What employers (may) ask


Findings of a survey on inadmissible questions at job interviews

- Fact sheet on the research project -

Knowledge about the inadmissibility of questions on protected characteristics

  • Many candidates are not sufficiently sensitised to the fact that questions by employers on, or in connection with, the characteristics protected under Section 1 Allgemeines GleichbehandlungsgesetzAGG are generally inadmissible.
  • A clear majority of those surveyed considered questions on their age (86 per cent), nationality or a (serious) disability (72 per cent in either case) to be generally admissible, even though such questions may only be posed in exceptional cases.
  • Furthermore, almost four out of ten respondents (39 per cent) considered asking a female candidate whether she was pregnant to be admissible, even though this is clearly prohibited and the candidate is not required to respond, nor to respond truthfully.

Personal experience with inadmissible questions at job interviews

It appears to be the case that questions about AGG characteristics are posed to a noteworthy degree at job interviews. However, in this respect, the results of the survey can only serve as a rough yardstick as it was not possible, in the context of the survey, to clarify how precisely the question had been posed in the concrete situation and whether, exceptionally, the employer had a justified interest in obtaining the information.

  • In particular, the interviewees reported that they had been asked about their age (52 per cent), their marital status (37 per cent) or their nationality (28 per cent) during job interviews – in other words, about characteristics that are more or less obvious or, frequently had already been mentioned in the written application documents.
  • Six percent of the female interviewees had already been asked by potential employers, in the course of a job interview, whether they were pregnant.

Opinions on anonymised job application procedures

  • So far, very few of those surveyed (6 per cent) had had personal experience with anonymised job application procedures.
  • However, such procedures were predominantly seen as positive:
  • A total of 86 per cent of those interviewed agreed with the argument that, in the case of anonymised procedures, the knowledge and capabilities of the candidate are more likely to be decisive, rather than personal characteristics such as gender, age or origin.
  • On the other hand, the argument posited by critics, according to which enterprises need such personal information in order to find the best possible fit for the post, met with somewhat less agreement (59 per cent).

Furthermore, half of those surveyed (49 per cent) admitted that, personally, the use of an anonymised application procedure would be an additional reason for them to apply for a job with a specific firm.