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Home Work life guide page Equal treatment What should you not ask in a job interview?

What should you not ask in a job interview?

Bad recruitment experiences may include, for example, inappropriate job interview questions. For example, what can such inappropriate job interview questions be? Below we will go through some of the different forms of discrimination that come up in job interviews. During the job interview, you can ask questions that are necessary from the perspective of the position you are applying for. The questions are used to assess the job seeker’s suitability and competence for the position.

The Non-discrimination Act contains provisions prohibiting discrimination. No one shall be discriminated against on the basis of their

  • age
  • ethnic origin
  • nationality
  • language
  • religion
  • beliefs
  • opinions
  • political activities
  • trade union activity
  • family relationships
  • health
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • or any other personal reason.

Family matters

“Are you planning to have children?”

“You’re not going to take paternity leave, are you?”

According to the Equality Act jobseekers may not be placed in a different position on the basis of parenthood or family care obligations.  Family matters (family relationships or marital status) may not be asked in informal discussion or in such a way that answering questions is “voluntary” for the employee. If the employer asks about the family situation during the interview, the employer will later have the burden of proving that there is no discrimination based on gender and that the employee’s response has not influenced the selection decision.

However, it should be noted that the Equality Act does not restrict the employer’s right to choose the person they deem most suitable for the position. The purpose of the Act is to prevent discrimination based on gender in a situation where a person with less merit on the basis of gender would be selected for the position. In addition, in a situation where the work involves a long posting abroad, it may be appropriate to ask about the family, for example, for the child’s daycare centre.


“Otherwise you would be a good fit, but we are looking for a youthful addition to our youthful team.”

“So you didn’t really have an age on that resume.”

At the same time as society is constantly discussing the weakening dependency ratio and there is a desire to raise the retirement age, many people experience age discrimination in working life.

Age discrimination can be experienced by people of all ages. For example, a young woman may not be a desirable recruit because the employer is worried about the costs of family leave. A man in his fifties may be presumed to be change-averse even if he is the most qualified at using the new software needed by the employer. Stereotypes often play a role when people apply for jobs, and employer representatives are not always even aware of their own prejudices when, for example, a middle aged jobseeker comes to a job interview.


The job should not have unreasonable language requirements if it is not needed for the job. For example, the requirement of Finnish language proficiency the native level could be questioned if the working language of a national export company is English. The employer may also have prejudices, for example, about a jobseeker with a darker skin colour and a foreign-sounding name than the average Finn. However, the jobseeker may be a Finnish-born person who speaks Finnish as their native language and whose employer does not hire them simply because of their own prejudices.

What to do if you experience discrimination when applying for a job?

During the job interview, you can ask questions that are necessary from the perspective of the position you are applying for. The questions are used to assess the job seeker’s suitability and competence for the position. Health information may also be requested if it has an impact on the performance of duties.

Inappropriate questions in a job interview situation are often difficult to prove. In order to better understand the extent of the phenomenon, report any discrimination you encounter in a job interview situation either to the Ombudsman for Equality (discrimination based on gender), the occupational safety and health authorities (other discrimination) or to our legal advisory service.

Education tips on the topic

You can also learn more about the topic in the online working life training library, which is part of your member benefits. To access the courses, you must sign up to the online training library. If you have already taken advantage of your free membership benefit and started using the service, log in and click directly to the trainings from the links below. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so in the Webinars and Courses section in the Oma+ service for our members

Legal pitfalls of recruitment – Job interview

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