Stories at Christmastime…

Stories at Christmastime…

Let’s get comfy by the roaring fire this festive season and share stories. But rather than heart-warming tales of animals or children, the stories we want to share involve questions that recruiters ask during interviews…

A staggering 73% of candidates, when questioned in a recent survey by C.V. Library, admitted to being asked an inappropriate question during an interview. (That they knew more than the recruiter that a particular question was off-limits is perhaps worrying…)

Whereas seemingly harmless questions may once have gone unnoticed years ago, today, with the stringent laws on discrimination our society has in place, asking about a candidate’s marital status is a real no-no, but still the topic that topped C.V. Library’s chart. 38% of interviewees admitted that this was a question that had been put to them.

Though a lot of work has been done by campaigners around age discrimination, when a candidate was born proved another topic of interest, with just over a third of respondents admitting to being asked this in an interview. Queries about disabilities and illnesses – again, despite laws surrounding these areas – continue to find their way into the interview process; a quarter of candidates confirmed this was a topic raised for discussion.

The list goes on: questions surrounding gender, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity featured in candidates’ interviews, as did how much alcohol interviewees drink!

A quarter of job-seekers said they were asked about their future plans for a family – and it wouldn’t take Einstein to work out that the majority of these were likely women.

Once asked, it seemed respondents to the C.V. Library survey couldn’t wait to share their stories. Two questions that particularly stood out were: ‘Why should we hire a person of your age and not someone younger?’ and ‘Have staff ever been distracted by your good looks?’

Their survey prompted us to look at other instances of inappropriate or crazy questions used in the interview process.

One job-seeker was asked, ‘How lucky are you, and why?’ Eh?!

One that stretches the imagination: ‘If you were a pizza delivery guy, how would you benefit from scissors?!’

Other examples: ‘Do you believe in Bigfoot?’; ‘Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?’; ‘Have you ever been on a boat?’ The latter may be relevant if the candidate was applying to work on a cruise ship, but he was interviewing for a graphic designer position that was very much land-bound.

‘Out of the three of us interviewing you here, which one of us would you rather work with, and why?’ Awkward…

‘What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done in your life?’ Like anyone is going to be that honest…

There are more:

‘Describe how you would wash your car.’

‘Are you a cat person?’

‘Would you rather fight a duck the size of a horse, or 50 duck-sized horses?’

‘What time were you born?’

‘When you go on holiday, when do you pack your case?’

‘What would you choose as your last meal?’

‘Explain what has happened in this country over the last ten years.’

‘Who do you like best: your mum or your dad?’ Wow!!

‘How would you react if you were transformed into a fish right now?’

‘Who would win a battle between a ninja and a pirate?’

We’re sure, as professional recruiters, that you’d never stray into illegal territory, nor subject your candidates to questions along the lines of those above (unless it’s relevant to the job role, of course, but how this could be, we’re not sure!).

In the moment, however, it’s probably difficult when following certain lines of conversation to ensure you remain within the law. However difficult it may be, it’s worth making the effort, as tribunals and disciplinaries are not pleasant, and can do a lot of damage to a company’s brand and culture.

Says Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of C.V. Library, “Interviewing for a new job is a nerve-wracking affair, even for those with years of experience under their belt. While it’s standard practice to be asked questions about previous work experience, as well as personal qualities or skills, in an interview, other questions are less acceptable. This includes anything relating to a candidate’s age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of national origin or birthplace, disability or family plans.”

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