What you should never ask a candidate during an interview in 2022

October 6, 2022


minutes read

Benjamin Marsili

Benjamin Marsili

Founder & CEO

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Here you are, unprepared and unsure what to ask while facing a job candidate. The hiring manager wants to know your thoughts on whether or not to hire this person.

One thing you must know, it is the duty of HR to ensure the interviewers are trained for this. Unprepared and untrained interviewers lead to reputation damage, lawsuits, inefficiencies, and wrong hires.

In Singapore, the guiding principles stated in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices are a good place to start and may eventually be incorporated in the law, it says:

  1. Recruit and select employees on the basis of merit (such as skills, experience or ability to perform the job), regardless of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.
  2. Treat employees fairly and with respect, and implement progressive human resource management systems.
  3. Provide employees with equal opportunity to be considered for training and development based on their strengths and needs, to help them achieve their full potential.
  4. Reward employees fairly based on their ability, performance, contribution and experience.
  5. Abide by labour laws and adopt the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

What you cannot ask during interviews

Do not ask about:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender or Sex
  • Age
  • Health or Disability
  • Marital Status
  • Family Status or Pregnancy
  • Country of Origin
  • Religion
  • Political Views
  • Diet
  • Criminal Record


  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What is your political affiliation?
  • What is your race, colour or ethnicity?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Are you in debt?
  • Do you socially drink or smoke?
Hands together at the office

Beware of the differences between countries

In Singapore, the law has yet to catch-up to the best practice guidelines. However, it is coming soon so be prepared!

In France, it is illegal to ask if an employee is unionized. It is also strictly forbidden to ask whether the candidate holds an elected office or is part of any association.

Other categories of questions that could be illegal to ask about depending on your country:

  • Genetic characteristics
  • Last Name
  • Residence
  • Economic Situation
  • Existing or Past Conservatorship
  • Bank Location

Never walk into an interview unprepared

From the Job Advertisement draft to the hiring decision, HR knows how to navigate the complexities of lawful hiring. Unfortunately, other parties involved may not be aware and inadvertently ask an illegal question.

When a hiring decision is made based on personal attributes, we all lose.

Have you ever asked an illegal question by mistake?

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