Interviews, meetings and tests

An interview, meeting or test can help an employer work out if someone is the best person for the job.

Equality law does not say that an employer has to meet someone or interview them before offering them a job.

If an employer does decide to interview you and other job applicants, whether that is face to face or over the phone, or to give you and other applicants a test, then they must not unlawfully discriminate against you in the way they carry out the meeting, interview or test.

Use the list in Avoiding direct and indirect discrimination to make sure you know what equality law says your employer must do to avoid unlawful discrimination.

Examples of what an employer should avoid doing include:

  • asking you questions which make assumptions about you based on your protected characteristics
  • harassing you.

For example:

An employer makes a series of unpleasant ‘jokes’ about an applicant’s race, which create an offensive atmosphere for them.

If you are a disabled person

If you are a disabled person and have said that you need adjustments for the interview, meeting or test, and those adjustments are reasonable adjustments, then the employer must make them.

For example:

An applicant for a job with an employer has a hearing impairment which means that they use a textphone. The employer has asked applicants to take part in a telephone interview. The applicant tells the employer in advance that they will be using a textphone and the UK Text Relay Service, and the employer interviews them in this way. The employer has made a reasonable adjustment.

An employer only needs to make adjustments once they know, or could reasonably be expected to know, that a disabled person is or may be applying for the job.

Once an employer knows that or should have known it, they must take steps to find out whether you need any adjustments and what those adjustments are. This means an employer will need to make sure that all of the interview arrangements allow you to attend and participate effectively, provided these are reasonable adjustments.

For example:

An applicant with a hearing impairment informs the employer that they use a combination of hearing aids and lip reading but will need to be able to see the interviewer’s face clearly. The interviewer makes sure that their face is well lit, that they face the applicant when speaking, they speak clearly and are prepared to repeat questions if the applicant does not understand them. These are likely to be reasonable adjustments for the employer to have to make.

If an employer has not asked whether you need adjustments or if you have not told the employer in advance, the employer must still make the adjustments that you need when you arrive, if it is reasonable to do so.

However, if you did not tell the employer, even though they asked, what is reasonable for an employer to do may be different from what would have been reasonable for them to do with more notice.

For example:

An applicant does not tell an employer they need level access because of a mobility impairment. When they arrive, there are steps to the interview room and no lift. The employer is unable to move rooms at short notice but asks them to attend another day when a room with level access will be available. This is likely to be a reasonable adjustment.

An employer must not change the decision to interview you because when you arrive they discover you are a disabled person. Nor should they change the way they interview you, for example, by cutting the interview short or not testing you in the same way as other applicants (unless the change to the interview is a reasonable adjustment).

You can read more about reasonable adjustments to remove barriers for disabled people. 

More information

Last Updated: 20 Jan 2015