1 in 5 HR managers have asked illegal interview questions

Twenty per cent of HR managers put their organizations at risk of a discrimination case simply because they’re under-informed.

A recent survey has revealed a shocking number of HR professionals are under-informed about what they can legally ask in an interview.

More than 2,100 HR managers across a range of industries participated in the study by CareerBuilder and twenty per cent admitted they’d asked an out-of-bounds question without realizing.

"It's important for both interviewer and interviewee to understand what employers do and don't have a legal right to ask in a job interview—for both parties' protection," says Rosemary Haefner, CHRO at Career Builder.

"Though their intentions may be harmless, managers could unknowingly be putting themselves at risk of legal action, as a job candidate could argue that certain questions were used to discriminate against him or her."

HR managers also expressed uncertainty around many questions; at least one third indicated they didn’t know if the following questions were legal:

·         What is your religious affiliation?
·         Are you pregnant?
·         What is your political affiliation?
·         What is your race, colour or ethnicity?
·         How old are you?
·         Are you disabled?
·         Are you married?
·         Do you have children or plan to?
·         Are you in debt?
·         Do you social drink or smoke?

Hiring expert Carol Quinn told HRM that there is no excuse for an illegal interview question to slip in.

“There is absolutely zero need to ask inappropriate questions when it comes to correctly identifying and hiring top performers,” she said. “There is nothing good about this and everything bad.”  

Joseph Campagna, founder of My Virtual HR, said HR managers should speak up if they see a colleague do something unorthodox.

“If you are in an interview with a colleague who asks an inappropriate or even illegal question, the best thing to do is correct it immediately,” he said. “Don't just butt-in or change the subject. It's important to make the statement that it has no bearing on their selection for the position. If you don't, you leave that open as a liability,” he warns.


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