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Research reveals that inequality starts at interview

Tuesday 04 September 2018

New research by recruitment specialists, Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) has revealed that an alarming 85 per cent of interviewers have admitted to asking off limits questions during an interview.

The research also unveiled confusion among hiring managers over what can and cannot be asked, with nearly half (47 per cent) saying they have never had official training on what questions to ask during the interview process.

In total 2,000 people took part in the online survey, which included 1,000 employees and 1,000 hiring managers, who have been involved in interviewing candidates for their company.

The findings highlight a lack of interview training among those responsible for hiring staff. Just a third (36 per cent) of those at a junior level of responsibility said they had received training, compared to 56 per cent of those at director level and 72 per cent of business owners.

The Apprentice winner, Ricky Martin, who set up recruitment firm (HRS) after winning the reality TV show in 2012, called on Britain’s bosses to sharpen up their act when it comes to interviews - to give all applicants an equal chance.

He said: “It’s pretty shocking to unearth that such practices are happening every day in the hiring process. It is imperative British bosses are educated on work place practice, to put a stop to such shocking interview practices which lead to unprecedented inequality. Official training should be mandatory across all business sectors for anyone involved in the process of interviewing prospective candidates. It’s also really important a light is shone on what is and isn’t acceptable in the recruitment process to give prospective employees the best possible chance of success at the interview stage.”

Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of interviewers surveyed said they do not think it is potentially illegal to ask, ‘Are you planning on going on maternity / paternity leave?’ with 40 per cent thinking the question is acceptable and 36 per cent thinking it is inappropriate – but not potentially illegal. Such questions have the potential to breach the law, which requires potential employers to treat all candidates fairly and could be seen as discriminatory. However, 42 per cent of male hiring managers think it is an ‘acceptable’ question compared to 24 per cent of female hiring chiefs.

From an employee point of view, the survey went on to show that one in five (19 per cent) feel they have been mistreated in an interview. And of those, 48 per cent tried to ignore it, 34 per cent told the interviewer how they felt, 19 per cent walked out and just 17 per cent made a complaint to the hiring company. Twenty-three per cent of men and 16 per cent of women said they had felt mistreated in an interview, with twice as many men (43 per cent) as women (22 per cent) telling the interviewer how they felt.

Mr Martin continued: “This research isn’t about suggesting the recruitment process is made easy for interviewees, but ensuring all prospective employees are given a fair and honest opportunity to secure a job based on their skills and ability not their gender, personal choices or maternity/paternity choices!”

The research found that 39 per cent of hiring managers thought it was acceptable to ask interviewees if they had plans to start a family. Meanwhile 36 per cent thought it was acceptable to ask 'Are your parents from outside the UK', with only 18 per cent thinking it was potentially illegal. And 91 per cent of hiring managers do not think it is potentially illegal to ask where a candidate’s accent originates from.

Here are the top 10 off limits questions that hiring managers admitted they have asked candidates in interviews include:

  • What year did you graduate? (59 per cent)
  • What year were you born? (55 per cent)
  • Do you have any children? (56 per cent)
  • Are you physically fit and healthy? (53 per cent)
  • Are you in a relationship or married? (51 per cent)
  • Have you got any plans to start a family? (42 per cent)
  • Where is your accent from? (46 per cent)
  • Will you need flexible time for family life? (46 per cent)
  • Did you grow up outside of the UK? (45 per cent)
  • Will you need time off during half term? (43 per cent)

We're here to lend a helping hand

Our 45 minute online Interviewing Skills course is perfect for anyone looking to refine their interview style and better understand questions and practices to avoid which could lead to tribunals. We also offer an Introduction to Equality and Diversity course and an Equality and Diversity for Managers course which cover how to prevent direct or indirect discrimination and current UK legislation surrounding equality and diversity.