Discrimination In A Job Interview

Discrimination In A Job Interview

2 June 2017

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Another day, another headline horror story about the recruitment process gone wrong. This week, the prize for ‘worst interview ever’ goes to a recruitment firm in Cornwall who asked a 37 year old candidate if they had “enough energy” for the demands of the job.

Yes, in 2017, ageism in the workplace is still rife – and it trickles down to a biased (conscious or not) interview process. The candidate in question was one Katherine Irvine, who took her experiences to the BBC news site.

She is quoted as saying: “It was a group interview and the interviewer commented that myself and one of the others were 'older'. There was a concern about us being able to work long hours.

“What do you think? Do you think you're too old?”

Duly informing the company’s HR department, Katherine was told that they were “shocked” that she had been subjected to such inappropriate questioning. Just to further underline this point – Making remarks about someone’s age is not okay, either at interview or in the workplace. It’s discrimination.

BBC News then went on to ask people who follow their LinkedIn page what the most inappropriate question they had ever been asked at a job interview was.

Responses included: “Twice I've had inappropriate remarks about the fact I live in a quite working class area of Essex. One told me I was not the kind of applicant they were expecting, given my postcode.”

“They asked if I was going to pregnant in the near future.”

“They asked if I was Jewish.”

"The interviewer said he was surprised I was white because he thought my name sounded black."

None of the examples above are ever acceptable – they should never be brought up in a professional interview situation. Any company that does so runs the risk of having legal proceedings brought against them on the grounds of discrimination.

The BBC news site also went on to cite a list of inappropriate interview questions:

  • Is English your first language?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • How old are you?
  • How many days were you off sick in your last job?
  • Do you have any criminal convictions?
  • What religion are you?
  • What are your sexual preferences?
  • Are you a trade union member?

These are not just silly questions such as “What type of biscuit would you describe yourself as?”, these are entirely unethical and discriminatory. They are illegal and you do not have to provide a response. In an age where workforces are being encouraged to celebrate diversity and inclusion, it should not matter what your status or background is.

If you ever find yourself facing such improper questioning, don’t be afraid to challenge it. Our recruiters fully prepare all of our candidates for job interviews, including guidance on legitimate questioning.



Written By Mary Palmer


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