Hiring managers, are you asking illegal questions?

Hiring managers, are you asking illegal questions?

Hiring managers, are you asking illegal questions?

New research shows that hiring managers are frequently asking candidates “illegal” questions. What constitutes an illegal question? Here’s a look at proper interview ethics. 

Interview ethics and training remain blurry concepts for hiring managers. When a role needs quick replacement, the hiring team doesn’t always have the time to restructure their approach. But new research shows that hiring teams need to act quickly to revise interview methods.

Hiring legislation requires managers to treat all candidates fairly and without discrimination. But if there isn’t a strong understanding of what discriminatory practices should be during an interview, how will managers be able to uphold legislative requirements?

Lack of awareness

 UK science and technology recruitment specialists, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, have published a report revealing the lack of training among hiring managers when it comes to interview acumen. At its worst, the report reveals a lack of understanding about what questions they can legally ask candidates – and what they can’t.

The main objective for hiring managers when conducting an interview should be to ask questions that pertain to the job role and the relative suitability of the candidate.

But the findings show there are many non-related personal questions hiring managers ask during the interview stage. A shocking percent of them think it’s okay to ask the following:

  • What year they were born– 88%

  • Where their accent is from– 91%

  • If they are in a relationship or married– 51%

  • If they have plans to start a family– 42%

Did you know 77% of hiring managers said they did not think these questions were potentially illegal to ask candidates? While 40% think these questions were even ‘acceptable’ to ask in an interview environment.

Lack of training 

How are hiring managers supposed to know what questions they are permitted to ask when only 36% say they’ve received official training in interview acumen. Nearly half of all hiring managers involved in the survey said they had never received official training about what kinds of questions they are allowed to ask during an interview.

If entry-level and junior level staff are not schooled in interview acumen, businesses will suffer in the long run. The lack of understanding for appropriate interview conduct will move up the corporate ladder as employees will fail to teach their successors.

Interview ethics: Gender differences

There is a big variation between the genders when it comes to interview ethics. The perspectives of the hiring team and the candidates are not always aligned. 42% of male hiring managers thought asking candidates about potential maternity and paternity leave was acceptable compared to only 24% of their female counterparts.

23% of male candidates have reportedly felt mistreated and subjected to discriminatory practices during job interviews. An estimated 43% have actively reported these feelings to the interviewer at the time. Interestingly enough, only 22% of females confronted the interviewer if they felt the conversation had become too personal.

A culture of silence 

Could the lack of knowledge in interview ethics be leading to a culture of silence? The survey found that one-in-five employees have felt mistreated during an interview. A majority of those asked (a shocking 48%) said they tried to ignore the situation. The percentages of those who took action during an unsavoury interview situation are low, with only 34% confronting the interviewer and even less (a dismal 17%) making a complaint against the company afterwards.

How Prosper² can help

Prosper² understands the importance of HR because ensuring good hiring practices will avoid legal complications and maintain good interview morale. Did you know that with Prosper² you have access to employment law, health & safety advice and HR advice? As a Prosper² member you have exclusive, unlimited access to our Business Advice Line for HR-related enquiries.

Prosper² helps with:


  • Absenteeism
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Handling grievances and disciplinary processes
  • Redundancies
  • Dismissing a staff member
  • Contract of Employment
  • Managing holiday entitlements

Health & Safety

  • Preparing for on-site premises health & safety inspection
  • Understanding responsibilities
  • Ensuring Health & Safety obligations are being met
  • Creating an action plan

If your business wants to make sure you’re following the appropriate legislation within interview procedures than be sure to read the original article published here with Prosper²’s SME resource, Real Business.


Prosper Squared (UK) Limited is registered in England & Wales, Company Number 09535801. Registered Address 843 Finchley Road, London NW11 8NA.


Prosper² and Prosper Rewards are trademarks of Prosper Limited a company registered in the Isle of Man, Company Number 130772C. Registered Address Ports of Call, Bay View Road, Port St Mary, Isle of Man, IM9 5AE.


The Prosper² Prepaid Mastercard is issued by Moorwand Ltd (FCA reference no. 900709), a principal member of Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark and the design of the circles in the logo is a registered trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Membership Application Form

Thank you for your interest in joining Prosper2, please complete the application form below.

Alternatively, please call the team on 0203 814 0046.

    Request More Information

    Please complete the form below and a member of our team will contact you. Alternatively, please call the team on 0203 814 0046.

      Please let us know the best time and date for you.

      Prosper2 Black Membership

      To see if your business qualifies for an invitation, please contact us on 0203 814 0046

        (e.g Tuesday at 3pm)

        Prosper2 Marketplace Entry

          Provide details of your company and the products or services you wish to promote on the Marketplace.

          Detail the geographic area in which you do business

          Please detail the % points rewards you'll provide to other Prosper Members

          yesI want my Marketplace entry to be anonymised