When you are interviewing, it is understandable that you want to know as much as possible on your future employee’s potential and we all have this natural curiosity about people personal’s life.
This curiosity can lead to legal issue and could be wrongly influencing the hiring manager. In reality there is a thin line between learning more about the candidate or asking inappropriate questions. That is why it is important for you to choose the right question for your interview but also to pay attention to the questions you should not ask before, during or after the interview.
On the other side, a candidate should know when the interview is going off track. This is the responsibility of both parties to know what type of questions can be asked or not.
Even if some aspects may vary across countries for example the question of salary, in some countries this is one of the first question interviewer would ask in some other, for instance in France, it is consider as rude if asked too early.
Let’s review the topic and the questions that you should not ask in an interview. One tip before we start, when you have a doubt about a question and you don’t have time to check, it is better to skip that question and come back later on it if necessary.
The first topic to avoid asking about is Religion. The question about religion should not be asked, this seems obvious but in some interview, questions like “Are you observing any religious day during the year” are asked. Even if you would like to know with good attention to plan etc. You should also avoid directly asking the following: if “Are there any days that you cannot work during the week or week-end? this could be perceived as a intended question about religion.
Questions like, “Would you like to have children?” Or “Are you planning on being pregnant in the next few years, or is your wife pregnant?” All those questions can be very discriminatory. This is also a hot topic as we know that for many years and still today women could be refused a job on the aspects of their pragnancy.
Race, Color or National Origin
You should not ask a job candidate “Where do you come from?”, this implies that you want to know and locate this person on a map. Even if you are yourself from a different country than the one you are currently working in. This question can easily be heard in small talks, but it is not to be asked as they imply defining the origin of the candidate.
Sex, Gender, Identity or Sexual Orientation
All those questions concerning sex, gender, identity or sexual orientation are not to be asked in a job interview as it also implies personal information about the job candidate.
Asking about disability may need to be necessary in some jobs, but the question should not be asked directly as here the candidate may need to feel obliged to tell you all information in the event of disability that are not relevant for the job position.
Instead if you need for the position to understand if the candidate can perform all the tasks, you can describe all the function and ask if the candidate can perform all of them.
Age, Genetic information
The question of age is a tricky one. However, a job should not be given based on age but on experience and skills. You should also pay attention to some questions that would indirectly give you information about the age of the candidate. For instance, “What year have you graduated?” Or “When was your first job experience?”.
Company will need to have employees who have the right to work in the country, you may need to ask at some point in the interview if the employee has all necessary document like visa for instance, so you can ask the question about the document but you should not ask questions like “Are you a European Citizen?
Marital Status, Number of children
Those questions, “How many children do you have?” Or “Are you married? are also questions that are personal and irrelevant for a job position. Those can easily come into small talks before the job interview or after, so unless the job candidate deliberatly tell you about it, as an employer you should not ask.
Another hot topic in the job interview that should not come up is questions about sickness, for instance “how many sickness days have you had last year?” This type of question are also prohibited because they imply personal information about the candidate and can influence your judgment for wrong reasons.
Legal/ Arrest Record
Asking the job candidate: “Have you ever been involved with legal?” or “Have you been dealing with police/ justice? are also questions not to be asked during a job interview unless the job requires it and you have the legal authorization to verify this aspect of a job candidate.
Any questions related to politics or questions like “Who did you vote?” are not welcome at a job interview. Politics also belongs to personal information of a job candidate.
We have listed the most obvious topics so far, but there are other questions/ topics that you should pay attention to while running a job interview:
Address: asking about the address of the job candidate.
Conviction: unless the job is security sensitive.
Credit Inquiries: auestions about credit, do you have a bank account, do you own a home?
Emergency contact: should only be asked once the candidate is hired as it can give you information about children or marital status.
Financial status: like do you own a car?
Height or weight: or making a comment on one of those 2 aspects are also touching the personal environment of the job candidate, “You are tall” for instance.
Military service: this question can also implies personal information on the job candidate, revealing conviction or age in some instance.
You need to consider that some countries are more flexible on the type of questions that are allowed or not. However, you should always as an interviewer focus on what will make the job candidate a good fit to your team or your company. Any personal information, questions that could influence your choice for the wrong reasons should not be asked at a job interview.
Following this, is much more easy during the job interview than during the small talk happening before or after the interview. Pay attention during the whole time that you are with the job candidate as it is your responsibility to make sure you only ask questions that are relevant to the job position and more importantly that are legal.