We all know that this is a very topical subject at the moment. I have no desire to trash out the intentions of Minister John Halligan, I simply would like to provide some points on how to avoid discrimination during an interview.
The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 outlaw discrimination in a wide range of employment and employment related areas, one being the recruitment process. The legislation defines discrimination as treating one person in a less favorable way than another person based on any of the following 9 grounds:
- Gender: this means man, woman or transsexual
- Civil status: includes single, married, separated, divorced, widowed people, civil partners and former civil partners
- Family status: this refers to the parent of a person under 18 years or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability
- Sexual orientation: includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual
- Religion: meaning religious belief, background, outlook or none
- Age: this does not apply to a person aged under 16
- Disability: includes people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions
- Race: includes race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin
- Membership of the Traveller community.
It is up to the employer to understand what classifies as discrimination and to make sure that all employees completing interviews are aware of the same.
From the point of view of an interviewee, you should be confident to say, I am not comfortable to answer that question as I do not feel it is appropriate.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a question is, would you ask this question to each and every person you are interviewing? This is not a foolproof solution, however if you think it is ethically appropriate to ask all candidates, it is a good indication
Asking questions with intent or simply making small talk, however we now live in a society where we need to be ever mindful of legislation.