A person’s private life is his or her private business. Who would feel comfortable if a stranger or someone you barely know kept asking how things were at your home. The same applies when you apply for a job. A person’s skills and knowledge are what matter, not whether they are married and how many children they have. In most cases, employers understand this and do not ask unnecessary questions. All employers should know that personal questions should never be asked during a job interview. Unfortunately, some employers still err against this rule.
Let’s see how Katrin handled this awkward situation.
Katrin applies for a job. She is invited for an interview. That’s great! Katrin carefully prepares for the interview. She thinks about what she should say about herself during the conversation. What are her strengths? Katrin is also thinking about what she wants to ask her employer.
The day of the interview arrives. Katrin has done everything she can to feel confident in the interview. The interview is going well. But then comes a question Katrin didn’t expect: “How does your family life affect your work in our company?”
Katrin is confused. She doesn’t know what to say. Should she even answer at all? What does family life have to do with the employer?
Katrin asks the employer what her family life has to do with her applying for the job. The employer does not explain it. Katrin then refuses to answer the question.
Katrin did the right thing. The Gender Equality Act says that employers cannot demand answers to questions that are not work-related. For example, they may not ask about the applicant’s children or pregnancy, or whether they have other family commitments. However, if these questions are still asked, the applicant can ask in return how their family life is related to the job. A job applicant also has the right to politely decline answering questions about their family life. Everyone is equal when applying for a job, regardless of whether they are male or female and regardless of their family commitments.