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Can An Interviewer Ask if You Are Married?

Couple getting married

So you've created the perfect CV and cover letter, and you've secured a job interview. You've rehearsed answers for all the questions you're likely to be asked, and you feel confident and well-prepared. You arrive at the interview early and you're answering all of the questions they throw at you, but then you're hit with a curveball: "Are you married or single?"

It may not be the sort of topic you'd expect to come up in a job interview, but it's surprising how often interviewers quiz candidates about their relationship status. Is this even legal? Can an interviewer ask whether or not you're married? And what difference does it make if you are?

Why would an employer care about my marital status?

There are many reasons why an interviewer might ask if you're married, but the most common reason is to get an idea of how committed you'll be to your new role. Some employers believe that unattached workers will show a higher level of job dedication than those who are married or in a serious long-term relationship.

Obviously, any sensible business owner wants their staff to be committed to the cause. But are interviewers actually allowed to ask you if you are married?


What the law says

Employment lawyers will tell you that asking a candidate whether they're married or planning to have children is inappropriate - but not, technically speaking, illegal.

However, there are restrictions in place to prevent prospective employers from using this personal information against you. The 2010 Equality Act prohibits companies from treating an individual less favourably as a result of their sex, sexual orientation, marital status, or plans to start a family.

If you do find yourself being asked this question during a job interview, the best thing to do is remain calm and point out to the interviewer that you do not consider your marital status relevant to the position that you're applying for. Being asked such a question may lead you to consider whether or not the employer is right for you at all, and it could even form the basis for a discrimination claim.

If you feel that you have grounds for a discrimination claim, the best course of action to take is to seek legal advice as soon as possible. You can find more information on this on the Citizen's Advice website.


How HRS can help

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we want you to be as prepared as possible when you arrive at a job interview. By visiting our page below, you can gain a great understanding of the types of inappropriate questions that some employers may ask you, along with a few interactive statistics surrounding these.

Inappropriate Interview Questions >

Here is what our Managing Director Ricky Martin has to say on inappropriate interview questions:

"It's pretty shocking to unearth that such practices are happening every day in the hiring process. It is imperative for British bosses to be educated on workplace practice in order to put a stop to such shocking and illegal interview practices, which lead to unprecedented inequality.

"It's also really important for a light to be shone on what is and isn't acceptable in the recruitment process to give prospective employees the best possible chance of success at the interview stage.

"This research isn't about suggesting the recruitment process should be made easier for interviewees, but ensuring that all prospective employees are given a fair, legal and honest opportunity to secure a job based on their skills and ability - and not their gender, personal choices or maternity/paternity choices!"

More Interview Advice >

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