Survey shows many interviewers are guilty of inappropriate questioning

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85% of interviewers have admitted to asking off-limits questions during interviews, according to new research by Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS).

The science and technology recruitment specialists investigated the treatment of interviewees and the knowledge of interviewers, providing an insight into the interviewing process across 1,000 hiring managers and other people who have been involved in interviewing candidates.

Confusion over what is appropriate, or even legal, in an interview setting is common among interviewers, with 77% of those surveyed saying that they do not think it is potentially illegal to ask candidates whether they plan to go on maternity/paternity leave.

Employers and those conducting interviews should be aware of employment law and ensure that their questions are not discriminatory and therefore illegal.

Questions involving race, religion, age, disability and lifestyle choices should be avoided. Also, any questions which might be interpreted as sexual discrimination, including marital status, current or future children and sexual preferences/orientation are off-limits. And while employers do have the right to ask candidates about criminal convictions, candidates do not have to divulge criminal convictions that are spent unless it relates to the role in question (such as education, working with vulnerable people or senior financial roles).

In very rare circumstances, employers can cite ‘genuine occupational requirements’ (GOR) as a reason to discriminate, if they can prove that certain requirements are critical for the job. For example, if it is an acting job and the role requires a certain gender or ethnic background, or in certain welfare services (such as a women’s domestic violence refuge).

This research also highlights an acute lack of interview training. Only 36% of staff at junior level said that they had received interview training, and 56% at director level, which might explain why so many interviewers get it wrong.

Ricky Martin, Managing Director of HRS said of the results of the survey, “Official training should be mandatory across all business sectors for anyone involved in the process of interviewing prospective candidates… It’s also really important a light is shone on what is and isn’t acceptable in the recruitment process to give prospective employees the best possible chance of success at the interview stage.”