The Equalities and Human Rights Commission published a report earlier this year in which they found that 70% of bosses think women should declare they’re pregnant when applying for jobs. What’s more is that one in four hiring managers feel that its fair to ask candidates about their plans to have children. Aren’t these really inappropriate interview questions?

It’s not surprising that women globally are 3 times more likely to be asked an inappropriate interview question as compared to their male counterparts. You can only imagine this would be higher in frontier markets where there’s no law against it.

Where These Questions Come From?

Managers justify asking inappropriate interview questions by presenting their agony of losing talent and then having to rehire. They claim that hiring women ‘knowingly’ would help them be prepared to replace them when the time arises. In reality, a sizable number of women aren’t hired based on the responses they’ve given to inappropriate interview questions. Almost seems like these questions are tailored to knock out female candidates.

The basis of these inappropriate interview questions is the assumption that women leave their jobs for two main reasons:

  • To start their married life
  • To take care of their children

This trend may have been true a decade ago, but it’s fast changing, particularly with millennials. And yet most women are generally asked the same set of inappropriate interview questions.

What Are Appropriate Interview Questions?

I agree losing talent is challenging, but does that mean we should resort to inappropriate questioning? Not the least bit. Positions are filled by talented individuals, irrespective of their gender, religion or ethnicity. And hence, in line with this belief, managers should have consistent and uniform and should avoid inappropriate interview questions. The questions asked should be relevant to all candidates, irrespective of their gender.

Here are two ‘appropriate’ questions to ask that’ll give you adequate insight about the candidate without making them feel cornered.

1. Do You Attribute Your Success to the Role Played by Mentors or Role Models?

This question will help you understand the foundation of the candidate. Who’ve been the key figures in their lives that have driven them to this point in their careers? Who they seek strength and guidance from? And when they’ve elaborated on that person and the role they’ve played, you’ll be able to understand the career choices the candidate has made to reach here and their motivators.

2. Do You Have Your Sights on Next Generation Women?

Sure the candidate may have worked hard to get to this stage in their careers where they are being interviewed by you, but that’s the present. You as hiring managers also want to learn about the candidate’s aspirations, goals and career desires. You want to make sure the person you bring into your team is driven and wants to achieve more in their careers. You want to hire a leader!

Inappropriate interview questions can be unnerving and unsettling for candidates. It can also be counter-productive from an employer’s perspective as it could adversely impact your brand. Always remember that your interview questions should be designed in a way that’s appropriate for anyone to answer. Uniformity and consistency is key to ensure your culture and workforce reflects the values of an equal opportunity employer.