Employers and recruitment agencies have different ways of finding people for jobs but there are some things they are not allowed to do as it can be discriminatory.

When you are applying for a job, you should be aware of your rights and potential discriminatory behaviour in the employment process.

Job application forms

Job application forms are sometimes used by employers and recruitment agencies to select workers. The form should only ask questions directly related to the skills and qualifications needed to do the job.

Questions about personal characteristics could be discriminatory if they are not relevant to the job.

You should reveal any conditions that would affect your ability to do the job. If you have had health issues or work injuries that won’t affect the job you should say this.

Try these:
- "My health condition does not prevent me from carrying out the duties listed."
- "I will provide further details at an interview."

If the form doesn't say why the employer needs the information, you can leave that part blank. If they later ask why you did this, you could say it wasn't clear why the information was needed, and you wanted to talk to them about it directly.

If you think you have been discriminated against as a result of filling in a job application form, contact us for advice.

Preparing a job application

A job description outlines what you are expected to do in the job and includes selection criteria.

Most employers expect a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and a written response to the selection criteria.

A resume tells a prospective employer about your education, training and work history.

You should not include personal details that could give the employer the chance to unfairly discriminate against you.

Unless you have a specific reason, do not include:

  • a photograph
  • your age or date of birth
  • whether you are single, married or in a relationship
  • whether you have children or are pregnant
  • your religion - unless it is necessary for the position.

If you are short-listed, it should be based on your skills and abilities, not personal characteristics that do not relate to the job.

Responding to selection criteria can be time-consuming and challenging. Here are a few tips to help with your response:

  • Work out how your abilities and skills match each of the selection criteria.
  • Give examples of situations that show your experience and demonstrate your knowledge.
  • Present your responses in sentences where possible or dot points if appropriate.
  • Check whether your response shows that you are the best person for the job.
  • Check your spelling and get someone to double check it for you.

If you think you have been discriminated against as a result of filling in a job application form, contact us for advice.

Job interviews

Employers use interviews to determine the best person for the job, but as an applicant you can use the interview to determine whether you want to work for the employer.

Questions should be focused on your ability to do the job. Usually the interviewer is interested in your past experiences and how you may have responded to different situations.

  • Tell us a little about yourself.
  • What words would you use to describe yourself?
  • Why did you apply for the position?
  • How can you transfer your past experiences and current skills to this position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Provide an example of when you felt you coped well under pressure.
  • Can you talk about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer?
  • Tell me about a time when things weren't going right on the job and how you dealt with the situation.

Some questions should not be asked during a job interview.

Questions about irrelevant personal characteristics may be discriminatory under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 unless they are genuinely related to the your ability to do the job.

  • Do you intend to have children?
  • Are you married?
  • How old are you?
  • Where do you come from?
  • Do you have to wear that head scarf?
  • Have you ever had a Return to Work claim?

If you think you have been discriminated against as a result of questions asked at an interview, contact us for advice.

Employers should refer to the Recruitment section for more details about how to avoid discriminating against potential employees.