With over one million employees expected to apply for new jobs in the first two weeks of January there will of course be a larger number of interviews taking place than in any other month.

According to research by job sites TopCV and CV-Library a staggering three in four UK job seekers are asked the ‘off limit’ interview questions and research conducted in 2018 by Hyper Recruitment Solutions found that 85% of interviewers admitted to asking questions surrounding:

  • Marital status (38%)
  • Age (34%)
  • Criminal convictions (32%)
  • Disability and illness (25%)
  • Children and family planning (25%)
  • Place of birth of ethnicity (25%)
  • Lifestyle choices (19%)
  • Memberships or affiliations (14%)
  • Religion (12%)
  • Gender or sexual orientation (11%)

In line with ACAS organisations must be aware they have a responsibility to ensure that no unlawful discrimination occurs at any stage in the recruitment process on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, maternity, pregnancy, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Whilst there are occasions where questions should be asked, for example for health and safety reasons employers need to be very careful that they follow the Equalities Act 2010 otherwise they may face a claim in the employment tribunal.

Many claims for discrimination at the job application stage succeed due to employers being unable to defend their hiring decision – often due to a lack notes from the interview, or record of the steps taken in the selection process. This is particularly important where the short-listing process means that a large number of candidates are being reviewed. Remembering in a tribunal hearing some months or years after the interview why a particular hiring decision was made can be problematic if not impossible without the benefit of notes. The lack of notes may also allow a claimant to argue that in the absence of any other non-discriminatory reason for their rejection, their race, religion or other protected characteristic must inevitably have been taken into account. This is also a good reason for always interviewing in pairs (at least) so that whilst one person asks questions, the other can be noting down the responses.

If we can help you with recruitment or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

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