What not to ask a candidate at a recruitment interview

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Thorsten Andersen

Director, Denmark


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As a candidate in a recruitment interview, you are protected from a wide range of questions, as there are rules about what you cannot be asked. Therefore, this article prepares you for the practical aspects of a recruitment interview in terms of the topics you can expect not to be asked about.

In the following sections, you will therefore find a variety of topics that you, as a candidate, can expect an employer not to ask you about:

What an employer must not ask you

There are specific topics that an employer must not ask about at all during a recruitment interview. §1 of the Discrimination Act states:

“For the purposes of this act, discrimination means any direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of race, colour, religion or belief, political opinion, sexual orientation, age, disability or national, social or ethnic origin”.

It is therefore essential that certain topics are completely excluded from a recruitment interview. These topics include pregnancy and family plans, disabilities, trade union and religion, background and sexuality. It also includes questions about a candidate’s age, as a new law ensures that employers cannot ask about a candidate’s age. This law is described in a previous blog post and can be read here.

Claus Mengel-Niemann, senior consultant at Compass Human Resources Group, emphasises that the above topics are rarely relevant to an employment:

“It is not something that I see as a restriction. The topics usually have nothing to do with the performance of the job, so it is not needed in a recruitment interview”.

Compass Human Resources Group’s thoughts on the guidelines

At Compass Human Resources Group, a job interview functions as a dialogue between recruiter and candidate. In doing so, we maintain a distance to the topics it is required not to ask about:

“As an employer, you may only ask about those topics that are relevant to how the job will be organized and performed. In this way, you avoid doubts about discrimination and differential treatment”, it is stated in an article by the Confederation of Danish Industry.

Our practice is in line with the requirements of a recruitment interview and process:

“In practice, I do not think it is a problem. I do not see our clients saying, for example, that they do not want a younger woman because of the possibility of a maternity leave – and especially not after the new rules, where part of the maternity leave is earmarked for the father. The rules make it easier to be an applicant”, it is concluded by Claus Mengel-Niemann, senior consultant at Compass Human Resources Group.

Employers are banned from obtaining information about an applicant’s age in recruitment and hiring.

New law ensures that employers cannot ask about age

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