How to Interview Legally and Effectively
We all know how litigious our society has become in the area of employment-related issues. Every recruiter, hiring manager, executive, and department manager must realize that asking the wrong interview questions or making improper inquiries can lead to discrimination or wrongful-discharge lawsuits, and these suits can be won or lost based on statements made during the interview process.
Thus, it is important to incorporate risk management into your interviewing process to help minimize your firm's exposure to employment practices liability.
You, or your company, could be accused of asking improper interview questions or making discriminatory statements or comments that reflect bias. It is also possible to make assurances or promises during an interview that can be interpreted as binding contracts. Recognizing these potential danger areas is the best way to avoid saying the wrong thing during an interview.
Most companies have at least two people responsible for interviewing and hiring applicants. It's critical to have procedures to ensure consistency. Develop interviewing forms containing objective criteria to serve as checklists.
They ensure consistency between interviewers, as well as create documentation to support the decision if a discrimination charge is later filed by an unsuccessful applicant.
Interview Problems to Avoid
To minimize the risk of discrimination lawsuits, it’s important for interviewers to be familiar with topics that aren’t permissible as interview questions. For example, you shouldn’t ask a female applicant detailed questions about her husband, children and family plans.
Such questions can be used as proof of sex discrimination if a male applicant is selected for the position, or if the female is hired and later terminated. Older applicants shouldn’t be asked about their ability to take instructions from younger supervisors.
It is also important to avoid making statements during the interview process that could be alleged to create a contract of employment. When describing the job avoid using terms like "permanent," "career job opportunity," or "long term."
Interviewers should also avoid making excessive assurances about job security. Avoid statements that employment will continue as long as the employee does a good job. For example, suppose that an applicant is told that "if you do a good job, there's no reason why you can’t work here for the rest of your career." The applicant accepts the job and six months later is laid off due to personnel cutbacks.
This could lead to a breach of contract claim where the employee asserts that he or she can't be terminated unless it's proven that he or she didn’t do a "good job." Courts have, on occasion, held that such promises made during interviews created contracts of employment.
Ref: Mike Poskey