Questions Never to Ask When Interviewing in IT Recruitment

Questions Never to Ask When Interviewing in IT Recruitment

If you are given the task of interviewing you should ensure you make yourself aware of up-to-date employment law and that all the questions you plan to ask are compliant, legal, and non-discriminatory. There are often ‘grey’ areas and some questions within a role interview that may seem harmless but are in fact discriminatory and therefore illegal.  The questions below may seem stark, however when interviewing a candidate, often they may open and talk freely about themselves and their personal life. Be aware of what is discriminatory and avoid asking some of the questions below:

Sexual Discrimination

This area of discrimination is usually more targeted towards women, but male applicants can also be discriminated against.
Interviewers should not make any reference to a person’s marital status, children they may have now or in the future or their sexual preference. All could be grounds for discrimination as your organisation might be deemed to view a person being married as either favourably in that they may see an applicant as being more stable or, perhaps, unfavourably in that they may see a conflict of interest between a single person having more time to devote to the role over a married person who might have to juggle family commitments.

  • Do you have children?
  • Are you planning on extending your family?
  • Are you Married or Single? 
  • How old are your children? 
  • Do you live on your own?
  • Will childcare work for you having to work these hours?
  • Will these shifts clash with your family commitments?

Disability Discrimination

As an employer during an interview, it is generally unadvisable to ask a candidate about their health or disability until they have been offered employment with your organisation. Some candidates will offer details of their health and disability voluntarily.  The Equality Act 2010 places some limits on questions an employer can rightfully ask. Questions that should be avoided:

  • How did you acquire your disability?
  • Do you think it would be difficult to do this role with your disability?

Some reasonable questions could be:

  • Are there any adjustments we would need to make to accommodate your disability?
  • How might you be able to carry out XXX function of the role?

A candidate at interview would only need to briefly describe the nature of their disability if any adjustments they would be required to make – it may help to clarify how a previous employer made those adjustments (if applicable). Fundamentally, what is most important is the ability of the candidate to do the role once any reasonable adjustments have been made.

Racial discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against candidates because of race. Race includes:

  • Colour
  • Nationality
  • Ethnic or national origins

Under this Act, it does not have any significance as to whether the discrimination was made on purpose or not. What counts is whether (as a result of an employer’s actions) you treat one candidate less favourably than another candidate because of their race.

  • What is your native tongue?
  • Where were you born?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Are you a UK citizen?

Although this last question may seem like the simplest and direct method to find out if a candidate is legally able to work in the UK, it remains unlawful to ask this question. As an employer you can have a right to ask whether the candidate is legally entitled to work in the UK.

Age Discrimination

People are working differently in 2021, and dor different reasons and this should always be considered, Age discrimination is based on stereotyped prejudices such as “younger workers being less committed” and “older workers are more loyal” would be construed as ageist. Similarly, older people may become more tired and younger people work better with technology, are both ageist statements.

At both ends of the age range employees are applying for roles for different reasons and employers should not consider the age of a prospective candidate as a reason not to recruit them. Interviewers need to consider their own bias and avoid any casual comments.

  • How do you feel about working with a team much younger than you?
  • Aren’t you too young to manage this team?
  • Would this salary be enough for you at your stage in life?
  • How have you kept your skills fresh over the years?
  • What year did you leave University?


For further advice on Discrimination when planning interviews.