It is always important to ask questions of a potential employee. How else will you know if they are the right fit for your business otherwise?
However, you should ensure that your questions don’t delve too deep into the potential employee’s personal details. After all, you don’t want a discrimination case brought against you, even if you did not intend to discriminate.
Therefore, it is important to know what questions are a definite no-no. So, here goes: –
- Are you married?
Any questions about marital status, children or future family plans are simply not permissible.
Such questions are too much of a personal nature and could even be potentially discriminatory. Asking a potential employee if they are married could be seen as trying to determine their sexual orientation and this has absolutely no bearing on whether they have the ability to do carry out the job or not.
- Were you born in the UK?
Yes, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your employees are eligible to actually work in the UK. But you should not ask questions about their race, religion or native language.
A question of whether or not English is the potential employee’s first language is irrelevant, even if your employees are required to speak fluent English.
If the potential employee can speak and write in English to the standard that you require, and they can provide proof of their legal right to work in the UK, then they may well be the perfect person for your business.
- How old are you?
This question might seem innocent enough, but there are very few reasons why you need to know a potential employee’s age.
Yes, some businesses require their employees to be a certain age for legal reasons, i.e. to sell alcohol, but otherwise, a potential employee’s age should not affect their ability to carry out the job effectively.
Instead, you can ask the potential employee for their date of birth on a separate Equal Opportunites Form, but remember that the interviewer is not be allowed to see this.
- How many sick days did you take in your last job?
Questions along the lines of health, sickness or indeed disabilities should always be avoided at all costs.
The only time you may need to ask such questions is if you need to find out if the potential employee might need an assessment to establish their suitability for the job, or to establish whether adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate their needs (e.g. fitting a lift or disabled toilet).
- Do you have any previous criminal convictions?
Potential employees are not required to advise of any criminal convictions if they have already served their sentence.
Therefore, you should not ask such questions, nor refuse employment because of a previous crime. The only exception to refusing employment is if the position relates to teaching, childminding, financial matters etc.
Remember that criminal records checks can be requested from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for certain roles (e.g. working with children, healthcare etc). However, these should be requested before the interview stage.
- Are you a member of a trade union?
The Government website advises that an employer must not use the fact that a potential employee is a member of a trade union for or against them when deciding whether they are suitable for the position or not. This includes not employing them because they are a trade union member, or insisting that they join a trade union before you offer them the job.
The above questions are the big red flag ones that should not be asked of a potential employee during an interview. If you would like any further information on what you can and cannot ask or any other Employment Law query please get in touch via our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk