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Questions Not To Ask In Interviews

Questions Not to Ask in Interviews

When conducting a job interview, your questioning needs to be exceptional. There are questions not to ask in interviews to remain on the right side of the law and questions to ask to ensure you hire the very best job candidates.

Here we look at the questions that can’t be asked by an employer or recruiter. We also share good questions to ask in an interview, how to prepare for interviewing candidates, and the interview techniques and process.

Interview questions not to ask an interviewee

Discrimination is the core issue and set of questions you should avoid when you interview a person for a job. If the interviewer asks questions that could result in discrimination, your company could be investigated and be on the wrong side of the law.

To explain further, we will look at the interview questions and answers that should not form part of the employment conversation.


To be legally eligible for specific jobs, age is an appropriate question, such as in jobs where the employees serve alcohol. The candidate’s age can be clarified here, and the employer can ask for proof.

Outside of these circumstances, the interviewer should avoid this topic.

Questions to be avoid on the topic of age include; when did you complete high school? And, when did you graduate? These questions might seem innocent but put you on the wrong side of the law.


It is not discrimination to ask certain questions about the person’s address. An example would be, what is your current address? Another example is how long have you been at your current address?

Employers and the interviewer should not be interested in whether the person owns or rents their home or lives with other people.

Family status

You can ask the individual appropriate questions, such as if the person has commitments that would prevent them from working specific shifts. An example is, do you have obligations where you could not work weekends?

You should not ask about the person’s marital status, childcare arrangements, how many children they have, or their sexual orientation.

Further family questions to avoid include asking for the person’s maiden name. The answers to these lines of questioning could result in hiring decisions made on the basis of gender, creating an imbalance in the workplace.


An interviewer can ask candidates if they are eligible to work in the UK, if they can speak and write English, or are fluent in other languages. It is okay to ask about a native language only if it is relevant to the job.

Employers should not ask candidates for their national origin or ethnic background. It may seem obvious that the candidate in front of you has an accent and is likely from another geographical region. However, small talk around the topic should be avoided to ensure there is no reason for an applicant to suggest discrimination has taken place.

Emergency contact details

In the first interview, employers should not ask the candidate for emergency contact details. Employers and Human Resources should only ask for this information once candidates are employees and ready to start in their new position.


In addition to not asking about the candidates marital status and personal life, an employer should not ask an individual if they are pregnant or trying to start a family.

Employers can ask how long the individual plans to stay with them or in the position and if they have leave planned (which will cover maternity leave).

Religious observance

Employers should avoid illegal interview questions covering religion and religious holidays, which employees would view as discrimination.

Height and weight

It would be best if you did not ask interviewee’s how much they weigh or how tall they are. Although unlikely, a specific height or weight is not conducive to whether a job can be completed.

However, a minimum reach is a safety and operational necessity in some instances, such as flight crew. In this instance, create an accurate job description and ask the person if they can perform all of the functions described.

Health and disabilities

You not ask applicants if they have ever claimed sick pay, filed a compensation claim, or if they have a disability. Also, you should not ask how is your health?

Recruiters should avoid asking if the applicant drinks socially or has ever used illegal drugs. A legal alternative is to ask if they are able to perform the actions of the role well, and safely.

Further questions not to ask

Employers should not ask candidates if they have a criminal record or conviction. Having been arrested may not mean the individual is guilty of anything and could lead to racial discrimination.

It is also recommend to avoid asking if the candidate has a bank account, which could lead to hiring decisions made on their economic standing.

Good job interview questions

Good Interview Questions

Just as it is essential to avoid asking the wrong questions, it is vital that you ask the right interview questions to determine if the applicant can successfully complete the job and be a match for your company’s values and culture.

To begin, we highlight a series of questions that you can ask, where appropriate, covering some of the circumstances we reviewed in the questions not to ask section.

When relevant to completing the role, you could ask:

Are you over the age of eighteen?

What languages can you speak or write?

Do you have specific requirements to help you complete the role effectively?

Are there any reasons you know of that would mean you cannot legally complete this role?

Can you work on the schedule required for this role?

Can you travel, and are you available to work overtime?

What long term career goals do you have?

As you can see with these examples, it is often less a case of gaining the information you need to make a hiring decision, but the way topics are addressed and their validity.

We recommend preparing a set of questions before meeting with prospective talent, and sticking to it.

Don’t ask anything too personal and ensure all questions are relevant to the hiring criteria of the role.

Competency-based interview questions

Competency-based interviews are structured to test an applicant’s skills, competencies, and attitudes by presenting situational or behavioural scenarios.

The formatted interview structure is an excellent way for interviewers to gauge future performance and compare applicants.

Good competency-based questions include:

1. Tell me about a situation where you handled a conflict at work

2. Give me an example of when you led a team

3. Tell me about a recent success and how you overcame the task’s challenges

4. Describe a time when you had to cope with adversity

5. How do you influence people who think differently from you?

STAR interview technique

Considering the STAR interview method is good career advice for candidates to follow and interviewers to look out for. The candidate can show their preparedness by answering questions in a structured manner.

A well-prepared interviewee will respond to competency-based questions by discussing the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Interviewing preparation & job descriptions

Job Description

Job descriptions are an essential document for the interview process and can steer your conversation and create a structure where you can ask the same questions to all applicants and record an answer for each.

If you are preparing your interview questions and structure, we recommend that you begin with a job description template. The job details can then be used in job adverts and for creating an effective interview format.

Further vital preparation includes reviewing the candidate’s CV, preparing a company introduction, and identifying the next steps in the hiring process.

Resources for the hiring process

The interview process can appear complex, so we have put together a collection of resources that will help your interview preparation:

Questions to ask in an Interview

The above is not to be considered legal advice and is just our understanding of employment law. We accept no liability nor accuracy to the above.

Questions for job interviews FAQs

Questions at job interviews you should not be asked

If an employer asks if you are pregnant, what country you are from, if you are married, your height, weight, or age, then you should not answer these questions unless they relate to your ability to complete the job.

Illegal Interview Questions

A potential employer should not ask about race, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, children, or citizenship.
An employer can enquire if an individual is over 18, when they are required to be by law, such as when a worker will serve alcohol.

Are there exceptions?

Job interviewers can enquire about some of the topics discussed above if the information is a genuine requirement for completing the job.
If the company is concerned about how a candidate with a disability or health issue might carry out certain aspects of jobs, they can ask how they will perform the task.

What is pre-employment discrimination?

Pre-employment discrimination occurs when potential employers discriminate against a candidate during the recruitment process.
A candidate should not answer on topics highlighted here, should employers ask about them.

Can you ask a candidate how old they are?

Age discrimination is an issue, so our interview tips include refraining from asking about how old a person is.

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