4 Interview Questions You Should Never Ask Employees

Recruitment is a fundamental part of any business. You want to choose the right person to become part of your team. But are you going about it in the right way? What are the interview questions you should and shouldn’t ask? 

Discrimination in the workpalce

Discrimination claims are one of the biggest risks when recruiting new employees. Unlike unfair dismissal claims, which employees only have access to after a certain length of employment service, discrimination claims can be made by any individual, whether an employee or just a candidate.

Therefore, the entire recruitment process must promote fairness and equality and not discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against a potential candidate or class of candidates.

4 Interview Questions to Avoid:

1. Can You Please Provide A Photograph?

Think about what you are asking, and why. You should never ask for a photo of the candidate. Why would you need one? You’re not going to hire someone based on their looks. The only exceptions apply if you work in the film making or photography, where certain physical features are inherent to the role. But for most jobs, it doesn’t matter what hair or skin colour someone has.

2. How Old Are You?

Asking for age is a common mistake. Again, why should it matter how old a candidate is? You can ascertain a person’s experience by looking at their job history and qualifications. However, there are of course exceptions to this rule, for certain jobs which require a minimum age such as those relating to working with alcohol.

3. Do You Have Any Disabilities?

Be careful when asking about disabilities, and avoid sweeping questions relating to any and all medical or mental health conditions. Focus on what the particular role requires, and what the core duties will be. A good question might be “are you aware of any medical conditions, whether physical or mental, which may affect your ability to perform the inherent requirements of this role? If so, please describe.” This allows candidates to keep private any medical conditions that have no bearing on their ability to do the job, but provides you with sufficient information to determine whether a candidate is physically able to do what you are asking of them.

4. Do You Have A Criminal Record?

Some states and territories in Australia have made criminal records into a ground for discrimination, so employers should be careful when asking about a candidate’s criminal history. Again, it should only be asked where it has a direct impact upon the candidate’s ability to do the job rather than as a standard default in the application form.

Risks and Recommendations

Any of the questions listed about could form grounds for discrimination under the Federal or State discrimination legislation. This would then put you at risk for a claim that you didn’t hire a candidate because of the existence, or lack of, that feature. Under the current laws, the burden would then be on the employer to prove this that the question:

a) was not the deciding factor in your hiring process and
b) had absolutely no influence on your decision at all.

Proving both of these can be difficult, especially as not all employers document exactly why a candidate is unsuccessful.

We recommend that you re-evaluate your recruitment process, including your job application form and interview questions, to avoid discrimination claims. An equal opportunity policy would complement this process, providing guidance to your business and staff as to the expected fairness of the recruitment procedures.

Hot Tip: Tailor your Job Application Forms

Job application forms often contain generic questions which don’t actually pertain to the job, industry or business in question. To minimise discrimination risks, as well as increasing your chances of a successful candidate, your job application forms should be clear, unambiguous and relevant.

Ever in doubt? When you are a client of HR Assured, you can speak to one of our qualified Workplace Relations Specialists through our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service line. If you would like to learn more, contact us or call us on 1300 345 875