Can Recruiters ask about mental health at an interview?

By David Dou

Can Recruiters ask about mental health at an interview?

We start off mental health awareness week with a post covering the most important topic that faces Recruiters at the earliest stages of the recruitment process – the legality of mental health-related questions during the interview process.

Mental health is a difficult question to bring up at interviews. Many organisations are afraid to go anywhere near the topic due to the possible legal repercussions. The Equalities Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate based on disabilities, with mental health falling under the category.

This makes it illegal to base a hiring decision on the candidate’s responses to questions related to mental illness. Candidates are also not obligated to disclose mental health issues at interviews, even if they are asked.

Mental health-related questions during the recruitment process are only allowed in these circumstances:

  • If the role has a legitimate need to carry out mental health screening i.e. for national security purposes
  • When there is concern on the candidate’s wellbeing during the recruitment process or their employment
  • To find out if they are able to deal with the potentially stressful or hazardous work environments
  • To find out if reasonable adjustments need to be made for the application process

Mental health-related questions are only allowed during the onboarding process in the form of health questionnaires, if a job offer has been made and accepted. All responses provided regarding mental health should be used to offer available support for the employee. Options such as flexible working hours, adjusted work-loads or extended sick leave can all be used to accommodate employees with mental health issues.

Being aware of mental health issues and providing an accommodating environment will have a positive effect on staff performance and retention, cutting down on absenteeism and staff turnover.


Simon Bean – Recruitment Connection

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