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Can I Ask a Job Candidate About Their Age?

When interviewing prospective candidates there are questions that you should and should not ask. It can be a bit of a minefield so in a series of blogs we help to answer your queries about forbidden interview questions.

Elderly Interview

Age

You should not ask “how old are you?” at the interview stage, but you can probably have a good guess from their CV, especially if they have listed the dates that they sat certain exams like GCSEs, or when they graduated from university.

It is permissible to ask is if they are over the minimum age required for the role (for example, over the age of 18 for bar work). You should not ask an older person if they feel they are due retirement, or how long they think they will be working for.

Application Forms and CVs

Some candidates will include their age on their CV but it’s not a detail you need to make the decision to interview them so it doesn’t matter if they don’t include it.

You shouldn’t ask for someone’s date of birth on an application form as you shouldn’t be influenced by someone’s age when deciding if they are suitable for the job. Some young people have very mature heads on their shoulders, and some older people are very immature. Age should have no bearing on your decision to hire someone and should not be seen to be a factor in you taking a decision as to a candidate’s suitability.

If you want to do an anonymous equality monitoring form you can ask for date of birth or age bracket.

Alternative Questions

Don’t ask: How old are you?

But you can ask: Are you over 18? Or whatever the required minimum age is for the role.

Don’t ask: How long until you retire?

But you can ask: What are your long-term career goals?

Don’t ask: What year did you graduate?

But you can ask: Do you have a degree or similar qualifications relevant to the role? 

If a prospective candidate believes that they didn’t get a job based on their age, they may have a case for age discrimination, whether it that person is young or old. To avoid situations like this, make sure that every question you ask is carefully thought out before the interview starts. Informal interviews can often be dangerous as seemingly light hearted and friendly rapport can quickly stray into grey areas that are potentially discriminatory.

For other questions that can’t be asked please see our blog What Can I and Can’t I Ask During an Interview?

If you are worried about the legality of your interview process, or you are facing a legal challenge by a job applicant, then contact our expert team of employment solicitors at Slater and Gordon. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you.

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