Are your Interview Questions Illegal?

  • Refresh your memory on which questions are classed as discrimination in most EU countries.

Are your Interview Questions Illegal?

With 1 in 8 Europeans considering themselves as risk for discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, disability, their sex, sexual orientation, age, religion and beliefs, it’s fair to say that recruiters can do their bit to hire a varied workforce. Not hiring someone on any of these grounds is dodgy practice and the candidate can pursue legal action if they believe it’s the grounds for them not getting the job. So, before you tiptoe the line between genuine interest and breaking the law, refresh your memory on which questions are classed as discrimination in most EU countries.  

Illegal question: “Are you married?”

Alternative question: “Are there any current commitments which could affect your ability to do your job?” 

It is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of whether they are married, in a civil partnership or single. Additionally, do not ask questions on people’s sexual preferences. The candidate is entitled to their private life and the recruiter should be able to select a candidate based on their abilities to do the job alone. 

 

Illegal question: “Do you want/have children?”

Alternative question: “Are there any current commitments which could affect your ability to do your job?” 

It is illegal to discriminate against someone if they are pregnant, have children, or are planning to start a family. The candidate does not have to reply to questions along these lines and there may be push back if you do so. Best practise is to avoid this line of questioning and if the candidate brings up details show interest but politely change the subject to more neutral territory. 

 

Illegal question: “How old are you?”

Alternative question: “Are you older than 18?” 

This is acceptable when hiring for a job selling alcohol or tobacco products but it is illegal to discriminate against someone for their age. Sadly there is less interest in older candidates as companies seem to favour youth over experience and this can affect women more than men. Recruiters should look for knowledge and experience rather than birthdates to find the best candidates.   

 

Illegal question: “Are you disabled?”

Alternative question: “Do you have any specific requirements to be able to perform this job effectively?”

It is illegal to discriminate against disability in the recruitment process or in the workplace. However, you can ask about health and disability if you can make reasonable adjustments to assist the candidate in their interview or for future employment. 

 

Illegal question: “Are you religious?”

Alternative question: “Do the hours of work fit in with your religion?”

It is illegal to discriminate against religious preference or philosophical belief. A difference in treatment may be lawful in employment situations if belonging to a particular religion is essential to the job i.e. a Vicar or Imam. The candidate is legally entitled to express their religion in symbols or clothes as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to do the job. 

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© EuroJobsites 2022

EuroJobsites is a registered company number: 4694396 VAT number: GB 880 9055 04

Registered address: EuroJobsites Ltd, Unit 8, Kingsmill Business Park, Kingston Upon Thames, London, KT1 3GZ, United Kingdom

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