Career Resources

Interview Black Spots

Interview Black Spots

By The Good Jobs Team, 06 Mar 2017

Interview tips Job seeking strategies

When you're in a job interview, the interviewer calls the tune, and you dance to that tune as well as you can. If you object, they'll angle the light up so it shines into your eyes and say, "Here, I ask the questions." Like it or lump it.

But there are exceptions to this unbreakable rule. Some questions are illegal. Some are so stupid that they should be. If these come up, ask yourself seriously how much you really want the job.

  • They can't ask whether you're married.
  • They can't ask about your political beliefs.
  • They can't ask about your sexuality.
  • They can't ask about your religion (unless they're interviewing you for a position that comes under the exceptions for religion-related jobs - pastor, say, or (more of a stretch) teacher in a religious school).
  • They can't ask how old you are (unless they're checking you're not too young to drive or serve liquor or sign contracts in jobs involving those things).
  • They can't ask about your race or ethnicity (unless you're applying for a job where, say, a connection to indigenous culture is a job requirement; also, they can ask whether you have the right to work in Australia).

There are some questions an interviewer can ask within severely policeable limits:

  • They can ask whether you've got a criminal record. In Tasmania and the Northern Territory, however, it's illegal to take this into account unless the conviction is relevant to the job requirements; traffic offences might not be relevant to an IT job, for example. And you don't have to reveal spent convictions (minor offences more than 10 years old).
  • They can ask whether you've got medical problems if these are relevant to your job performance, although they'd be walking a fine line between that and discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Most not-for-profits know the rules, and want to do the right thing, and are positive about encouraging diversity - but there are some, too, that are based on very specific beliefs, and would like to associate with people who agree with them. That's something you have to take into account.

There's nothing to say you can't bring these points up, whether or not you're asked. You can explain why you want to work for this group, or where you saw the advertisement, or use a number of keywords to demonstrate your links with their chosen model. Bear in mind, though, that this will make it harder to complain if you change your views afterwards.