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  • What you can – and cannot – be asked in a job interview

    What you can – and cannot – be asked in a job interview

    Have you ever wondered what personal information or data a prospective employer is entitled to ask you for at interview, or their legal obligation to look after such information once they have it?

    But of course, we may never know about desperate job seekers, faced with such a request, who are prepared to acquiesce.

    So, what other information is a prospective employer going to have difficulty eliciting from you at interview stage? Before you are offered a job, you cannot be asked health or disability related questions - including how many days' sickness you had in your previous employment (although there are limited exceptions where it is a necessary requirement of the job).

    After you have been offered a job, health inquiries can be made, but only to ensure that there are no obstacles to being able to carry out your role. Your employer cannot ask for a medical report on you without your knowledge or consent.

    In addition, you cannot be asked your age or date of birth. Crafty employers do try to get round this by posing related questions, such as asking an older applicant how long he or she saw herself working until retirement, but this would also be unlawful.

    Interviewers should avoid asking questions about your marital status, whether you have children, or are planning a family soon. It is acceptable, though, to be asked whether there are any responsibilities that could interfere with your attendance at work. You should furthermore not be questioned about your sexual preferences.

    If, on the basis of your name or appearance, an interviewer were to ask about where you were born, your race, native language, or religious views or affiliations, this could be seen as potential discrimination if you are not offered the role. You should be interviewed on the merits of your expertise for the job only.

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