Don’t Touch These Topics in an Interview

Yesterday’s Advisor explored a number of topics to avoid in any job interview. Legal pitfalls during interviews are everywhere, and it’s easy to wander into difficult territory. Today we’ll explore some more common topics to avoid during an interview, and why.

Avoid Asking Anything that Can Lead to Ageism

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age discrimination. As such, this is another one that seems straightforward. However, this can be a tough one to get right because there are many questions that allude to age without asking directly. For example, it’s unnecessary to ask what year someone obtained his or her educational degree—and doing so could be a way to ascertain age.

The exceptions here are simple: Asking whether someone is legally old enough to do the job is acceptable. Asking for specific age usually is not acceptable unless age is a bona fide criterion for the job, which happens, but is rare.

Learn the ups and downs of recruiting assessment tools and technology on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, with a new interactive webinar—Recruiting Assessment Tools and Technology: Better than Interviews? Learn More

Citizenship a Legitimate Worker Does Not Make

Much like national origin, this is an unnecessary question. The key here is that the person is authorized to work in the United States, not that the person is a U.S. citizen. Employers can require work authorization, but not citizenship. In other words, you can ask whether a person is eligible to work in the United States and whether he or she has documentation of that status, but that’s all.

Convictions and Arrests are Not the Same

This is another case where there is an issue of disparate impact. Some protected groups are more likely to have been arrested without being convicted than other groups. Thus, by disqualifying someone based solely on an arrest—not a conviction—an employer risks having a disproportionate impact on a protected group. Obviously, that’s best to avoid.

Not to mention, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. False arrests can and do happen. Arrest records should not be relevant. Even convictions should be considered only if there is a direct relation to the job. Employers need to be careful and consider all aspects of a conviction, including the severity of the action and the time since it occurred.

Don’t Ask About Protected Activities

Some actions such as taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or filing a workers’ compensation claim are legally protected, and employers are barred from discriminating or retaliating against such actions. This also goes for employers hiring someone who has taken such actions with another employer. There’s no reason to ask whether someone has filed a workers’ compensation claim in the past, for example.

The key here is to stick with questions that directly relate to the applicant’s experience, education, and personal characteristics that directly reflect that person’s ability to perform the job well and work well within the organization.

Knowing what to ask during an interview is just part of the complicated hiring process. Perhaps your company makes use of recruiting and HR technology to ease the burden. But is that software really helping. In fact, the question is, how far can you trust technology to make key decisions about whether a candidate is a good fit for your organization?

Technology definitely makes it easier, but is it reliable and/or legal? And might it turn off the very candidates you most want to attract? Fortunately there’s timely help in the form of BLR’s new webinar—Recruiting Assessment Tools and Technology: Better than Interviews? In just 60 minutes, on Wednesday, November 4, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the ups and downs of hiring tools.

Register today for this interactive webinar.

Are recruiting assessment tools and technology worth it? Join us Wednesday, November 4, 2015, for a new interactive webinar, Recruiting Assessment Tools and Technology: Better than Interviews? Earn 1 hour in HRCI Recertification Credit and 1 hour in SHRM Professional Development Credit. Register Now

By participating in this interactive webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Why assessment tools to find the best talent are growing in popularity
  • Worthwhile recruiting assessment tools to consider—and ones to forget
  • How reliable the results from these tools are
  • When and how to combine technology with actual human interaction in the hiring process
  • The legality of using testing tools to hire candidates, including whether some tools inadvertently screen out protected persons
  • What can be done to make the whole interview process more effective—working with the best of technology and human knowledge
  • And much more!

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Join us on Wednesday, November 4, 2015—you’ll get the in-depth Recruiting Assessment Tools and Technology: Better than Interviews? webinar AND you’ll get all of your particular questions answered by our experts.

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Train Your Entire Staff

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