Steer Clear of These Interview Questions

Please, please don’t think that just because you’re not a ‘corporate’ with an HR manager, that you can make the rules up when it comes to interviewing potential new members of your team.

Do this, and you risk falling foul of the law.

Sounds dramatic but I’ve seen it happen, and it nearly ruined his business. He recovered but it cost him dearly at a tribunal, and he could not get the time back that he spent defending the claim. (NB. It was after this event that he sought out expert help…hello, thanks for calling Your People Partners, how can we help you?”)

There are some interview questions which are just downright discriminatory.

Here’s what you need to avoid:

Steer clear of personal background information

This may include where they were born, their ethnic background or even religious affiliation. You should even go so far as to not mention an unusual first or surname in case it turns out being grounds for discrimination.

Although it is fine to ask about ethnic background through an application form, this should never be mentioned during an interview.


Please don’t ask them where their parents are from.

Or where their accent is from, or what their native language is.

You can’t ask about religious practices.


You are encouraged to ask whether your candidate is eligible to work in the UK.

You can ask them which languages they are fluent in.

Do ask whether they are able to work on the days that the role requires.

Children, marriage or sexual preferences

Do not ask about how many children they have, or whether they plan on having more.

Please, please don’t ask if they’re pregnant!

And certainly do not ask what their childcare arrangements are (usually someone who wants to work for you with children will have thought this through and can, of course, offer this info to you, but you cannot ask about it).

It is also not legal to enquire as to their marital status. This could lead you in big trouble. It can lead to discrimination depending upon an employer’s personal opinions on whether they feel it could make a difference to productivity.

It is also important to not mention anything about what the candidate’s sexual preference is.

You can ask them, however, whether they have any commitments which would impact on their ability to do the job.

I’ve had some awesome responses such as

‘yeap, I play for GB baseball team’


‘well, it likely won’t affect my ability to do the job as it’s a weekend commitment but I have a dog-walking business which I do to save up for our wedding next year, but it’s not something I want to do as a business’.

Gender or Age

Someone’s gender or age are out of bounds.

Avoid anything and everything that is related to whether the candidate is capable of fulfilling the role due to their gender or age.

Don’t ask questions such as how long the person considers they will be in the workforce either. This is considered to be discriminatory.

The only acceptable question to ask is whether the applicant is of the minimum age required to perform the role.

It is better to avoid straying into grey areas during interviews and know ahead of the meeting what you can and can’t do.

Call us on 0117 290 0208 if you need to run any interview questions by one of Your People Partners.

We’re here to help make your hiring process run more smoothly and be less costly, so reach out and ask for our help.

We can even tailor and design your recruitment process for you and your business which is a very cost-effective way to make sure you maximise the hiring process, and ensure you get it right (and legal!)

Find out more here about how we can help you.