Surviving the Interview Minefield

Applicants, and not simply employees, enjoy various legal protections even through the recruitment and pre-hire process. Employers must therefore focus on the many legal protections, especially the protection against discrimination in the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process. There are numerous traps for the unwary employer [to avoid].

Interviewing a prospective employee isn’t comparable to speed dating, so invest some time and become careful. There’s too much to be gained within an interview by posing methodical and well-thought-out questions.

Plan the Interview

Here are a few important steps to make sure a competent and effective interview process:

  • Does the individual applying for the positioning have all of the requisite skills and minimal educational background for the positioning? If not, don’t waste your time and effort interviewing them.
  • Review the applicant’s application, r?sum? and any other information that the applicant provided. Make certain all portions of the application form are filled out. Search for inconsistencies between your application and the r?sum?, and also gaps in employment. If you discover inconsistencies or gaps, make sure to ask the applicant about any of it. She or he could have a logical explanation, or offer you cause to be cautious in hiring this person.
  • If you will be conducting a reference check and/or background check, perhaps you have, pursuant to the Fair CREDIT SCORING Act, informed the applicant of the procedure and informed her or him an acceptable background report is a prerequisite to employment?
  • If you’ll need a health check and/or drug screen, gets the applicant been informed that successful completion of the are also conditions of employment?

There’s a whole lot that may be lost when it comes to both money and time if the screening process is significantly less than adequate. A few of the danger areas to consider include claims of discrimination, violation of privacy and negligent hiring.

"But I Didn’t Mean Anything because of it!"

Most of us just talk sometimes. We say things that are simply just forgotten almost as soon as they’re out of our mouths. Employment interview is certainly not the place because of this type of conversation. You could be sure if you ask a job candidate a question, see your face believes you really value the answer. And regulations will back up a job candidate on that conclusion.

Illegal interview questions will get a company into trouble. In the event that you make a discriminatory statement or ask a discriminatory question during an interview, it isn’t something the applicant will probably forget when see your face isn’t offered the work. That discriminatory statement will be utilized as proof discrimination if the applicant decides to declare that is the reason the work was not wanted to them.

You need to have a credible explanation of why you made the statement and just why nothing was meant because of it. That explanation should be believed by a judge, a jury or an administrative agency. You need to be in a position to clearly and logically explain the reason why you thought we would hire the individual that got the job–and why you didn’t hire the individual who’s now claiming a legally impermissible reason was why they didn’t get the work. Always be in a position to state the legitimate, non-discriminatory, business reason behind your hiring decision.

Just what a lot of work! You will want to just ensure that discriminatory statements or questions never make it in to the appointment? It’s such an improved approach. Unless you have to know the answer, or whether it’s better not to learn the answer, then don’t ask the question.

The main element is to keep all interview and application questions linked to the job involved. If the question doesn’t assist you to evaluate whether this applicant may be the right person because of this job, then don’t ask it. Straying out of this fundamental goal could easily get you into legal trouble.


A lot more than 40 years back, Congress enacted a law called Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A couple of years later came this Discrimination in Employment Act and, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act. These laws prohibit discrimination predicated on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age and disability.

Title VII and the ADA cover all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions that employ 15 or even more individuals. These laws also cover private and public employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor management committees controlling apprenticeship and training.

The ADEA covers all private employers with 20 or even more employees, state and local governments (including school districts), employment agencies, and labor organizations.

As well as the federal anti-discrimination provision discussed briefly above, individual states have passed their own laws prohibiting discrimination, a few of which provide broader protection to employees compared to the federal laws. For instance, categories like genetic traits, gender identity, sexual orientation and marital status are protected in a few states furthermore to those included in the federal laws.

Just what exactly does all of this mean to you if you are hiring? Don’t ask questions or encourage discussion of these topics. Why would you intend to? None of these areas have anything regarding what you’re hiring you to definitely do. Adhere to the areas you truly value, including these:

  • What’s their educational background?
  • What part of their education best prepared them for the job?
  • What recent work experience have they had that best prepared them for the job?
  • What special skills do they have for the job that are not reflected within their resume
  • Can they inform you of their recent work experiences that will assist them perform the job better?
  • The type of past success have that they had?
  • What unique qualities will they bring to the work?
  • Are they open to work if you want them?

