How to answer illegal job interview questions — what recruiters cannot ask?

Haris Khan
May 16, 2018 · 3 min read

Watch this video to learn more and read the article

Employers use a job interview as a way to find out how suitable you are for a role. The main purpose of interviewers is to get an insight into your personality, competencies, capabilities, and achievements. For you, it’s an ideal opportunity to discuss your skills and expertise.

But what kind of questions are recruiters and hiring managers allowed to ask?.

The questions you are asked should relate to your ability to perform the essential needs of the role. Behaviors are relevant to perform many jobs and questions that determine relevant character to a particular job like “Provide an example of a time you overcame a problem”) are ok to ask.

“Section 107 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 provides that a person must not request or require another person to supply information that could be used by the first person to form the basis of discrimination against the other person,” says an expert. “For example, a person should not be asked to supply information around their age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality. The reason questions relating to these factors are unlawful is for the simple fact that these factors are not relevant to an employee’s ability to perform a job.”

An exception to Section 107 is in section 108 of the Act and this allows such information to be requested if the information is reasonably required for a non-discriminatory purpose. Such as, if a person was applying for a role at a warehouse that required heavy lifting, it would be lawful for the employer to ask about a physical disability as it may affect the candidate ability to perform heavy lifting.

It is unlawful at the federal level under the Fair Work Act 2009 to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis of their race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

Questions that seek information beyond what is relevant to the job are not permissible.

Let’s find out Questions that employers can’t legally ask

· Are you in a same-sex relationship?

· How old are you?

· What’s your ethnic background?

· What religion are you?

· Are you pregnant or planning to start a family?

· Who do you vote for?

· Do you have a physical or mental disability?

What you can do if you are asked a question that is illegal or you think is not relevant

It’s hard to refuse to answer a question when you are eager but here is what you can do

If an interviewer steps out of line and asks an unlawful question, politely decline to answer the question on the basis that the answer is not relevant to your ability to perform the role. Ideally, this response will cause the interviewer to realize their misstep and withdraw the question.

By politely responding to what you think is an illegal question, it may also encourage the employer to explain why they think the question is relevant to the job.

It is your right to not answer a question on the basis of discrimination, and candidates should stand firm if they are being asked unlawful questions

Job interview success depends on how you have prepared yourself. Take your time to research relevant interview questions and the employer.

The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence. Blake Lively

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