4 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

Posted by Georgia Kirby on Sep 4, 2017 7:00:20 AM

A fundamental part of any business is recruitment.As an owner, you want to ensure you are choosing the right people to be part of your team.However, are you going about it in the correct way?Recruiting in the right way isn't always easy, due to the many legislation governs this area of workplace relations.


The biggest risk facing employers in the recruitment process is discrimination claims. While unfair dismissal claims is something employees only have access to after a certain length of employment, discrimination claims can be made by anyone, no matter if they're an actual employee for the company or just a candidate.

Due to this, the entire process of recruitment must promote equality and fairness. There must be no discrimination, either directly or indirectly, against any potential candidates.

4 Interview Questions to Avoid

1. Can You Please Provide A Photograph?

Think about what you are asking something, why and why would you need it? You shouldn't ever ask a candidate for a photograph because you are hiring someone based on their skills and experience, not looks. The only exception to this would be someone n the film or photography business, where certain physical features play a part in whether you get the job. However, for nearly all other jobs it doesn't matter the colour of someone's hair or skin.

2. How Old Are You?

This is a common mistake, as it shouldn't matter how old a candidate is. Their level of experience, can easily been identified based on their job history and qualifications. However, certain jobs may have a minimum age limit that does require one's age to be known. An example of this would be a job where you are working with alcohol.

3. Do You Have Any Disabilities?

Employers should be careful when addressing disabilities and should avoid sweeping questions related to any medical or mental health conditions. Instead, focus on what the role requires and what the duties will be. A good question to address this topic might be "are you aware of any medical conditions, whether physical or mental, which may affect your ability to perform the requirements of this role? If so, please describe." In doing this, it allows candidates to keep any medical conditions that do not pertain to their ability to do the job private, while also giving you enough information to judge whether they are physically capable to do what is required.

4. Do You Have A Criminal Record?

In some states and territories in Australia, criminal records are ground for discrimination. Therefore employers must be very careful when asking for this information from candidates. As previously mentioned, it should really only be asked if it will directly impact the candidates ability to perform the job, instead of as a standard default in the job application form.

Risks and Recommendations

Asking any of the listed questions, may form ground for discrimination under the Federal or State discrimination legislation. This risks a claim being filed that you didn't hire someone based on the existence or lack thereof, of a certain feature. Under current laws, the employer would then need to prove that the posed question:

  1. was not the overall deciding factor in the hiring process and
  2. did not influence your final decision in the slightest.

As not all employers keep documentation as to why a candidate was unsuccessful, proving both of these may be quite difficult.

It is recommended that you re-evaluate your recruitment process, including both the job application form and interview questions, in order to avoid possible discrimination claims. Implementing an equal opportunity policy would greatly compliment this process as well as provide guidance to your staff and business as to what is expected in terms of the fairness of the recruitment procedures.

Hot Tip: Tailor your Job Application Forms

Often job application forms contain generic, filler questions that don't actually relate to the job, industry or business at hand. Therefore, to minimise the risk of discrimination and to increase your chances of successful job applicants, these forms should be clear, unambiguous and relevant.

Topics: Firm News


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