Ten Questions to Absolutely Avoid During Interviews

  1. How old are you? It generally does not really matter if you don’t are casting a teenage sitcom. Don’t make an effort to be sly about any of it, either, with questions like: "When did you graduate from senior high school?" "When were you born?" "You are a comparable age as me, right?" Each of them may be used to establish an age discrimination claim if the individual isn’t hired and actually is 40 years old or older.
  2. Perhaps you have ever been arrested? In the usa, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Any questions regarding arrests that didn’t create a conviction ought to be avoided, as should any questions regarding police records which have been sealed, eradicated or expunged. Actually, even actual convictions shouldn’t necessarily disqualify someone from employment. Convictions could be taken into account while making the employment decision, but factors like age during the offense, seriousness and nature of the offense, and if the person was rehabilitated should all go in to the decision-making process.
  3. Where were you born?How did you understand how to speak English so well? Any question that elicits someone’s country of origin, lineage, ancestry or nationality, are illegal. The main one appropriate question to ask is founded on immigration requirements: "Are you prevented from working in the usa due to your visa or immigration requirements?" Likewise, don’t touch upon their charming accent or the initial spelling of their name. Also, don’t ask these questions about the applicant’s spouse or relatives.
  4. Perhaps you have ever filed a workers’ compensation claim? Questions involving filing workers’ compensation claims aren’t a valid basis to create an employment decision. Regulations provides this fix for injured workers. Penalizing someone for exercising such the right is illegal.
  5. Are you disabled? Employers shouldn’t make any inquiries about medical ailments, disabilities, the volume of sick time a job candidate took from a prior job, or require a job candidate to take a health check prior to making a conditional offer of employment.
  6. Just how many children have you got? This question does not have any relevance to anything in employment interview. You will see the family photos on the desk in due time. Show patience.
  7. Are you married? Single? Divorced? Engaged? Likewise, these questions haven’t any place within an interview, particularly if you are–or can appear to be–asking for personal reasons. Don’t go there. Under some states’ laws, employers are strictly responsible for managers’ and supervisors’ sexual harassment. Which means in the event that you do it in fact it is proven, you, as a realtor of the business, have brought a liability against the business.
  8. Are you pregnant? Do you intend to be pregnant? Pregnancy discrimination is a kind of sex discrimination. It really is illegal for an employer to won’t hire a job candidate because she actually is pregnant if she actually is in a position to work and is qualified for the positioning. Once you have the data that someone is pregnant and you do not hire them, it is extremely difficult to convince a jury that you didn’t take that fact into consideration at all when coming up with the hiring decision. Do not to know rather than to need to defend yourself.
  9. What’s your religion? There is actually no reason to speak about this either. Should you be worried about covering all work shifts, then simply explain whenever your company is open, and have if the applicant could work all shifts.
  10. What’s your sexual preference? No you need to ever ask this within an interview–but they have. Do not become among the statistics.

The overall rule is that employers must avoid questions through the recruitment, application and interview process that want applicants to reveal information regarding their protected characteristics. Here are some more examples:

  • Do you will need any accommodations to execute your task? Note, however, that it’s acceptable to ask a job candidate, "If hired, would you perform the fundamental functions of the work, with or with out a reasonable accommodation?"
  • What language do you speak in the home? Employers can enquire about language skills only when relevant to the work (for instance, international relations position, interpreter).
  • What’s your mother tongue? (ethnicity, national origin)
  • What’s your maiden name? (marital status)
  • How did you get that name? (ethnicity, national origin)
  • Who’ll take care of your loved ones? (marital status)
  • Which holidays how about to remove? (religion) Note, however, that employers generally can ask if the applicant is open to focus on weekends or evenings under certain circumstances.
  • What’s your height and weight?

Employers must avoid discrimination in the recruitment and application process. Therefore, in searching for applicants, in communications with recruiters and headhunters, and in job postings, want ads, advertising and job descriptions, employers should avoid statements including the following:

  • "Employer searching for a thoughtful but aggressive woman as an assistant."
  • "Employer looking for somebody who takes a pastime in her work."
  • "Employer desires a salesman [use "salesperson" or "sales representative"], waitress [server], stewardess [flight attendant], fireman [firefighter]…"
  • "Employer desires a recently available [college or high school] graduate." This could be viewed as age discrimination.
  • "Employer desires a person service girl without accent" implicates the employer on gender and ethnicity/national origin discrimination.
  • "Employer desires a ‘family man’ or a single/married employee" can instigate marital status discrimination claims.

Careful recruitment and interview planning will go quite a distance toward avoiding claims of unfair treatment or discrimination. In addition they are certain to get you off to an excellent start with promising new employees.

For more help wading through the legal minefield of employee relations, read Hiring and Firing available from Entrepreneur Press.

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