Hiring Tips

           My husband, Rohn, heard a wonderful speaker from West Texas A & M’s career center the other day. She said that most employers spend less than one minute on each application they review. No wonder job seekers need a very eye-catching resume.

            I hope that, as an employer, your initial review of a huge stack of applications is the only part of the hiring process you perform so quickly. Hiring can be fraught with liability dangers for employers with 15 or more employers. Taking your time to “hire right” is just practicing smart legal preventative medicine.

Here are some tips on reducing any employer’s chances of violating employment laws during hiring:

            Have one well-trained manager who does all of your hiring for you. Letting each supervisor do their own interviewing will surely result in one of them asking the wrong question or hiring the wrong candidate because they had a “gut feeling” about the applicant.

            Take the time to draft a job description for the position before you start advertising it. You have to know what duties need to be performed before you try to find the right person to perform them.

To protect yourself from a disability discrimination claim, include the essential physical and mental requirements in the job description. That way, the applicant himself can evaluate whether he can perform a job that requires frequent lifting of 50 pounds or more, constant ladder climbing or a noisy, busy environment with lots of customer contact.

Outline your interview questions ahead of time so that each applicant is asked the same questions and you can then easily compare the candidates. Focus only on job-related questions in the interview. Good interviewers will ask questions like:

·         How did the best manager you ever had motivate you?

·         How have you resolved conflicts with others in your past jobs?

·         What jobs have been the most satisfying/frustrating for you and why?

·         What have you learned from your mistakes?

·         What have you done that was innovative?

·         Why should we hire you?

·         What do you think it takes to be successful at a company like ours?

·         What do you hope to find at our company that you don’t have now?

Of course, there are also areas that you should completely avoid during interviewing:

·         Race or color (don’t request photographs);

·         Marital status, including where the applicant’s spouse works, whether she has children and what her daycare arrangements are;

·         Age, including date of birth or when he graduated from high school;

·         Religion, including “Where do you go to church?”;

·         Union membership or affiliation;

·         Criminal arrests (but you can ask about convictions);

·         National origin or ethnicity of the applicant (her birthplace, her homeland, her ancestry);

·         Citizenship, but you can ask if the applicant is eligible to work in the United States;

·         Worker’s compensation claims history;

·         Whether the applicant has any physical or mental impairments; and

·         What prescription medications the candidate uses.

You can ask whether the applicant can meet your attendance requirements and whether the applicant can perform all the essential functions of the job as outlined in the job description.

Once you have interviewed and narrowed the field down to one or two applicants, check their backgrounds – every reference, every past employer, every educational institution. Time magazine reported last May that 43% of resumes have “significant inaccuracies”.

Have the applicant sign a waiver of liability that releases anyone who provides you information during the background checking process. You can fax that release to past employers and others whom you contact and you may get much better information from them.

However, you may not find anything juicy when you are doing these background checks. Many past employers won’t give you any helpful information at all. But document that you made the effort. Your attempts, even if unsuccessful, may relieve your company of liability for “negligent hiring”, a case in which someone claims that you hired a serial killer as a door to door salesman or a drunk as a delivery person and then set him loose on the public without any due diligence on your part.

Once you have made the candidate a conditional offer, you can require a pre-employment drug test and a physical exam if the job requires significant manual labor. If either of these tests identifies a problem, call your employment attorney before you withdraw your job offer from the applicant.

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