Questions to avoid: Are you pregnant? Do you plan to have children in the near future? Are you married? Who would look after your children when you’re working? How many children do you have? What age are your children? Will this job clash with your family obligations? You’ve had a long-time off work, how do you think you will adapt to working full time?
Questions to ask: Instead, ask what hours the applicant is available to work and if they can work the hours stated on the job advert.
Questions to avoid: How old are you? How long have you been working? How many years do you intend to work before you retire? We usually have younger/ older people in this role, how do you think you will manage?
Questions to ask: Instead, ask questions that determine if they have the necessary experience and ability to do the role. If it’s a physical role, you can emphasise the physicality of the role, but this should be to all candidates, not just those you assume may be less capable.
Questions to avoid: Are you a UK citizen? How long have you lived in the UK? Is English your first language? What country are you from originally?
Questions to ask: Instead, ask if the applicant has the right to work in the UK.
The reason to avoid questions that centre around these topics are that family, age and nationality are linked to the protected characteristics of the Equality Act (2010) and therefore basing a recruitment decision on the answers, directly or indirectly, could be deemed discriminatory. The compensation for a discrimination at Tribunal is currently uncapped and the reputational damage of a case ever getting this far can be just as damaging.
The recruitment and selection process is one of the most common processes in which employers discriminate so if you’re currently recruiting and need help putting together your interview questionnaire, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure you have effective and complaint questions to find your next recruit!