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These are the questions you can’t be asked in a job interview

Have you been asked an illegal question? Image: Getty

Have you been asked your age in a job interview? What about your religious status? Or your family plans?

If so, you’ve been asked an illegal question.

One in four Australian have been asked an illegal question in an interview.

One in four Australian have been asked an illegal question in an interview, reveals new data from job search engine, SEEK. And, 82 per cent of us have answered.

The most common offenders relate to age (24 per cent) and marital status (18 per cent), but employers often get themselves in trouble by asking about parental status (12 per cent), tattoos (7 per cent) and disability (7 per cent).

It’s also illegal to be asked about your religion, your union membership, weight, sexual orientation or political alliances.

Why are employers asking these questions?

“What can happen sometimes is when an interviewer is getting to know somebody, sometimes they can ask questions with the aim of trying to build a rapport without realising that they’re actually asking a question which is considered illegal,” SEEK Group human resources director, Kathleen McCudden told Yahoo Finance.

“If they keep probing they can find themselves asking a question or enquiring about something which actually should be entirely off-limits.”

They’re the types of questions you might be asked in a normal social situation like “So, are you married?” “What do you get up to on the weekend?” Often, the employers themselves don’t even realise the questions are illegal.

“[However], if they keep probing they can find themselves asking a question or enquiring about something which actually should be entirely off-limits.”

The problem is, the answers can often lead to unconscious or conscious biases against the candidate, McCudden explained.

And, at the very least, they can make the candidate feel uncomfortable.

What do I do if I’ve been asked an illegal question?

To McCudden, it’s interesting to note that 82 per cent of people asked an illegal question answered it, implying that the candidates felt comfortable answering the question.

Nevertheless, it’s critical that candidates understand their rights in a job interview.

“If a candidate is asked a question and it makes them uncomfortable and it’s illegal, they are well within their rights to either just be silent and not respond, or say ‘I’m not actually comfortable to answer that’,” McCudden said.

“I think if they are concerned that that is going to impact whether they’ll be successful in the job or not, then I think they probably also need to ask themselves, ‘Is it a company that I want to work for anyway?’“

What do the numbers say?

Younger Australians (18-24) were most likely to have been asked about their age (34 per cent), while those between 35 and 44 are more likely to receive a question about their marital status (31 per cent).

Parental status cropped up frequently for those between 25 and 34 (23 per cent), while Gen Y were the most likely to be asked about tattoos (11 per cent), cultural background (10 per cent) or political alliances (4 per cent).

Interestingly, of the 82 per cent of candidates who answered an illegal question, 62 per cent received the job.

However, 43% of people who were asked an illegal question believe their response, or lack thereof, affected the outcome of the interview.

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