Prohibited questions

The following questions are not allowed by law although many employers still ask them. It is up to the candidate to answer them or side step any prohibited interview questions.

  • Do you have a disability?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What is your religion?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Are you married?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your ethnic group or race?

The above questions can all be used to discriminate against candidates and as such need not be answered.

Which types of questions are legal ??

Questions related to the function of the job for instance driving ?

  • do you have a valid driver's license?
  • Questions regarding your experience and competency

    • Character and personality traits
    • Knowledge testing
    • Skills assessment
    • Education related questions.

    Do I have to disclose a disability?

    The withholding of information that can have a direct bearing on your ability to perform in a specific job can lead to you being fired legally. It is thus better to disclose information, rather than withholding it.

    If I were unemployed for a period due to disability, should I answer the question about the gap in my work history?

    Any question that can lead to discrimination is in effect prohibited, but asking about a gap in your work history as such is not illegal although technically it will lead to disclosure of the information about your disability. You thus need to decide how to answer the question without the possibility of being discriminated against.

    Unlawful discriminatory questions regarding disabilities include:

  • When did you last visit the doctor and what was the reason?
  • Have you ever claimed for disability?
  • If a prohibited question is found on a job application form, should I report it or just not complete the form?

    You can leave the space blank and notify the specific manpower division in your country about the question and ask them to keep your identity hidden.

    If I refuse to answer prohibited interview questions, and as a result don't get the job, what should I do?

    You can approach a human rights or labor law attorney, but keep in mind that it is rather difficult to proof that you didn't get the job based on your refusing to answer the prohibited questions.

    If I wasn't hired because of discrimination on the grounds of a disability how do I proof it?

    It is rather difficult but you must prove that you are disabled, qualified and experienced as well as fit the profile for the job perfectly. The employer needs to prove proof that the decision was made on other grounds than your disability. This also counts for any other base of discrimination whether it is on the grounds of race, color, sex, etc.

    Age related prohibited questions include:

  • How old are you?
  • What is your birth date?
  • What was the date of your graduation?
  • When an employer structures these questions in the following ways they are still legal:

  • Are you over 21 years?
  • Will you be able to provide proof of your birth date after a job offer is received?
  • Marriage related questions that can be used to discriminate against women include:

  • Are you in a long term relationship?
  • Do you plan a family soon?
  • How many dependants do you have?
  • How does your husband feel about you applying for this job?
  • Are you expecting a baby?
  • Legal ways of structuring these questions include:

  • Do you have responsibilities that will interfere with job attendance?
  • Will you be able to travel?
  • Will you be able to work after hours?
  • Can you work over weekends?
  • Do you have responsibilities that can prevent you from participating in team building events over weekends?
  • Questions regarding personal physical traits are prohibited unless the job requires a specific physical capability. Prohibited questions include:

  • What is your weight?
  • What is your length?
  • A legal alternative is for example:

  • Will you be able to carry a bag full of .. that weighs ..?
  • Nationality, race, or ethnic group discrimination questions include:

  • What is your nationality/ethnic group affiliation/ race?
  • What is your home language?
  • Alternative legal ways to structure these questions include:

  • What language skills do you have?
  • Can you legally work in ... this country?
  • Questions about criminal convictions

    An employer may not discriminate against a candidate based on past unrelated criminal convictions, but may refuse employment based upon a current criminal conviction or pending judgment. The employer may also refuse employment if the past conviction is directly related to the type of job applied for.

    Army questions

    An employer may not ask the reason for discharge, but may ask questions related to military service. An example of a prohibited question is:

  • Explain the circumstances around your discharge of ...
  • Membership of organizations

    Questions regarding affiliations are prohibited if the intention is discrimination. Examples of prohibited questions include:

  • What church group do you belong to?
  • Do you belong to...?
  • Legal alternatives include for example:

  • List memberships of clubs, professional and cultural organizations.
  • Discrimination based on religion

    An employer may not discriminate against a candidate on the grounds of religious affiliations which limit the days of a week that an employee may work. The employer can however, refuse employment if those specific days are vital for business operation. All the questions referring to religion are prohibited. An employer can enquire whether the candidate can work on specific days.