Tags: Human Resources

What Not to Do in a Job Interview

A recent survey of hiring managers by the Society for Human Resource Management provided some hilarious examples of what not to do in a job interview. From bringing a pet bird to the interview, to singing answers to interview questions, it seems there is no limit for some on how to act in public and at a job interview no less. 

While most of us who conduct interviews and hire are quick to spot quirky and off putting behaviors in applicants, how often do we stop and consider what we as potential employers are doing to scare of qualified and desirable applicants. Hiring in a tight labor market like Sioux Falls and Sioux City is highly competitive. Desirable candidates have choices, and can be selective about what positions to accept.

Here’s a quick list of things to do as a potential employer to help you and your company attract and hear yes from the best candidates in your applicant pool.

  1. Make sure your application form, whether electronic or paper, is in compliance with employment laws. Questions about marital status, age, race, and disabilities are obvious questions to be avoided on an application. But, many employers fail to understand that asking someone if they have ever been convicted of a felony crime is now illegal in many states and municipalities across the country. The “ban the box” movement has gained a significant foothold and asking that question at the application stage may be illegal in the jurisdiction from which you are soliciting applicants. If you are recruiting nationally, a better practice is to avoid the felony question at the application stage. If the position for which you are hiring is one that requires a criminal background check, the wiser course of action is to advise applicants in the ad that one will be conducted. Or, ask the question post offer if it is relevant to the position for which you are hiring. Also, asking someone if the applicant is able to work in the U.S. legally is a bad practice, as it can be a proxy for asking forbidden race and ethnicity questions. Instead, advise applicants in the ad that valid I-9 documentation will be required. Similarly, if you are concerned that applicants in need of a work visa sponsor may apply and your company is unwilling to expend funds to sponsor and obtain a work visa, the ad should indicate that position. For example, the ad could say: “Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.”
  2. Advertise in electronic media, as well as in print. Potential employees under the age of 30 are tech savvy. They expect a potential employer to know how to use and capitalize on social media. Do not disappoint this critical applicant pool. But, also use more traditional means of advertising including print, job boards, college placement offices, and word of mouth.   Older employees, especially those over the age of 40, are accustomed to more traditional job postings. You do not want your job posting methodology to screen out older workers and invite a possible age discrimination complaint. Cast your net a bit wider and you will see a better, more robust, and more diverse applicant pool that contains the best and the brightest applicants across a wider range of age.
  3. Be ready for applications when they arrive, and personal inquiries. Make sure your hiring manager, or the person who will be conducting interviews is ready as soon as the job is posted.   Enthusiastic go-getters will respond early, and will often call the potential employer and ask to speak with the person making the hiring decision. Be prepared for early callers and emailers and have your 30-second elevator speech on why the applicant should come to work for you ready to deploy when the right person calls. You do not want to be fumbling for words when the perfect applicant is on the line.
  4. Be prepared for the interview. Be prepared to articulate what type of person you are looking to hire. Remember, you want to recruit the best applicant and not just an applicant who meets the minimum qualifications. Oftentimes you may be trying to court an applicant away from a good organizations. Put your best foot forward by having answers to commonly asked questions at your fingertips, including; What is the potential for advancement in your company? What happened to the last person who had this position? Describe a typical day for this position.
  5. Do not ask illegal or off putting questions. Do not ask any questions that call for answers about the applicant’s age, marital status, religion, race, and other protected characteristics. While that may seem obvious, it is alarming how easy it is to venture into these protected areas. Your intent may be to brag about your company’s terrific and affordable health insurance plan. But, instead you ask “Are you married, because our health insurance rates for two are as cheap as for singles?” When what you really want to say is: “we have a fantastic health insurance plan with very affordable rates for single as well as family coverage.” You do not need to know whether the applicant is married before you brag about your affordable health plan rates.

Preparing for a job search is as important for the prospective employer as it is for the prospective employee. The cost of hiring, firing and rehiring can overwhelm an organization. Hire right the first time by recruiting and courting the best applicants with the right strategies. For more information on HR law, contact the Goosmann Law Firm at info@goosmannlaw.com or call (712) 226-4000.


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