meet the required standards for the job.

In this instance, you could ask all applicants for the role to complete an exercise relating to the job role using that language in written or verbal form.

  • Are you married?

A person’s marital or family status or situation should not be asked about in an interview. Asking could be misconstrued as discrimination if that person then doesn’t get the job.

The same goes for asking about a person’s sexual orientation.

You could, however, ask a candidate if they have any current commitments that could affect their ability to do their job or impact their attendance at work.

  • How old are you?

There are very few reasons you should need to know the age of a candidate and if you ask it could be seen as age discrimination. Age should never be used as a reason to employ or not employ someone.

The only time you are able to ask any age-related questions is if the job role legally requires someone over the age of 18 to do it. In which case you just need to know they are over 18 and not their specific age.

  • How many days absent have you had in your last or current job?

You cannot ask a candidate about sickness, health or disability in an interview. You can ask the same question we have featured above ‘if they have any current commitments that could affect their ability to do their job or impact their attendance at work?’.

You can also ask ‘Do you have any specific requirements in order to perform this job effectively?’

Then, once a job offer has been made you are able to ask them about specifics, adjustments or adaptations they might need in the workplace.

  • Do you have any criminal convictions?

Candidates do not have to disclose any spent criminal convictions and employers cannot refuse employment to anyone due to previous crimes unless they relate to the job role.

You can ask ‘Do you know of any reasons why you may not legally be able to take this position?’.

Other questions to be avoided: Are you a smoker? Do you have children? Are you in debt? Are you a trade union member?

There are other questions to avoid, but these are the easy traps to fall into if you are not careful.

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