Interviewing is an important part of the job lifecycle. Often, it is the first official exposure a potential employee has to a prospective employer. It doesn’t matter whether the people you hire are in high demand or high volume, it is important to get it right.

An employer looks to hire the best people available to them in just the same way as prospective employees look for the best possible job opportunities. Even in the current economic climate, the interview is a two-way process where first impressions count and no employer wants to lose good people to competitors.

As an interviewer, you should always be cautious about the questions you ask. Are they relevant? Are they suitable for the role you are interviewing for? Recently, the legality of questions about medical conditions and the state of a candidate’s health has been thrust into the spotlight.

Prior to October 2010, there were no restrictions on such questions. However, that all changed with the introduction of the Equality Act which prohibited employers from asking candidates health-related questions unless the nature of the role justifies it, until such time as a job offer has already been made. Examples of such questions include…

  1. Have you had problems with your back in the last couple of years?
  2. Do you have arthritis?
  3. How many days of sickness absence have you had in the last year?
  4. Have you ever suffered from depression?

The way in which the relevant provisions in the Equality Act are drafted means that there will be a presumption that any employer who asks such health-related questions prior to making a decision about whom to appoint, and then fails to appoint a disabled candidate, will be guilty of disability discrimination and have to prove that there were other reasons for the decision not to appoint that were not related to his or her disability.

As defending a claim of this type is likely to be difficult, time consuming and costly, we would urge any employer planning to ask health-related questions during an interview process to speak to one of our HR specialists beforehand with a view to ascertaining the types of questions they may be able to ask in this regard. For a free no obligation chat on interview techniques, the drafting of recruitment documentation, outsourced recruitment, or any of our HR / employment law services, please contact us on 01942 727200.