Know Your Rights

Before I could respond, he went on to explain that it is quite disruptive to his workplace when his female staff take time off work for child care. I did not receive a job offer, nor did I want one.

Interview questions like this still happen in today’s world. I recently overheard someone in small business who was talking about interview questions. He didn’t want to use the “canned” questions. He wanted to get “real”. He wanted to know if the candidate is married or has children. His intent was harmless but, this could quickly turn into, I didn’t get the job because he asked about (insert from the list below) my husband, my children, my age, my disability etc., etc.

As #hiringmanagers, I understand your desire to “get real” with candidate but there are alternative ways. You want to ensure the candidate will fit in your culture. You want good team dynamics. You want regular and reliable employees. You want friendly, trustworthy and honest team members. Look at what you currently have and what you need to balance or enhance your organization. Focus on these areas. This will allow you to “get real” with your candidates without crossing any discriminatory lines.

Job seekers, let me be clear on this. You DO NOT need to respond to questions about your family status. In fact, there are a number of areas that are no-go areas when it comes to interview questions. Each province and territory has its own provisions as does the Canadian Human Rights Commission.The Ontario Human Right Commission lists the following areas that are prohibited from questioning during a selection process.

⛔ Age

⛔ Ancestry, colour, race

⛔ Citizenship

⛔ Ethnic origin

⛔ Place of origin

⛔ Creed

⛔ Disability

⛔ Family status

⛔ Marital status (including single status)

⛔ Gender identity, gender expression

⛔ Record of offences (in employment only)

⛔ Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)

⛔ Sexual orientation

Business owners and hiring managers, please take note. Think of the skills and abilities that are necessary for the role you are filling. Ask questions related to that. Inform the candidate of working hours and any other requirements for the job but the above list is off limits.

Michelle Precourt is a Career Coach, Recruitment Expert and Registered Yoga Teacher based in Ottawa, Canada. She has blended her 15 years of recruitment experience with her Hatha and Yin teacher training that provides for a diverse approach in her work. Learn more about Michelle and her work at