Old Style Question and Answer

A fundamental asset to any employer is their staff. A competent and cohesive workforce translates into effective work practices, ultimately leading to greater profits. Hence it pays for an employer to invest both time and money at the initial stage of a productive workforce; namely, the job interview.

Nailing the Interview Process

Employers need to be respectful, professional, and fair, when interviewing potential employees. It is imperative that an employer gets this process right. As a consequence, it is highly likely that it will pay dividends in the future with lower staff turnover.

The interview is a place where respect should be mutually administered, especially considering you both ostensibly want the same thing; a mutually beneficial relationship between employee and employer. So to be an effective employer, one must tread carefully when deciding what to ask in the interview. You need to ensure that the interview is conducted fairly and not on discriminatory grounds.

Hence there are precautions to take during an interview; namely, asking the right questions – more importantly, not asking the wrong ones. This is not the 1950’s, and so all questions and characteristics identified, to be an effective and competent employee, should be genuinely required to carry out the job.

For example, asking someone’s ethnicity has nothing to do with their ability to successfully carry out a task, despite what inner biases one might possess. There is no certainty that the interviewee knows the rules as well as you, and so it is incumbent upon you to abide by them as best you can.

Many developed countries are a melange of different cultures and ethnicities. This makes for a diverse range of potential employees. This however, should not inform your decision, nor the questions you ask.

People are protected against discrimination under either federal/state law, or under the Declaration of Human Rights. Admittedly, these are vulnerable to different interpretations, however, it is prudent of an employer to err on the side of caution; not only ethically, but also for their own self-interest.

What you should and shouldn’t ask?

There are various questions that even the most tactfully bereft employer would shudder to ask; how much do you weigh? What country were you born in? Do you have any debt? It should be obvious to all employers that these are absolute no-go zones. Other questions, though seemingly innocuous, may not be as apparent to employers as illegal.

For instance, the position may require the applicant to work Sundays or certain religious holidays. Simple right? Just inquire as to their religion, and then deduce their availability based on this. Wrong! An applicant does not have to disclose this level of personal information and are perfectly entitled to refuse to answer.

You are however permitted to ask less intrusive, though still relevant, questions such as, “can you work Sundays”? Granted, you are essentially achieving the same end, through different means; and this might be considered by some to be over-sensitive, but it is a fundamental right to not be judged based on your faith.

Another example is asking someone as to their marital status. This may seem a pointless question, but if the interview is less formal, or becomes less formal due to flowing discussion, it is not outrageous to think that this question may be asked. You may simply be trying to infer the amount of overtime the potential employee may be able to commit to; the supposition being, a single person could stay longer, as they have less responsibility at home. Again, this may look harmless, but the reasons behind the law are varied and complex.

One such aspect of questions about one’s marital status is an employer may be able to discern the sexual orientation of an employee. One’s intentions may be pure, but it can open the door to the more discourteous employer to discriminate based on their ideological beliefs.

Being Respectful during Recruitment

The questions mentioned above, and several others to do with age, race, gender and children could seem perfectly reasonable to any employer; they might even garner some pertinent information regarding the applicant’s capacity to succeed in the position.

However, an employer must resist the urge to collect information in this fashion. A resume would usually have no information regarding one’s religion, sexual orientation, or their country of birth; yet employers manage to shortlist on just this.

Employer’s need to take the same ‘blind’ approach to interviews. Just think, for every time an employer declines someone based on any characteristic or trait that could be considered discriminatory, they are missing out on a potential star employee. So go in with an open mind, and look for the skills and experience that will facilitate the growth and success of your business.