Questioning the interview question

By Loretta W. Prencipe, InfoWorld |  Career

You want to ensure that the top applicant will fit in both technically and
personally with your team. But watch the questions you ask: Your company could end up
on the wrong side of a discrimination complaint. In this, the second of a two-part
series, InfoWorld identifies risky interview practices.

The young woman's posting read: "I went for a job interview the other day. [The
manager] talked to me about the job. Then she asked how old I was. Bing, bing, bing! I
knew something was up then. The next question was, 'Do you have children?' And I was
like, 'Yeah.' Well, her next words were that she had been instructed to review the
applications and that no one she screened with children could be employed with the
company."

Not all wrongful interview questions are so obvious. Some questions are posed
without any wrongful intent but could be the basis of potential discrimination claims
just the same. And IT managers need to understand their role in protecting the company
from such actions, says Chuck Samel, senior director for knowledge development at Legal
Research Network, in Los Angeles.

1. Know discrimination claim bases

Suppose the company in the above example only asks female applicants about
childcare. This practice could lead to a claim of sexual discrimination under Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race,
color, religion, sex, or national origin. Employees and job candidates are also
protected under other acts, Samel says. Employees who are 40 or older can bring age
bias claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and individuals with
disabilities are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

2. Treat all applicants equally

" 'Winging it' during an interview means you're not prepared. And if you're not
prepared, you're likely to treat applicants differently from one another. This opens
the company up to legal risk," Samel says. He suggests writing a list of interview
questions in advance so that all applicants are asked roughly the same questions. Stick
to job-related topics, Samel advises. Do not ask about personal topics such as marital
status, the language spoken at home, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or
national origin.

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