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Eight in 10 interviewers have asked inappropriate questions during the recruitment process

Experts say hiring managers should be trained on proper interview practice

Hyper Recruitment Solutions recently conducted a survey of 2,000 UK employees and hiring managers, finding that 85 per cent of interviewers admitted asking ‘off-limits’ questions during the recruitment process. Almost one in five (19 per cent) jobseekers said they had felt mistreated during an interview.

Over half of hiring managers confessed they had asked a candidate whether they had children, while a further 51 per cent said they had asked whether somebody was married. Almost half (46 per cent) had quizzed candidates about the origins of their accents and a similar proportion (45 per cent) queried whether a jobseeker had grown up outside the UK.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, warned that a misdirected question could leave an employer facing a costly discrimination claim.

“Throughout the recruitment process, candidates are entitled to the same protections that employees are by the Equality Act 2010… If asked off-limit questions such as these, the applicant could potentially argue they were refused the role due to certain characteristics such as age, gender, relationship status or family plans, even if this wasn’t actually the reason,” he added.

Education is paramount for organisations seeking to avoid a potential discrimination claim, Holcroft warned. Almost half of hiring managers surveyed by Hyper Recruitment Solutions revealed they had never received formal training on the questions to ask during an interview.

“Steps should be taken to ensure that training is provided to all interviewers, encouraging them to keep any questions asked specifically related to the job opportunity and, by doing so, consider the applicant on their merits alone,” he said.

“All final decisions should be made solely by identifying if the applicant’s experience and skills match the requirements of the role.”

Founder of Hyper Recruitment Solutions, and former The Apprentice winner, Ricky Martin added official training should be mandatory across all business sectors to make sure recruitment processes were as fair as possible. “It’s 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,” he said.

“This research isn’t about suggesting the recruitment process is made easy for interviewees, but ensuring all prospective employees are given a fair and honest opportunity to secure a job based on their skills and ability – not their gender, personal decisions, or maternity/paternity choices.”

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  1. As a contractor I am routinely asked if I have a family, will I travel or work away from home so often that I just tell people my status and availability. I have been told, despite being a contractor that has worked around the country and internationally, that I have been turned down for work because I do not live locally I they can’t imagine someone being away from home for weeks at a time

    • The problem with inappropriate questions is that generally the result is that the candidate gets a negative response to their job application so the interviewer can cover up their mistake which may well be genuine. If the applicant has to be qualified for the job then surely the interviewer should have some training too – if only as a courtesy to those who have spent many hours filling in forms.

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