An article in the Guardian (13.7.2014) reported that the Home Office has suspended a passport official pending a disciplinary investigation for asking intrusive questions to a gay father with two children adopted by his husband and himself. During the interview she asked him what his sexual history was and made comments such as 'what do you think people make of you when you walk down the street with your kids' and 'so you're the housewife'. The passport official in question assumed that she would be allowed to ask any questions she liked but Employers must be very careful when interviewing to avoid claims of harassment or discrimination regardless of which forum they may be in.

Outlined are some example questions that cannot be asked during an interview without being discriminatory along with alternatives for Employers which will help them achieve the answers they require.

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What  you can't ask What you should ask instead
Are you a UK Citizen? Are you authorised to work in the UK?
Which religion are you? What days and work patterns are you available to work?
Are you married? Have you worked or earned any qualfications under another name?
When are you planning to retire? What are you long term career goals?
Have you had a long-term illness in the last 2 years? How many days absence have you had in the last 2 years?
How far away do you live? Are you able to start work at 8.00am?
Do you have or plan to have children? Are you able to work overtime and travel at short notice?
If you get pregnant, how much maternity leave will you take?       What are your long term career goals?
How do you feel about managing women? Tell me about your previous experience in managing a team?
How much do you weigh? Are you able to lift heavy items?
Are you disabled? Are you able to perform specific duties associated with this role?

Planning interview questions prior to an interview along with using common sense is essential for all Managers prior to carrying out an interview. An innocent question by a Manager from their point of view may cause offence to the person they are interviewing resulting in an expensive claim to a tribunal.


For more advice and guidance surrounding this area, please contact

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