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Home » An Employer’s Guide to Conducting Applicant Interviews

An Employer’s Guide to Conducting Applicant Interviews

by | Apr 15, 2023 | Employment Law

One of the issues that many employers overlook is the potential for asking illegal, discriminatory questions when interviewing job applicants. Certain interview questions can be considered discriminatory because they may reveal information that could be used to discriminate against an applicant based on their protected characteristics, such as race, age, gender, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. 

If an employer asks a job applicant about their age, they could use this information to discriminate against the applicant based on their age, which is a violation of age discrimination laws. Similarly, asking an applicant about their religion could be used to discriminate against them based on their religious beliefs or practices, which is a violation of religious discrimination laws.

It is very important for employers to be aware of these laws and to avoid asking questions that could lead to discrimination or bias in the hiring process. Focusing on job-related questions and qualifications is the best way to ensure that the hiring process is fair and equitable for all applicants. Establishing a standard interview process to be followed by everyone is another way to ensure fairness and consistency.

Examples of Questions to Avoid During Interviews

There are certain questions that employers simply should avoid asking job applicants during an interview. Here are few examples:

  • Questions about age: “How old are you?” or “When did you graduate from college?”
  • Questions about race, ethnicity, or national origin: “What is your country of origin?” or “What is your ethnicity?”
  • Questions about religion: “What religion do you practice?” or “Do you attend church regularly?”
  • Questions about marital status or family: “Are you married?” or “Do you have children?”
  • Questions about disabilities: Avoid asking questions about the applicant’s disabilities or health status. For example, “Do you have any medical conditions?” or “Have you ever been hospitalized?”

It is important to focus on job-related questions and avoid any questions that could lead to discrimination. If you are unsure whether a question is appropriate, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid asking it.

Create and Implement a Standard Procedure for Conducting Job Interviews

There are several benefits to having a standard procedure for conducting job interviews. One of the most obvious is ensuring consistency. Having a standardized interview process ensures that all job applicants are evaluated based on the same criteria and procedures, making the hiring process more fair and consistent. This reduces the risk of bias or discrimination in the hiring process. Another benefit is making the interview process more efficient. A standardized process will save time and resources for the employer by streamlining the hiring process and allowing for a more organized interview process. Not to mention that a well-structured and organized interview process can create a positive candidate experience, which can help attract and retain top talent.

A Standardized Process Can Aid in Legal Compliance

Having a standard interview process helps ensure that employers are complying with legal requirements and avoiding discriminatory practices. A standardized interview process can also help ensure that hiring decisions are based on objective criteria and job-related factors, rather than subjective impressions or biases. Overall, having a standardized interview process can help employers create a fair, efficient, and effective hiring process that attracts and retains top talent while complying with legal requirements and avoiding discrimination.

What to Do if You Are Sued by an Applicant for Discrimination

If you are sued by an applicant for discrimination, the first step you should take is to consult with legal counsel immediately. An attorney with experience in employment discrimination law can assess the strength of the applicant’s claims and assist you in developing a defense strategy. Legal counsel will advise that you also preserve all documents and electronic data relevant to the applicant, including personnel documents, job applications, interview notes, and any other documents related to the hiring process.

The next step is to conduct a thorough investigation into the applicant’s allegations of discrimination. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing company policies and procedures, and analyzing employment data. It is important for the employer to take these steps promptly and to work closely with legal counsel to protect their interests and minimize the risk of liability.

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