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Research reveals that inequality starts at interview

Monday 03 September 2018

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

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

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%) of those at a junior level of responsibility said they had received training, compared to 56% of those at director level and 72% of business owners.

The Apprentice winner Ricky Martin, who set up his own 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%) 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% thinking the question is acceptable and 36% 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% of male hiring managers think it is an ‘acceptable’ question compared to 24% of female hiring chiefs.

From an employee point of view, the survey went on to show that one in five (19%) feel they have been mistreated in an interview. And of those, 48% tried to ignore it, 34% told the interviewer how they felt, 19% walked out and just 17% made a complaint to the hiring company.

Twenty-three per cent of men and 16% of women said they had felt mistreated in an interview, with twice as many men (43%) as women (22%) 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!”

Highlights from the survey

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

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

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

Employees’ worst 10 interview questions to be asked:

1. What would your worst enemy say about you?
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
3. If you were on holiday with all of your family and the company need you, would you come back?
4. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?
5. What are your weaknesses?
6. Describe a situation where you didn’t work well with a supervisor or co-worker.
7. What is your biggest regret?
8. Tell me about a time you failed.
9. Tell me something interesting about yourself.
10. What would you do if you were the sole survivor of an airline crash on a desert island?

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.