I'm applying for a job in Marketing in England. My potential new manager asked my age on the phone interview. I let it go as he is not originally from here.

But it got to a point where he is now asking my former bosses for things including:

  • My salary
  • Whether I was fired or left (I left),
  • Whether they would re-hire me, and if not why
  • How 'trustworthy, reliable' I am etc.

I thought this was a good opportunity as I have been unemployed for some time now, but am having second thoughts. Is it okay for him to ask these questions? Is this a red flag for what it will be like working at this company?

  • 2
    Asking whether something is legal or not is off topic for this site. The questions you asked including the information sought and its legitimacy is very fact specific and possibly partially depending on factors you haven't mentioned here (such as the type of role you're applying for, which could justify a legitimate interest in obtaining some of the data) – Magisch Mar 20 at 12:21
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    In England. GDPR is quite highly practiced here now, but he isn't from here so I'm not sure as how to guide him or whether to reject the offer to prevent being involved with a company with any future activities that may not be lawful... – Abi Mar 20 at 12:37
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    If you want legal advice (which is what you want it seems), you should take the question to Law – Sourav Ghosh Mar 20 at 12:43
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    @SouravGhosh It depends on the legal question. If it's something that most HR professionals should know the answer to, then it is considered on-topic here. (See this Meta discussion). I think that this question could be acceptable here, though it's not one I personally know the answer to. – David K Mar 20 at 12:50


Asking your age is only allowable if the job requires you to be a certain age to carry it out (e.g. selling alcohol or obtaining certain licenses that have age restrictions) - as you mentioned that it was a Marketing job this is probably unlikely to be the case (not impossible though)


They can ask but as the answer to this counts as personal data, your previous employer shouldn't really answer this without your consent.

whether I was fired or left / whether they would re-hire me / how 'trustworthy, reliable' I am

These are perfectly reasonable questions to ask a reference and there's nothing illegal or unethical about asking them.

  • 1
    Also, your previous employer won’t tell them your salary, because it is their private information, not just yours. – gnasher729 Mar 20 at 13:10
  • @gnasher729 yep.. I'd fully expect most previous employers to point them right back at the candidate. It's a pointless question to ask IMO - 99/100 you aren't going to get an answer so why bother? – motosubatsu Mar 20 at 14:30

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