Earlier this month the BBC’s LinkedIn page posed a question: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever been asked in a job interview? It garnered over 1,500 comments brimming with shocking, offensive, and just plain irrelevant interview questions. From, “what’s your favourite sandwich?” to “how many children do you have” the post highlights some pretty odd questions. As expected, the most common interview questions that feature in the post are sexist: Marriage, pregnancy, childcare, and unacceptable advances towards the interviewee. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the questions that you don’t have to, and shouldn’t, answer.
Any interview question that even remotely mentions sexuality is a question you should not answer. Questions such as, “are you gay?” or even the less direct ones like “do you have a partner and what is their name?” The latter reveals your sexuality and marital status which is illegal to ask for in interviews. According to Gov.uk, such topics are ‘protected characteristics’ are therefore increase the chance of discrimination occurring.
Any gender-related assumptions about job capabilities are also illegal. This covers any gender transformation process questions also. Moreover, questions that ask how you feel to work with a specific gender is unacceptable too.
Interviewers nowadays know that asking questions about age are illegal but that does not stop them from asking. They will word the question to create an educated guess such as, “how long have you been working for?”. However as Business Insider notes, interview questions can ask how long you’ve been working in a certain industry for.
Unless you are applying for a school or other public sector, interviewees do not have to tell potential employers are spend criminal convictions. Instead, they must treat the applicant as if the conviction has not happened. Refusing to employ somebody on the basis on a spent conviction is illegal and therefore irreverent to ask during an interview.
Finding out if you are a good culture fit is essential but interviewers can not do this by asking questions about your lifestyle choices. “Do you drink?” and “do you like to go out?” is an poor way to measure your cultural fit. You legally do not have to answer this question if you do not wish to. However, as Monster point out interviewers are legally allowed to ask you about current drug use. Beyond this lifestyle choices are out of bounds.
Firstly and most importantly, you can not ask someone if they have any health issues or disabilities. Recently, a blind man had his interview cancelled after the company decided they could not accomm.... This is clearly illegal according to the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. However, interviewers can legally ask you if you are capable of performing duties.
In addition, interview questions can’t ask how many sick days you have previously taken. While your health is in the company’s interest, you can refuse to answer questions that are too health specific.
Ultimately, it is your prerogative to answer interview questions. If you feel that the question is irrelevant or just straight up offensive you are completely in your right to not answer. However, if the question is merely a little odd it might be worth answering it anyway. It could be a personality test or just a silly question to keep you at ease!