Interviews can often be a daunting process for both the employer and the applicant. What many people don’t realise is that there are things you can and can’t say during an interview. Familiarising yourself with what is and isn’t acceptable is a good idea so that you don’t get yourself in some serious hot water!

What can I ask in an interview?

Your primary objective in an interview is to determine whether the candidate is suitably qualified for the position you are seeking. It is always a good idea when interviewing a candidate, to stick to job-specific questions such as, “Provide an example of when you were able to navigate a challenging encounter with a customer?” or, “Tell us about a time when you demonstrated excellent teamwork skills?”. Other questions that may not be specifically related to the job but are still appropriate may include, “What salary are you seeking for your next opportunity?” or, “Are you able to travel for work if required?”.

What can’t I ask in an interview?

Comments and questions that shouldn’t be asked or made during an interview include anything that is not going to help you determine the suitability of the candidate for the role. Asking questions such as “Do you have children?” or, “What are your religious beliefs?” are inappropriate to ask during an interview. Although you may have good intentions in asking these questions, such as suggesting a nearby childcare centre or offering the utilisation of a private room for religious purposes, they are not appropriate and can make a candidate feel uncomfortable.

What if the candidate offers information that I cannot ask?

If a candidate offers information about their children or about their age, for example, it is still best not to engage in the topic and divert the attention back to the purpose of the interview.

Is there a way to gain information without asking an inappropriate question?

There are some instances where it may be helpful to know more details about the candidate’s personal life. For example, a requirement of the job may involve regular travel interstate. You may want to know whether the candidate has children and if there is a spouse that can care for them whilst they are away for work. Rather than asking “Do you have children and is someone able to care for them when you’re away?”, you may ask “Do you have any limitations preventing you from regular work-related travel?”. This question focuses on the requirement to travel for work purposes, whilst also determining the candidate’s flexibility and availability to travel.

What are the risks if I ask an inappropriate question?

If you ask an inappropriate question during an interview and then ultimately decide not to hire the candidate, this could give the candidate grounds to lodge a discrimination claim on the basis of your questioning. Even if you are planning to proceed with the candidate’s application, it is always a good idea to avoid inappropriate questions or comments.

During an interview, emotions are heightened, and questions or comments can often be made without thinking them through. To avoid asking inappropriate questions, and to make sure you get the relevant information to make the right choice, it is always a good idea to have an interview guide pre-prepared. This will help you to stay on track and avoid drifting into murky waters.

If you’re looking for assistance in recruitment, managing interviews or establishing guides to support your recruitment efforts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, via the chat box here or calling us on 08 6150 0043.

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