The hiring process can be very stressful for all parties involved. It is a long and very in-depth process that is purposefully intricate and thorough. However, this should not discourage employers, which may lead to conducting the process halfheartedly. The interview is a benefit to both the business and the candidate (or interviewee), if it is done correctly. Otherwise, it could lead to problems for the business in terms of liability and discrimination. The interviewer has a responsibility to protect candidate confidentiality, while also getting enough information for the business about the candidate. It can be a thin line to walk; however it is very simple to perform correctly.

Nicole Fallon, of Business News Daily, writes about some major missteps that can occur during an interview, highlighting the depth of illegal interview questions. Knowing what you should not ask a candidate during an interview is just as important as knowing what you should ask, and your choice of interview questions for a candidate should reflect that. There are indicative qualities that Fallon highlights in her article that make certain questions illegal. These qualities include anything that can lead to interviewer bias or potential for employer discrimination when making a decision about a candidate. Fallon’s article also compiles a list of illegal questions that are most commonly asked in an interview. Some examples are, “what is your religious affiliation?”, “are you pregnant?”, “what is your political affiliation?”, “do you socially drink or smoke?”, and much more. Most of the time, interviewers do not know that the questions they are asking are illegal, and therefore do not have any harmful intentions as they are just “following a protocol”. In this case, you may learn information that you are not supposed to as a work professional. Fallon stresses that the most important thing to do if this happens is to not make note of what you learned, and to not pursue it any further. Using this information can create liabilities and bias that has no place in business. In the article, Fallon quotes Louise Kursmark in her article on this issue, stating that ” you can’t erase the information from your memory, but you can eliminate it as a discussion point and selection factor”.

In our Kiy HR Perspective, asking the correct interview questions is one of the most integral part of the entire hiring process. This is the stage where the interviewer gets to know the candidate on a more personal level, and getting an idea of how they would fit in their company and environment. Being that it is arguably the most important stage in the process, it is very important to address the potential missteps during an interview. There is a reason that the hiring process is as rigorous and detailed as it is; the interview needs to protect the candidate as much as it does the company. The Alberta Privacy Act is a great way to check if your interview questions are appropriate, and if you are on the right track for complete candidate protection. Moreover, some questions may change their legality depending on the way we phrase them. For example, whereas asking a candidate if their citizenship is illegal, asking them whether they are permitted to work in Canada is fair. We at Kiy HR stress the same values as Fallon does in her article, regarding the use of illegal information learned. Under no circumstances should you use information learned through illegal questions, accidental or not, to influence your decision in hiring a candidate (this includes checking a candidate’s social media). If you are ever unsure, it is important to consult a professional or the Privacy Act. Usually, if you have doubts about the legality or morality of a question, you are right in having them.

We at Kiy HR specialize in recruitment and have many templates that help businesses conduct successful hiring processes. Included in these templates is an Interview Guide, illustrating tips and thorough steps on completing a successful interview for your company. If you would like to know more about the Interview Guide, or any other aspect of the hiring process, please contact us at, or phone us at 780.801.5246. We are happy to help make your hiring process a success!

The Kiy HR Perspective

Fallon, Nicole. “Are You Asking Candidates These Illegal Job Interview Questions?”. Business News Daily, 6 October 2016.

Kursmark, Louise. “Keep the Interview Legal”.


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