Intrusive questions again

How to handle curly interview questions

By Kate Southam

People are writing to me again on the topic of "illegal" questions at job interviews. I first wrote about this topic in March but it seems there are still plenty of companies out there unfamiliar with anti-discrimination and privacy laws.

One reader was asked her age at a job interview while another was asked to submit a photocopy of her driver’s licence with her job application for a receptionist role. There was no driving involved in the job so she figured that the licence was a ploy to get a look at her before deciding if she should move beyond the phone interview stage.

Job application forms are also a problem. A candidate who had trained and worked in human resources was appalled when confronted with a form asking her to record her height, weight and age and to list the number and ages of any children she had. Wow, that’s the worse one I’ve heard of.

Some on hire labour companies need to get the paper work out of the way before placing candidates in temp jobs so that often requires providing a birth date and tax file number. However, I have asked around some well-known agencies and all agree the questions described to me were outrageous.

I have advice in the Get that Job section as to how to tackle such intrusive questions but it’s hard to do tactfully. People do not like being corrected even when that person is a job interviewer who should know better.

As I’ve said before, do you really want to work for people who are either so ignorant or arrogant that they asked questions such as your age or marital status?

In the meantime, employers anxious about asking the wrong thing can obtain free information from the "For Employers" section of – the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity website.

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