Conducting professional and effective interviews with potential employees is not only the best way to find the most qualified employees for your business but it can also protect you against future discrimination claims.
During an interview, you want to gather as much information about the person as possible, while avoiding inappropriate questions that could lead to employment discrimination complaints. Prepare for the interview by having standard job-related questions that are asked of all candidates. This will help avoid any unintentional biases in hiring and, if need be, can serve as evidence that all candidates were objectively evaluated according to the same criteria.
Stick to questions about professional skills, career goals, and previous work experience and steer clear of personal questions about topics like age, family, religion, or nationality. Although these questions seem normal in a social setting, in an interview they can be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.
In the event that an applicant believes that the reason he or she was not hired for a job was because of discriminatory interviewing, a complaint will be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Remember that laws covering equal employment opportunity and discrimination are complex and include both federal and state laws and guidelines, so it’s best to consult an attorney for legal advice if you find yourself in this situation.
Elizabeth Gaudio Senior Attorney, National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation Washington, D.C.