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Know your rights! 7 Illegal Interview Questions

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by Sally Horwood

over 1 year ago

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Preparing for an interview is stressful, there are hundreds upon thousands of questions that you could be asked, and usually there isn't too much time to prepare. Although knowing what your interviewer might ask would be a god send, knowing what they can’t ask can help ensure that you’re not caught in a difficult or awkward situation. Employers are entitled to gather as much information about you as possible, but if it’s related to your age, race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or related to past illegal behaviour then it is off limits. Below are some questions that it is illegal for interviewers to ask:

HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED?

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An employer cannot ask about your criminal record but can ask if you’ve been convicted for a crime. Legally, a conviction record can’t automatically disqualify you from a role unless it relates to the role, specifically.

WHAT RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS DO YOU PRACTICE?

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Employers may ask this to determine your work schedule, but it also reveals religion and is therefore illegal.

ARE YOU MARRIED OR DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN?

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These questions may be asked to again determine your work schedule, but they reveal marital status and sexual orientation. It is also illegal to deny someone work on the basis of having children (or planning to).

WHAT IS YOUR NATIONALITY?

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It is illegal to enquire about national origin, even if you have an accent. However, employers can ask about your working rights.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED ILLEGAL DRUGS? medications-cure-tablets-pharmacy-56612-large

An employer cannot ask if or when you’ve used drugs but can ask if you are currently using illegal drugs. Obviously, some roles require a clean bill of health and according to the Fair Work Act, a medical assessment (including drug tests) is legal if it is considered to be reasonable.

HOW OLD ARE YOU?

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This one is obvious, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age. The only circumstance where an employer could ask is if they were offering an award wage, the level of which could be age related, for example if you are under 21 years old.

DO YOU DRINK OR SMOKE?

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Whether you do or you don’t is completely irrelevant as both are not illegal activities. However, if you light up or get smashed in the office, then that IS an issue!   If you’re asked a question similar to the above, then there are several ways to deal with the situation. Although it is difficult, you can refuse to answer the question or end the interview. If the questions are indicative of the company’s vision and policies, you’re better off finding out sooner rather than later. 

Alternatively, you can address the intent of the question whilst avoiding the substance (for instance, outlining your available working hours rather than revealing if you need to drop your children to school). people2people recruits the best talent on the basis of skills and experience. 

We are aware of the law and we are able to educate our hiring manager/clients and candidates to avoid situations which are discriminatory. If you are unsure of whether a question is illegal, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below or by calling 1300 121 727.

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