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Can I Ask a Job Candidate Gender Specific Questions?

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


You should steer clear of any questions that are gender specific. You can ask questions about their ability to handle the challenges of the role, but you must never imply that their gender may affect this.

You can recruit for a specific gender if the role requires it, for example a project worker in a female-only domestic violence centre may need to be a woman.

If you interview a candidate that you believe may be transgender you must not ask them about it. If they identify as a man or woman you must not refer to them in any other way than how they identify. Never ask if they have another name and always call them by the name they have put on their application or CV.

Alternative Questions

Don’t ask: We’ve always had a man/woman in this role, how will you handle that?

Do ask: What can you bring to this role?

Don’t ask: It’s mainly a team of men/women, how do you feel about that?

Do ask: What is your experience of working in a team? What is your experience of managing staff?

Don’t ask: What is your gender?

Do ask: Tell us a little about yourself.

Never assume that a man or woman can or can’t do a job purely based on their gender. If you ask a woman questions about their ability to do the job during her interview, then you must ask a man. Make sure all the questions you ask are identical no matter who you are interviewing.

If a prospective candidate believes that they didn’t get a job based on their gender, then they may have a case for discrimination. 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 facing a potential legal situation with a job applicant and you need expert legal advice, please contact our team of employment lawyers at Slater and Gordon. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you.

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