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Interview Question Database

Illegal

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits determining employability based on age, race, ancestry, colour, sex, marital status, physical/mental ability, place of origin, political beliefs, family status, and sexual orientation. Therefore, it is considered inappropriate to ask questions of this nature during an interview.

However, there are situations where it may be entirely appropriate to ask questions “typically” considered inappropriate. For instance: if you are interviewing for a position in another country, the topic of culture, religion, and family status may arise. It is important for you to determine the suitability of the question.

Question Intent

You may on occasion be asked inappropriate questions if the interviewer is: curious to know more about you, inexperienced in their role as an interviewer and unfamiliar with the appropriateness of the question, or probing for information based on a hidden agenda

Tips in Responding to Illegal Questions

If you are comfortable answering the question and do not think it is inappropriate in the situation, you may choose to respond. If you think the interviewer is unaware that they have asked an inappropriate question, you could provide them the benefit of the doubt and ask if they may please re-phrase the question. If you feel uncomfortable, diplomatically request clarification on the relationship between the question and the job requirements.

Illegal

ABOUT ILLEGAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

In Canada, employers are not permitted to ask questions about the following topics to prevent discrimination: place of origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or financial situation. You have the option of not answering the question by indicating the question is prohibited by law or deflecting by asking to skip the question.

Have you ever suffered a workplace injury? Have you experienced any serious illnesses in the past year?

This is an example of a proxy question about disability. Conversely, it is appropriate for the interviewer to ask if you capable of performing solely job-related tasks. For example, "are you able to perform the essential functions of this job?". If the relation between the task and the job position is not explicit, your interviewer should be able to explain how this question is applicable to ask you.

Answer Tips

Are you comfortable working in an all-male workplace? Are you comfortable using a all-gender restroom?

Gender-based questions may come up in interviews for positions or industries that have traditionally been dominated by one gender. In most cases, there are obvious comments that improperly suggest that the interviewer is considering gender when making decisions.

Answer Tips

Do you rent or own your home? Who do you live with?

This is a proxy question for multiple topics, such as family/martial status or financial status. In the proper context, it is possible the interviewer may ask questions such as "would you be willing to relocate if necessary?- would you be able and willing to travel as needed by the job? " or "would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary?" as these questions are obviously related to the job.

Answer Tips

What country are your parents from? Is [your name] of this origin?

This is an example of a proxy question about race. These types of questions may be asked during the introductions or in small-talk before an interview. In the right context, it is appropriate that the interviewer may ask "can you speak any languages that will benefit you in this position?" or "Are you authorized to work in Canada? What languages can you speak/write/read fluently?".

Answer Tips

What year were you born? When did you graduate high school?

If asked directly, the answer to this question may lead to age discrimination.

Answer Tips

Are you a member of a non-professional organization?

This is proxy question for religion. Your employer should not be asking you these types of questions if it is not directly relevant to the job. However, they may ask you for any relevant work you've done with other organizations. An appropriate question with a similar intent would be: "can you list any professional or trade groups or other organizations that you belong to that you consider relevant to your ability to perform this job?".

Answer Tips

Are you available to work weekends? Will you be taking specific times of the year off?

This is an example of a proxy question regarding religion. Note: it is fair for your employer to ask you for your general availability and the types of hours you expect to work, especially if these types of questions are asked to all candidates.

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