Five Quick Hiring Tips

October 3, 2008

I recently came across an article titled “30 Interview Questions You Can’t Ask and 30 Sneaky, Legal Alternatives to Get the Same Info” on HR World, which caused quite a stir.  Check out the article and the comments at http://www.hrworld.com/features/30-interview-questions-111507/.

 

Why all the outrage in the HR community?  The article, although filled with good information, was presented as a way to use legal questions in order to try to trick the applicant into revealing information that we can only assume would allow the interviewer to make a hiring decision based on discriminatory criteria.

 

The bottom line is this, the EEOC does not mandate what questions can be asked in an interview.  The interview (and its questions) is not the issue; it is what criteria you use to make the hiring decision that matters.  You should hire the most qualified person for the position using only criteria that makes sound business sense for the position in which you are hiring.

 

Here are five quick tips to keep your hiring legal and to get the right person for the job.

 

  1. Take the time to create a detailed job description.  This should include the physical requirements for the job, the hours and travel needs, the required skills, experience, and education needed to perform that job, and the personal attributes that are aligned with the business’s desired value and culture (to ensure organizational fit).
  2. Use the job description to create a structured interview.  A structured interview simply means one in which every applicant is asked the same questions.  This is a best practice because it ensures consistency which can help to keep the interviewer on the right track, and gives you consistent criteria to compare in order to make the best decision in the end.
  3. Take notes.  These notes should be kept for one year.  If you are ever questioned about a hiring decision it is imperative that you are able to look back at the notes from every candidate for that position to show why you made the decision that you made, again, based on business need.  One word of caution – only write notes that have to do with the business criteria.  Do not jot down things that could be construed as discriminatory such as; has three kids, will be ready for retirement in three years, overweight, etc.
  4. Don’t go it alone.  Always have more than one interviewer present during an interview.  This will not only protect you in a he-said/she-said situation but can also negate the affects of stereotyping or hiring from your gut.  The other person will help to balance you out by giving you another perspective.
  5. Don’t stereotype.  Everyone does it to some extent or another but in an employment decision it can get you in trouble and will not yield you the best employee for the job in the end. 

 

Here’s an example:  you are hiring an account supervisor who needs to be available to travel with very little notice.  You interview Sue who mentions her six kids during idle chit-chat with the receptionist and you overhear.  Next, you interview Bob who is a 20 something bachelor.  You assume that Sue might have a hard time picking up at the drop of a hat where Bob will be available whenever you need him.  However, the reality is that Sue’s husband is a stay-at-home dad and Bob is responsible for his elderly mother and can not travel overnight.

 

If a job has a particular requirement such as travel, heavy lifting, long hours, physically challenging environments, or whatever.  Make them clear during the interview and ask (every applicant) if they can meet that requirement.  When they answer, take them at face value.

 

Remember, interviewing is not easy.  Even the most seasoned of HR professionals makes a bad hiring decision from time to time.  However, by taking a systematic approach and using tools such as the job description, structured interview questions, pre-employment tests, and background and reference checks you can increase your chances of a good hire by up to 80%.

 

People Wise is here to help.  Check out these tools and more on our website at www.pwhrm.com.

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