Are there any illegal job interview questions in Switzerland? asks whether questions about race, religion, etc are illegal in Switzerland like they are in the US. The question is closed with the "legal advice/company policy" reason, but this is information that any HR person or seasoned interviewer in the target locale would be expected to know. That's on the acceptable side of the legal line for this site. Why is this question closed?

(I edited the question for tone, which one comment objected to, but I'm responding to the stated close reason.)

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    I agree with reopening the question, but I also disagree with the user's premise of "these questions are illegal in the US". @Dan points out that the questions themselves aren't illegal in a comment, but I feel like it could be made more clear by editing the question to be "are there categories it's illegal to discriminate against in Switzerland", which I think would still be on-topic, albeit hardly useful for any non-Swiss visitors.
    – Adam V
    Dec 19 '17 at 17:22
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    @AdamV it's a common mistake, which is why I left that aspect of the question alone. A good answer will correct the OP on that point while also (of course) answering the question about Switzerland. If you think making that edit will improve the question, please go ahead. Dec 19 '17 at 17:33
  • @MonicaCellio Hmm, interesting. I wonder if in a case like this we should have some sort of "caveat" or meta-edit on the question to point out that the assumption is actually incorrect. If Switzerland enjoys a similar gray area on this as the US it could indeed be a good intro for an answer but otherwise it's largely besides the point. In fact, perhaps it'd be better to just make that a question on its own since it's a common misconception. If we had that question we could drop a link in a comment and edit the incorrect assumption out.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 19 '17 at 18:58
  • ... presumably because some consider all legal questions off topic, even if it's something someone in HR would be expected to know, or that line is just too blurry. To be fair, the close reason doesn't mention anything about things HR professionals should know being on topic. Dec 19 '17 at 20:43
  • Question was on 3 reopen votes so I've reopened it.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 19 '17 at 20:47
  • @Dukeling Not sure if we should revisit the close reasons but this is the thread we tend to refer to when it comes to the "HR should know the answer to this" clause: What is asking for legal advice?
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 19 '17 at 20:50
  • This wasn't a reopen-request ... why the (Reopened)? Should the reopen-request tag be added to this Q?
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Dec 21 '17 at 20:21

I agree this question should be reopened.

As you said, this is information that any HR professional in Switzerland should know. If this question were asked about the US, I think it would get lots of immediate responses.

To respond to IDrinkandIKnowThings's answer,

1) it is a shopping list question

I disagree. A shopping list question asks for suggestions of products, ideas, etc, with almost no restriction. The number of possibilities in a constantly changing market is going to be near limitless. These questions are also highly opinion-based as there is no single correct answer.

This question does not fit this definition. By asking about legal restrictions, it is asking for a limited set of codified rules and regulations. I would not be able to go create a new product tomorrow that would add to this list. To ask the opposite, for questions that are allowed, would be too broad IMO.

2) It is based no beliefs that are not backed up by reality.

You yourself said it - it is a very common misconception that it is illegal to ask these questions in the US, but that is because use of these questions can been used as as evidence of actual illegal activity (i.e. discrimination). It is completely understandable that the OP would think this, and it doesn't at all change the premise of the question. If a US company asked these questions, I would seriously question the company's ethics and the legality of their hiring practices. The OP then essentially asks which questions would be similarly unacceptable in Switzerland.

Monica also makes a good point in her comment:

A good answer will correct the OP on that point while also (of course) answering the question about Switzerland.

People will get things wrong sometimes - if they knew everything they wouldn't be here asking questions. As long as the misinformation doesn't completely invalidate the question, then just correct them and answer the question being asked.

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    A good answer will correct the OP on that point while also (of course) answering the question about Switzerland. Thats not how SE is supposed to work. We put questions on hold, edit them into shape, and then have them reopened.... But dont let a silly thing like the standard process get in the way. Dec 19 '17 at 18:55
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    @IDrinkandIKnowThings that is not what I have seen on the parts of the network I frequent. People ask the questions they actually have, wrong assumptions and all, and answers correct those assumptions. Were that not the case, there'd never be a question on SO because all the code would work correctly. Dec 19 '17 at 19:00
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    @MonicaCellio Strawman much? Dec 19 '17 at 19:26
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    “it is a very common misconception that it is illegal to ask these questions” maybe in Switzerland. There are several places (including Italy) where it is indeed illegal to ask. They get asked often anyways, but that's a different story. Dec 21 '17 at 0:04

1) it is a shopping list question. It is asking for a list of questions that fit the category of discouraged(assuming edit to bring more on topic) or forbidden by law in Switzerland. That is an SE standard see: Why are "shopping list" questions bad?

2) It is based no beliefs that are not backed up by reality. The belief that it is a violation of the law to ask about someone's gender, heritage, or other protected trait, is illegal is a common, but wrong misconception. It is illegal to discriminate based on these factors, but it is not a violation of any law by itself to ask the question. (If you wish to assert that it is please include a citation that backs up your claim it could be used to edit into the question and give some foundation to make this question on topic)

What could work for this question is:

I am being asked to include the following information on my CV: (list of potentially protected traits) Is this a common expectation? How can I address companies complaining because this is not included in my CV?

But that is a very different question from the one asked.

  • "It is illegal to discriminate ... but it is not a violation of any law by itself to ask the question", how can you possibly know that is the case in any legislation? In France, if someone accuses the recruter to discriminate, he has to prove that the whole interview procedure, including questions, does not discriminate the interviewee due to illegal criteria. Otherwise, he may face a fine and up to three years in prison.
    – Adam Smith
    Dec 27 '17 at 0:04
  • @AdamSmith - Indeed but that question itself does not prove discrimination in any event. But the question referenced US law not French law. Dec 27 '17 at 1:10
  • I am pretty sure he has a case if he can prove something in the lines was asked: "Are you a homosexual?", "Are you pregnant or planning to be?". While he cannot prove by himself the question was asked, he may find other people in the same situation on GlassDoor and gather eyewitness. And as far as I understood we are taking about a situation in Switzerland.
    – Adam Smith
    Dec 27 '17 at 2:52
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    @AdamSmith - What if he hired the homosexual or the pregnant woman? Is it still illegal? The question is not illegal what you do with the information may open you up to liablity Dec 28 '17 at 1:30
  • I understand your point, and it may be possible that in an exceptional scenario the question is not used for discrimination. However, in the majority of scenarios, the interviewer has no reason to ask this question if he does not want to discriminate the candidate based on their answer. And even if you get an offer, it does not mean the company matched the salary/benefits for a person who is planning to have a child, as an example.
    – Adam Smith
    Dec 28 '17 at 15:06
  • This is the same argument used to ban guns. Guns can be used to do bad things so we need to ban guns so that people do not do bad things with them. The words nor question are illegal. Yes just like using a gun you need to be very careful how you use it, but the use of words is never illegal just because they could form some arrangement that looks bad. Just asking that question will not get a lawsuit through summary judgement. Dec 29 '17 at 14:16

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