Forbidden Questions in a Job Interview: What Not to Discuss
The aim of a job interview is to assess the candidate’s competencies and provide a detailed presentation of the job offer. Questions about work experience, completed courses, strengths, and weaknesses are natural and typically part of the interview process. As a general rule, the recruiter should avoid delving into matters that intrude too much into the candidate’s private life. Unfortunately, the internet is full of examples of inappropriate questions that internet users have heard during job interviews. Many of these questions are not only tactless but also illegal under Polish law. What questions should not be asked during a job interview? How should you react when you hear one of them?
The questions a candidate receives during the recruitment process should be directly related to the nature of the job. The Labor Code clearly defines what information a potential employer can obtain from a candidate. What issues are not on the list? What questions are not allowed?
Marital status, future plans, and other private matters
In the 1990s, questions about marital status were common practice. Today, they are on the prohibited list. Questions about the number of children, the use of childcare services such as nurseries or kindergartens, or – in the case of women – pregnancy and family plans are also at least tactless. Unfortunately, the experiences of many female candidates show that discussions related to motherhood often come up during job interviews. Answering such questions affirmatively has, on many occasions, resulted in a candidate being disqualified right from the start. Such behavior by a potential employer can be considered discriminatory and should not occur.
A recruiter should not inquire about your health, including past illnesses or chronic conditions. Questions about addictions, smoking, or alcohol abuse are also illegal. These are considered sensitive data. The only thing a recruiter may request is a statement of fitness for work in a particular position, issued by an occupational health physician.
A recruiter cannot ask about your beliefs, origin, or religion
No information obtained during a job interview should discriminate against the candidate. Questions about political beliefs, religious affiliation, origin, or sexual orientation are prohibited. Worldview should not affect the assessment of a candidate’s competencies. Every employee should be respected in the workplace. An employer cannot favor specific individuals based on similar political beliefs or treat them differently due to low social status or financial standing.
Have you ever been convicted?
Questions about a person’s criminal record are permissible when applying for positions in law enforcement, civil service, or other professions directly related to security. In such cases, inquiring about a person’s criminal record is justified. An employer has the right to request information regarding a person’s criminal record from the National Criminal Register.In other cases, asking about a person’s criminal record is not allowed.
An employer also has no right to demand a certificate of no criminal record.
Examples of prohibited questions
Among the prohibited questions, we can list:
- Do you plan to start a family?
- What is your sexual orientation?
- Are you currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon?
- How many children do you have?
- Are you heterosexual?
- What do you think about the political situation in the country?
- What is your religious affiliation?
- Have you ever received psychiatric treatment?
How to react when a recruiter asks an inappropriate question?
If one of the prohibited questions is asked during a job interview, you have every right to point out its inappropriateness to the interviewer. Make sure to remain calm and professional throughout the conversation.
Remember that a prohibited question does not necessarily stem from malicious intent. Sometimes, it is simply the result of the interviewer’s lack of experience.
Does accusing the recruiter of being tactless in advance guarantee the failure of the recruitment process? It may happen. However, consider whether an employer who asks prohibited questions is truly worth your attention. Do you really want to work for a company that, from the outset, violates the regulations outlined in the Labor Code, which is the fundamental document that defines your rights? The answer is simple.
What can a recruiter ask you?
The scope of personal data and the catalog of questions that may be asked during a job interview are legally regulated. The Labor Code clearly states that a recruiter can request the potential employee’s first and last names, parents’ names, date of birth, place of residence, and correspondence address if different, education, and previous work experience.
And what questions should you not ask the recruiter?
There is no official list of prohibited topics that a candidate should not bring up during a job interview. However, there are questions that can eliminate you right from the start. One of them is asking about the company’s line of business. By asking what the company does, you demonstrate your lack of preparation for the interview. You should know which company you are applying to and for what position. Otherwise, the recruiting person may perceive you as unserious, dismissive, and not worth considering.
It is not very professional to ask about vacation. If a candidate asks when they can take a vacation before even getting the job, they come across as unmotivated, unproductive, and unreliable.
Furthermore, do not inquire about how it went, whether the working hours are flexible, or if there is overtime in the company.
A job interview is an important meeting – both for the candidate and the recruiter. Both parties should treat each other with respect. Good communication is much more effective in a positive atmosphere!