Illegal Interview Questions in N.Z.

The interview questions you ask should relate to the candidate’s ability to perform the requirements of the job. So questions that dig for information beyond what is relevant to the role are not acceptable.

     Examples of questions that legally cannot be asked are:

  • Are you married?
  • How old are you?
  • What’s your current employment status?
  • Are you pregnant or planning on starting a family?
  • Can you tell me X about your existing or previous employer?  Employees usually owe a duty of confidentiality to their existing/previous employers so you should not ask questions which will result in them breaching their duty of confidentiality.

In most cases, the questions above will be irrelevant to the role.

If you ask about sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political opinions, employment status, age or family status, then you might be discriminating.  However, there are some limited exceptions, for instance where a person must be of a certain age to hold a manager’s license, to enter into certain premises, obtain a permit, or security clearance. An exception also applies for domestic employment in private households.

Questions around disabilities might also be illegal if they do not relate to a candidates ability to perform the job but exceptions will apply if certain physical abilities are essential for the role.

It is an offence for an employer to require or request an individual to reveal clean slated convictions. The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act allows people to conceal convictions that did not result in a sentence of imprisonment, once they have gone seven years without any further convictions.  The law “conceals” rather than wipes the convictions, so full criminal records will still be available for police investigations, court proceedings, firearms licensing, and for sensitive types of employment, such as the care and protection of children. It is still lawful for employers to ask someone to consent to their criminal record being disclosed but if the person has a ‘clean slate’, then no convictions will be revealed.

Jaenine Badenhorst, Senior Solicitor with Rainey Collins

4th July 2018