Are your Recruiting Practices and Interview Questions Legally Compliant?

The employment laws that affect your company depend on several factors, including the number of employees in the organization, government contracts, and location. It is the employer’s responsibility to be familiar with these laws and ensure compliance throughout the recruitment process – from defining the job, reviewing resumes, to the questions asked during the interview process.

To ensure your practices are legally compliant all employers should be familiar with three basic pieces of legislation – – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These acts prohibit discrimination against race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, gender, political affiliation or belief, sexual orientation, marital status, status in regard to public assistance, pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. These rules apply to most private employers who have 15 or more employees, all educational institutions, and federal, state and local governments. Even if your organization is not legally required to comply with this legislation, it is still recommended that employment practices follow these general guidelines.

When it comes to recruitment practices here are some simple guidelines:

  • Resumes are considered part of the employment record. Do not take notes directly on the resume. If you are at a job fair it may seem like a good idea to jot down a few notes on the resume about what the individual looked like or what they wore so you can better remember that individual or jog your memory once you get back to the office. This could come back to haunt you later. Instead, take notes on a separate note pad and only document job related experience or information.
  • Treat all applicants similarly and fairly. For instance, ask applicants similar, job related questions.
  • Be especially mindful of “small talk” that may take place while greeting a candidate or during a lunch session. Asking about a candidate’s personal life, even during a lunch break, could result in accusations of discrimination. To minimize your risk, keep conversations job related.
  • Be careful about the way in which you ask about work verification. Rather than asking a person, “do you have a work visa?”, a better phrasing of the question is, “are you authorized to work in the US?”. This way you avoid getting caught in technicalities.
  • Another rule of thumb is that regardless of what an applicant says to you, keep interview notes job related and do not document items that could be considered discriminatory or disparaging. For instance, if the applicant mentions that he/she must leave work every day at 4pm to pick up a child from school, this should not be documented in the notes. If it is a job requirement that employees must remain in the office between the hours of 8am to 4:30pm then simply ask a clarifying question and document the response. “This position requires employees to remain onsite between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm. Is this an acceptable schedule?”
  • If your organization routinely performs background investigations on potential employees, it is important to note that evidence of a criminal record should not automatically eliminate a candidate from consideration. Further investigation may be warranted.

There are federal, state and local laws that employers should become familiar with before starting down the recruitment trail. Ensure that you are familiar with the laws that govern your company in addition to those that may apply based on the location of the position.

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As a recruiter, I’m exposed to new opportunities and information on a daily basis. I thrive on learning about new industries, new technology, new positions—and then using what I’ve learned to help make a great candidate-company match.