Questions that you should not be asked in an interview

by Wasim Ismail on February 14, 2011

Have you ever gone to interviews when looking for jobs and left wondering if you had been discriminated against? Just because you are in need of employment, doesn't mean that you can be made to feel uncomfortable by a possible employer. There are a number of boundaries that employers should not cross, but many candidates are unaware of this and sheepishly agree to answer their ridiculous questions. Whether you are looking for jobs in Durban or anywhere else in the world, we have compiled a list of some of the questions that you should be aware of.  Not only can you refuse to answer, but maybe at that point you will also realise that the opportunity provided is not worth taking.

What race category do you fall under?

Um… the human race! The ability to handle a certain position is determined on your ability to do the job and the qualifications required – not the colour of your skin. Employers should be aware that making a decision based on race is illegal.

Which side do you bat for?

Sexual preference is another inappropriate question that could pop up in an interview. Again, this is not a factor that can determine whether you are fit to handle the position that has been advertised.

What are your thoughts on pregnancy?

Women often suffer illegal questions in an interview and anything related to pregnancy, child care or any future interest in having children is not allowed.

Have you ever been to rehab?

Although most companies have policies relating to the use of alcohol or illegal substances, this is not an appropriate question for the interview process. An employer can, however, inquire into whether you are using illegal drugs.

Do you regularly hang out at hospital?

There are a number of privacy implications at bay regarding medical history. If you have medical problems that prevent you from working effectively, then you should not apply for certain positions, but employers cannot discriminate against you if you have just had a bad health year.

Are all the screws fastened up there?

Questions regarding mental disabilities are also considered a privacy issue and a line of questions regarding these are inappropriate.

So, do you have any disabilities?

Any queries regarding disability are off-limit, unless prompted by the candidate. Conversations regarding disabilities in the interview are illegal.

What religion are you?

Your choice of religion should not play a part in a job interview. You have a right to follow any religion and you are not obligated to answer questions regarding this.

Have you filed any cases against former employers?

You have a right to seek action if you have been unfairly treated at a job, and this should not affect applications for future positions. The company should abide by the rules – if they do then they would not be concerned about this.

Samantha Stevens writes on various topics including job interview tips, career advice and changing careers. After having a few it jobs she is now a full time writer. Looking for jobs in Cape Town? Check out a South African job board.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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