5 Steps Away From a Failure-to-Hire Lawsuit

Pregnancy Discrimination, Maternal Profiling, Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD), and Mother’s Day.  A natural combination.  You can add one more to that list.  Off-limit interview questions. 


When I teach seminars about best hiring practices, I usually get at least a few dirty looks when I talk about interview questions that should be avoided.  Employers and HR professionals often comment that interviews should be conversational to put the candidate at ease so the interviewer can get to know the “real” candidate.  Not a good idea.

Here’s why:

  1. Every candidate that you interview except one is going to be rejected.  Remember that.  Every candidate except one goes home a loser. 
  2. No one thinks they’re a loser.  No candidate who made it as far as the interview thinks that they shouldn’t get the job. Of course they should get the job! 
  3. When rejected, blame-shifting is inevitable.  Do the logic.  If they were sure they were hiring-material but they don’t get hired, what can be the explanation?  Someone else made a mistake. (Namely, you, The Employer).
  4. The interview becomes the target.  Well, what else is there?  The candidate had only one face-to-face interaction with The Employer–the interview.  Every word, every gesture, every question is analyzed to try to find what went wrong. 
  5. Lawsuit. 

Sure, nobody likes a story with a sad ending.  But “it’s for your own good,” ok? 

Interviewers (often untrained in employment discrimination) are just trying to make the candidate feel natural and at ease.  They want to know whether the interviewee will be a good fit, whether they have the technical skills needed, whether they understand the job’s requirements, etc.  They aren’t angling for prohibited information. 

But when a candidate doesn’t get hired, every question becomes suspect and the potential starter for a discrimination lawsuit. 

For those of you who want to know how to solve this problem, the best way to find out is to attend one of our seminars, especially those on lawful interviewing.  For now, I’ll say this: Every interviewer at every interview for every candidate should (no, must) use a script of pre-prepared questions.  And that script should be the same one used by every other interviewer for every other interview (at least for the same position). 

Autonomy in interviewing is a bad idea.

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