BE INTERVIEW SAVVY
SILENCE MAY BE GOLDEN WHEN ASKED SOME ILLEGAL QUESTIONS BY HIRERS
JOB interviews are ideal for determining whether a jobseeker and employer are a good match but certain questions cannot legally be asked. McDonald Murholme principal lawyer Trent Hancock says recruiters’ and employers’ questions should only relate to a worker’s ability to perform in the position.
He says questions about demonstrating character traits are permissible, however, those seeking information beyond what is relevant to the role are not.
“Section 107 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 provides that a person must not request or require another person to supply information that could be used by the first person to form the basis of discrimination against the other person,” Hancock says.
“For example, a person should not be asked to supply information around their age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.
“The reason questions relating to these factors are unlawful is for the simple fact that these factors are not relevant to an employee’s ability to perform a job.”
An exception to this rule is in section 108 of the Act, which allows such information to be requested in an interview if it is reasonably required for a nondiscriminatory purpose.
For example, if someone is applying for a warehouse role that requires heavy lifting, an employer can lawfully ask about physical disability.
There are simple steps a jobseeker can take to ensure they are not caught out by an illegal question during a job interview. BE POLITE if an interviewer steps out of line. “Politely decline to answer the question on the basis that the answer is not relevant to your ability to perform the role,” Hancock says. DETERMINE RELEVANCE by asking the employer to explain why they think the question is relevant. “If it’s genuine and reasonable, it will render the question lawful,” Hancock says. STAND FIRM as jobseekers have the right to not answer a question on the basis of potential discrimination. CONSIDER LEGAL ACTION if your answer to a question leads to discrimination. “It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against candidates on the basis of certain attributes, and if they do, the candidate may be able to take legal action against them,” Hancock says.
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RIGHT APPROACH: Melissa Williams says employers must use a transparent hiring process to avoid discrimination.