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Best Practices For Interview Questions

Published: Thursday 28th February 2019

New employment and anti-discrimination legislation mean that it is more important than ever that recruiters and HR personnel to be meticulous when it comes to their recruitment policies – especially when it comes to interview questions.

While every recruiter should thoroughly prepare a set of interview questions and notes in advance of each job interview, now it’s important to make sure those questions do not fall foul of the Equality Act, employment law or any other legal requirements.

Job interview - recruiter asking questions

The Equality Act of 2010 makes it illegal for any recruiter to discriminate against potential employees, based on sex, age, gender orientation/reassignment, race,

faith, relationship status or pregnancy. The exception is ‘objective justification’ based on the duties of the role. For example, if a construction firm is looking to hire a labourer then it’s reasonable to request that candidates be fit and able-bodied.

Ask the right interview questions…

It’s clear to see how it might be easy to breach the terms of the legislation during a typical job interview, which is why preparation is so important. Simply by asking interview questions in a different way, you can secure the information you need and avoid asking details about someone’s personal life or circumstances.

One area where things can go wrong is during small talk before or after an interview. It’s important here not to enquire about birthplace or origin. An ethnic background should never be brought up in an interview. So, for example, instead of asking, ‘where are you from?’ the recruiter could ask: ‘Are you eligible to work in the UK?’ Or, rather than enquiring about religious holidays, ask ‘are there any days you can’t work?’

Likewise, asking ‘Are you available to work overtime at short notice?’ means you can avoid asking about any family or childcare commitments the candidate might have.

Friendly female colleagues having good relationships, pleasant conversation at workplace

…avoid the wrong interview questions

Never ask age-related questions such as, ‘how old are you?’, or ‘when are you planning to retire?’ Even asking ‘when did you graduate?’ can be viewed as an attempt to ascertain age, and, as such, discriminatory.

Location-based questions can be problematic too. Asking how long someone’s commute might be, could be perceived as trying to find out where they live. Everyone has a different idea of how far they want to travel to work, so instead, ask ‘are you able to start work at 9am?’

People waiting for the train at subway station.

Another area where hirers need to be careful is when it comes to lifestyle choices. While an employer can set rules regarding conduct at work, what an employee does in their free time is up to them. Avoid questions about smoking, alcohol consumption, political affiliations and membership of any groups. By all means ask about hobbies, as this gives the candidate the opportunity to explain how outside interests might be applicable to the role.

Another grey area is questions about height or weight. Instead of asking, ‘how tall are you?’ or ‘how much do you weigh?’, ask questions that specifically refer to tasks that need to carried out as part of the role, such as, ‘would you be able to reach items one of the top shelves in the store?’

As a Zoek Hirer, we’re here to help you with any aspect of recruitment on our site. if you have any further questions about interviewing candidates, please get in touch with our sales team on 01 565 745528.

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