Asking applicants certain questions in a job interview may disadvantage some people and could amount to discrimination. Employers are required by law to avoid discrimination when recruiting staff.

Employers should not seek unnecessary and potentially discriminatory information from applicants when they develop selection criteria or prepare interview questions. It could be discrimination if employers do so and then rely on this information in deciding not to offer a candidate a job.

For example, it may be against the law to ask job applicants whether they have ever made a workers’ compensation claim, how much sick leave they have taken or other questions about health conditions that do not relate to their ability to do the job.

If employers believe a job will be demanding, they should word a question in a way that asks whether the person can complete the inherent requirements of the job – such as interstate travel or long hours – rather than asking personal questions.

Example: An employer asks an applicant for a retail job if they have children. If they say they do and the employer relies on this information in deciding not to offer the job, the applicant could make a complaint of discrimination based on family responsibilities.

Employers may need to ask a candidate with a disability for information about the disability to determine whether they will be able to perform the inherent requirements of the job, to assess any health and safety risks or to identify any adjustments to the workplace that may be required.

Employers may need to ask a pregnant candidate for information about her pregnancy to determine whether she will be able to perform the requirements of the job and assess any health and safety risks.