Job Interview Questions You Cannot Ask

Job Interview Questions You Cannot Ask

Job interviews are a pivotal part of the hiring process in both provincial and federal regulated working environments in Canada. When a job applicant applies for a position, an interview is often the next step if the candidate shows promise. However, employers and job applicants should be keenly aware of the types of job interview questions that are off-limits during the interview, as asking the wrong job interview questions can have serious legal consequences for the hiring company.

Understanding the Job Interview Process

Typically, a job interview involves the employer and the job applicant engaging in a discussion, whether in person or virtually, about the workplace and the applicant’s interest in the position. The applicant is questioned about their prior work experience and what they can bring to the workplace. Following the interview, the employer evaluates whether the candidate is a good fit for the position and proceeds with the next stages of the recruitment process.

Job Interview Questions You Cannot Ask

All job interviews in Ontario and federal working environments fall under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) and the Canadian Human Rights Act (the “CHRA”) respectively. Consequently, employers must avoid asking certain job interview questions related to protected grounds, which include the candidate’s race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offenses, marital status, family status, or disability.

Asking these types of job interview questions can jeopardize the hiring process and expose the employer to liability for discriminatory conduct, with potential consequences at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Permissible Job Interview Questions

During job interviews, employers should ensure that their questions are standardized and do not touch upon protected Code or CHRA grounds. In some instances, the position may have legitimate and necessary duties, for which the employer can ask relevant job interview questions.

Spontaneous, unstructured job interview questions should be minimized to avoid inadvertently addressing protected grounds, which could lead to unintended liability. A well-structured, organized, and standardized job interview process helps employers and recruiters steer clear of inappropriate job interview questions related to these protected grounds.

If the job applicant voluntarily provides information related to a protected ground under the Code or CHRA, it is best not to pursue any related line of questioning.

Consequences of Asking Inappropriate Job Interview Questions

If an employer appears discriminatory during the hiring process, even unintentionally, they can face substantial monetary damages at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Inappropriate job interview questions can even result in a finding of discrimination, even if the job applicant was not hired due to having fewer skills and experience compared to the successful candidate.

To mitigate these risks, employers should consider implementing a well-structured, organized, and standardized job interview process to ensure that skills and experience assessments align with the nature of the position and do not involve any of the protected grounds under the Code or the CHRA.

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Contact Achkar Law

If you are an employer and want to ensure you are conducting safe and proper job interviews, or a job seeker who believes you have experienced discrimination during the hiring process, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help.

Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.