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  • Writer's pictureSonia Sinha

Illegal Interview Questions

Navigating Interview Etiquette in India: Understanding Illegal Questions and Promoting Fair Hiring Practices.


Job interviews are critical for evaluating candidates' qualifications, skills, and suitability for a role. However, it is important to recognize that there are legal boundaries that must be respected to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for all applicants. In India, several questions are considered illegal to ask during interviews, as they infringe upon an individual's fundamental rights and promote discrimination based on factors such as religion, caste, and more. In this article, we will shed light on these prohibited questions and emphasize the importance of adhering to ethical interview practices.


Understanding the Legal Framework:

India has established legal provisions to protect individuals from discriminatory practices in employment. The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them. Additionally, specific legislation such as the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, further reinforce these protections.


Prohibited Questions in Interviews:

  1. Religion: It is illegal to inquire about a candidate's religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations during an interview. Such questions are considered a violation of an individual's right to freedom of religion and may lead to discrimination.

  2. Caste: Asking about a candidate's caste or sub-caste is strictly prohibited. Caste-based discrimination is a deeply ingrained social issue in India, and interviewers must refrain from perpetuating such biases.

  3. Marital Status and Family Planning: Employers are not allowed to ask questions related to marital status, pregnancy, or family planning intentions. These questions infringe upon an individual's right to privacy and may lead to discrimination against women.

  4. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation: It is unlawful to inquire about a candidate's gender identity or sexual orientation during an interview. Respecting an individual's privacy and promoting inclusivity are essential for fair hiring practices.

  5. Age: Questions about a candidate's age or date of birth are generally considered illegal, except in cases where it is a bona fide occupational requirement, as specified by the law.

  6. Disability: Asking about a candidate's disability, health conditions, or medical history is prohibited. Companies should focus on assessing an individual's ability to perform the job tasks with reasonable accommodations, rather than making assumptions based on their disabilities.

Promoting Fair Hiring Practices:

To ensure ethical and inclusive hiring processes, organizations should:

  1. Educate Interviewers: Employers should provide comprehensive training to interviewers, emphasizing the legal boundaries and educating them about appropriate interview questions and practices.

  2. Develop Job-Relevant Criteria: Interviews should focus on assessing candidates' qualifications, skills, and experiences directly related to the job requirements. Avoid questions that may lead to bias or discrimination.

  3. Use Structured Interviews: Structured interviews with standardized questions for all candidates help ensure fairness and consistency in the evaluation process.

  4. Encourage Diversity and Inclusion: Organizations should strive to build diverse and inclusive workforces by actively promoting equal opportunities for all applicants, regardless of their background.

Conclusion:

Respecting legal and ethical boundaries during job interviews is vital to uphold the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusivity in India. Prohibited questions related to religion, caste, marital status, and other protected characteristics have no place in a fair and unbiased hiring process. Employers must remain vigilant, adhere to the legal framework, and promote a culture of inclusivity to create a level playing field for all applicants. By doing so, we contribute to a more equitable society and unlock the potential of diverse talent in the workplace.

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