Thu, Oct 24, 2013
Ed Zalewski is an editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a nationally recognized compliance resource company that offers products and services to address the range of responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals. Zalewski specializes in employment law issues such as discrimination and harassment, overtime, exemptions, and labor relations. He is the author of three guidance manuals (Employment Law Essentials, Employee Relations Essentials and Fair Labor Standards Act Essentials). For more information, visit www.jjkeller.com and www.prospera.com.
It’s sometimes confusing to know just what employers can or cannot ask during a job interview, and what firms should do with sensitive information that a candidate offers.
There are some questions that are never acceptable for employers to ask before making a job offer (and in some cases, even after). These include questions on marital status, religion, nationality, union membership, political affiliations, if the candidate has ever filed a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit, whether the candidate has children, and so on. These questions have nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to perform the job.
If the candidate offers information that the interview is not supposed to ask about or use in the hiring decision (such as the person’s daycare arrangements, recent divorce, or back injury), the interviewer must simply tell the candidate that the information isn’t relative to the job and won’t be used in the hiring decision, and should get the interview back on track.
Companies also should be wary of offering promises. It is not unheard of for an interviewer to tell a candidate, “If you work out, within a year or two, you’ll be promoted.” If the candidate takes the job based on that promise of advancement and it doesn’t happen, he or she could sue for breach of an oral contract, and could very well win.
Interviews done right
With those thoughts in mind, here are some guidelines that employers should follow (and job candidates should be aware of) in order to keep the interview process not only legal, but successful: