Interviews are a critical step in getting to know a candidate and determining if he or she is a good fit for a position. Interviewing takes skill, but it also takes preparation and knowledge of human resources law. It’s a fine line between asking a candidate appropriate questions and possibly setting your company up for a lawsuit. Here are some best practices when interviewing candidates:
Keep it Legal: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as other federal and state laws, prohibits employers from discriminating against candidates based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability, citizenship, and age. For example, you cannot ask someone if they attend church or if the candidate is married or planning on having children. To help avoid going off-topic and risk litigation, stick to job-related questions. Focus primarily on the skills and abilities needed to fulfill the position and how a candidate’s experience fits into that equation.
Treat All Candidates the Same: Make sure to consistently ask all candidates the same 10-15 questions. Of course this doesn’t mean that the interviewer won’t move off-script at all, but it is helpful for comparing candidates more accurately. This also helps ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally thereby avoiding any claims of discrimination in a particular person’s interview.
Avoid Promises: When interviewing your candidate, don’t state job duties that aren’t included in the job description or give a false sense of job security. Also, be accurate when describing the company’s future success. Over-embellishing your company’s financial forecast and then falling short of those expectations is just inviting a lawsuit.
Preparation: If team members outside of Human Resources will be interviewing a candidate, it’s best to get them up to speed on appropriate questions and topics to avoid.
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