No matter how hard you prepare and research for a job interview, you are likely to be nervous and always expect some difficult questions that may not be easy to answer and you’ll be keen to show you can think on your feet when any difficult questions arise.

Questions put to you during an interview should be asked to test your ability to carry out the role you have applied for.  However, sometimes you can be asked questions that make you feel uncomfortable.  Where an employer is asking questions about your age or other personal information and you feel uncomfortable answering something, don’t be scared to say so.  An interview is just as much about you getting an impression of the interviewer, potential employer and whether you would like the job.

Here is an example of some questions that an interviewer shouldn’t be asking you…

Are you married?

Questions about children, future family plans and marital status shouldn’t be asked.  It is unlawful for an employer or prospective employer to discriminate against an employee or candidate if the discrimination relates to certain protected grounds. One such ground is where you are married, single or in a civil partnership.  You are not obliged to answer this question and such a question may also be used to determine your sexual orientation which is also a protected ground.  If you are asked such questions, you may wish to say something along the lines of you like to keep your personal life separate from work.  An employer will be able to ask whether you have any commitments which may affect your ability to carry out the role.

Are you from the UK or Is English your first language?

An employer is legally obliged to check that an applicant is eligible to work in the UK but they should not be asking you questions relating to your religion, race or native language.  It is unlawful to discriminate on these grounds.  It is acceptable for an interviewer to ask you what languages you fluently write and speak where this will be connected to your ability to carry out the role applied for.

How old are you?

For most roles, your age shouldn’t affect your ability to carry out the role.  It is unlawful for a prospective employer to discriminate on the grounds of age.

Do you have any criminal convictions?

You are not obliged to inform an interviewer about criminal convictions that are spent.

How many days sick leave have you taken in a previous role?

Employers should avoid asking such questions as sickness and ill-health can be linked to disabilities and it is unlawful to discriminate against a candidate because of disability.  The occasions when an employer should be asking such questions is for the purpose of establishing whether you would require any reasonable adjustments to carry out the role if you have a disability.  Once a position has been offered, it is at that time that an employer should be making such enquiries.

These questions are only examples.  You could be asked a variety of questions and in different ways but most questions relating to your personal circumstances are unlikely to be appropriate as they are unlikely to concern your ability to carry out the job you have applied for.  If you are asked such a question, you may wish to ask them how this relates to the role in the first instance.

If you require any advice about the legality of questions you have been asked during an interview, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Farleys’ employment law team on 0845 287 0939 or email us here.