Recruiters are often criticised for their interview techniques and odd questions when meeting a candidate.
Whether it’s questions about how a candidate would solve a problem from a distant planet or which animal they would choose to be and why, recruiters and hiring managers like to put their applicants through their paces.
However, on occasion, recruiters have been known to overstep the mark and ask questions that could be deemed illegal. This was the case for one jobseeker.
Sharing her experience on Twitter, Francesca Baker shared her horror after a hiring manager questioned her about her relationship status so they could gauge whether she would be ‘distracted’ from their role and the company.
Shocked by the request for personal information, Baker considered the question to be an immediate ‘red flag’, which a number of Twitter users agreed with.
Susanna Whawell commented: “Massive red flag. Almost certainly discriminatory (unless they asked every man the same question(s) as re personal life). Also strongly indicative of a terrible organisational culture.”
Christina DiEdoardo agreed: “Red flag and potentially illegal IMHO, depending on the nature of the employment relationship and what state you and/or the employer are in.”
According to job site Reed, any questions regarding marital status, children and future family plans should not be brought up during an interview. In a blog post, the firm wrote: “Not only are these questions of a personal and potentially discriminatory nature, but this particular line of questioning could also be used to determine a person’s sexual orientation – something which has no bearing on a candidate’s ability to do the job. So no matter what the context, questions like these should raise an immediate red flag.”
While the question posed by the hiring manager to Baker is not actually illegal, it does suggest poor practice and that biased hiring may be coming into play. This is something Mandy Watson, Founder and Director at Ambitions Personnel, believes to be true.
Speaking to Recruitment Grapevine she added: "This case is very interesting and quite frankly, shocking. It is extremely bad practice to make enquiries about a candidate’s personal life during an interview and recruitment process and relationship status is no exception.
"While the question itself is not ‘illegal’ the implications of the employer's motives when trying to find out this information could potentially give rise to a discrimination claim. For example, are they trying to establish if someone is planning on starting a family? It could backfire quite badly."
This isn't the first time a jobseeker has been left in shock due to a recruiter’s choice of interview questions. Earlier this year during an interview with a city councillor at a Starbucks, a candidate revealed that she was asked if she would be comfortable not wearing a bra to work events.