The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Three Out of Four Job Seekers Asked ‘Off Limits’ Interview Questions


According to new joint research conducted by TopCV, the largest CV-writing service in the world, and CV-Library, one of the UK’s largest online job sites, 73 per cent of nearly 2,000 professionals surveyed have been asked an inappropriate or illegal question during an interview.

In fact, when asked about the types of topics they’ve been questioned about in an interview, the following areas were identified as those which interviewees are most commonly quizzed on:

  1. Marital status (38%)
  2. Age (34%)
  3. Criminal convictions (32%)
  4. Disability and illness (25%)
  5. Children and family planning (25%)
  6. Place of birth or ethnicity (25%)
  7. Lifestyle choices (E.g. Do you smoke? How much do you typically drink?) (19%)
  8. Memberships or affiliations (14%)
  9. Religion (12%)
  10. Gender or sexual orientation (11%)

In addition, when asked if they’d like to provide an example anonymously, over 100 people wanted to share their ‘off-limits’ stories with the survey and some of the responses that came back were startling. Questions ranged from ‘Why should we hire a person of your age and not someone younger?’ to ‘Have staff ever been distracted by your good looks?’

Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at TopCV, commented:

“While most interview questions are asked as a genuine way to evaluate a candidate’s ability to do the job, some may steer toward an unprofessional or downright illegal place. When it comes to obtaining personal information, responses could impact their candidacy because of discrimination or bias – regardless if it’s done intentionally.

“For anyone who is unsure, any personal or sensitive information is usually off-limits, unless it is specifically relevant to the job for which you are applying. If you feel uncomfortable answering, don’t be afraid to say so.”

“Interviewing for a new job is a nerve-wracking affair, even for those with years of experience under their belt. While it’s standard practice to be asked questions about previous work experience, as well as personal qualities or skills, in an interview, other questions are less acceptable. This includes anything relating to a candidate’s age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of national origin or birthplace, disability or family plans”, says Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library.


Chris is a digital marketing and publishing whizz by trade, having worked alongside the Automotive, Information Security and Software Asset Management sectors.

Specialising in data analysis and social media, he combines an analytical approach with a creative flair to achieve the best results. With a keen interest in Technology and Politics, Chris is constantly on the look-out for the latest stories around change and innovation.

As a lover of all things innovative, he has developed a keen eye for spotting the latest trends and hot topics. He sources and reads the latest news and thought-leadership articles from the world of recruitment before sharing them with the social media population.


Related Articles