Keep Interviews Legal – 3 Criteria to Consider

Keep Interviews Legal – 3 Criteria to Consider
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Do Your Interviewers Know How to Keep Interviews Legal?
Hiring laws were enacted over 40 years ago to give every recruit and potential new hire an equitable chance in the interview process. Unfortunately, job candidates are still being asked illegal, offensive, and irrelevant questions during job interviews.  And the laws around hiring are getting increasingly complex.

Why Every Company Should Keep Interviews Legal
Not only is hiring one of the most important decisions most managers make, but disgruntled applicants are far more likely to file claims if they don’t think the hiring and selection process was fair. Today, managers must develop an interviewing strategy and skill set that will support them in selecting top talent that fits while avoiding toxic employees and mitigating legal risk.

Three Criteria to Keep Interviews Legal
While some companies recommend asking the same questions to every candidate to keep the interview process legal, we do not think that is an effective strategy to truly hire the best fit for the job or for your unique culture.  Here is a quick way to test if your interviewers keep interviews legal. There are three main criteria to consider when deciding whether or not to ask a question in an interview:

  1. Is the Interview Question Job Related?
    Have you prepared a well thought-out and agreed upon Job Description ahead of the interview that outlines the essential job performance objectives, success metrics, and requirements for a successful candidate?   Your interview questions should be designed to determine a candidate’s capability to perform those essential functions.
  2. Is the Intent of the Interview Question Positive?
    What is your intent in asking your question? For example, seeking to accommodate a person with disabilities is a positive intent rather than seeking otherwise illegal information.  For example, you may ask if candidates can perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation.
  3. Is the Interview Question Fair to All?
    Does your interview question fairly consider all candidates without excluding a certain kind of person?  In general, stay away from questions related to age, non-professional affiliations, past alcohol or drug use, culture or natural origin, previous arrests, disabilities, marital and family status, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

If you can answer “yes” to all three criteria, the question is probably OK to use. But if you are in in doubt, we recommend that you leave it out. In other words, if you are not sure whether a question is legal, you are better off not asking it.

The Bottom Line
Your interviewers cannot ask questions that will reveal information that can lead to a biased hiring decision.  Interview questions should be related to job performance, have a positive intent, and be fair to all.

To learn more about how to hire top talent that fits, download Why the Interviewing Process is Flawed – And What to Do About It 

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