Inappropriate Questions for a Job Interview – What You Should Never Ask Candidates

When talking from the perspective of the employer or recruiter, preparing job interviews involves a lot of things that need to go by the book. An important component is the questions addressed to candidates during interviews, although there are many other things to be careful with. Why is it so important to choose the right questions? Because trying to find out certain things about a candidate is immoral, unethical, and in some countries asking some questions or conditioning the employment on the responses received is illegal.

As expected, employers will always want to identify and choose the right candidates to fill certain positions. Thus, we can easily breach the fragile boundary between what is allowed and what is not recommended and should never be discussed in an interview. Also, the desire to discover more about the candidates and to choose capable people who can cope with certain requirements imposed by the job can lead recruiters or employers to penetrate the private life with particular topics. The interviewee can identify an inappropriate question, his interest in the job will decrease, and the employer may even lose a good candidate.

Therefore, the candidate should not be addressed questions about race, color or nationality. If we are talking, for example, about a modeling job or artistic activities that involve playing roles for which physical appearance must fall into certain patterns, a more suitable method would be to include a line in the applications where candidates could voluntarily describe some of their traits. Also, a decent alternative for issues related to nationality would be to ask the candidate if he is eligible to work legally in the country where the employer operates.

Questions related to sexual orientation, religion or political preferences are also not recommended. When you want to find out whether a candidate would be willing to work during certain religious holidays, the best thing would be to speak about this directly, explain to him that the job involves a high seasonality, and that could be asked to work during certain periods of the year. Also, when the recruiter or employer thinks that potential employee could refuse to perform certain tasks, it would be recommended to give them some detailed and precise example of duties, and ask if fulfilling such duties might oppose with their personal choices and beliefs.

Accordingly, it is unrecommended to put questions about the candidates’ marital status, the number of children and their ages or who takes care of them. When talking about female candidates, it is inappropriate to ask them if they plan to have children soon. Typically, these questions arise when it comes to positions that involve shift work, working on weekends and outside business hours, because this could raise difficulties for people who have specific personal or family needs. In this case, the best thing would be to stipulate whether the program involves shift work, to specify the working hours, how often an employee should do these shifts and ask the candidate whether he could do it or not.

Other questions that candidates shouldn’t be asked are those related to height, weight, disability, age or health problems, as these are issues related to personal life. If the employer wants to know if a person can perform certain tasks he can tell the candidate that the job involves some physically demanding activities, provide him detailed examples and ask him if he could work in these conditions. Instead, what the employer should not ask the candidate is the number of sick days he had during the previous year or if he is a person gets sick frequently.

In conclusion, an employer who wants to tell if it is appropriate or not to talk about certain topics during an interview should ask himself a question: What relevance the answers to these issues have for the open position? Therefore, interview questions should focus on the candidate’s skills and on the experience that is relevant to the responsibilities that the new job would involve.