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A Lawyer's Take on Hiring: Facts You Should Know

7.5.11

While good employees are the key asset of any organization, a wrong new hire can harm a business, decrease productivity and negatively impact employee morale. Ignoring these realities would virtually guarantee a dysfunctional workplace and ensure litigation. Effective fundamental hiring principles can not only yield quality employees who enhance business success, but can also eliminate the need for excessive management time and provide some insulation against employment-based lawsuits.

Here are some tips employers should keep in mind during the hiring process:

Set Clear Job Descriptions and Screen Appropriately. Every hiring journey should begin with a plan for success that incorporates the actual job requirements, the specific hiring needs, a proper recruiting team and appropriate screening mechanisms. A clear, current and accurate job description is essential, as it can avoid time wasted interviewing individuals who do not possess the required qualifications.

Use Appropriate Interviewing Tactics and Remember What's Off Limits. Managers should consider restricting the questions to ones that relate to the position, thereby not opening the door to litigation. For example, they can ask questions targeted to the position, the corporate culture, company goals and problem solving related to the position, and they can question what the applicant enjoyed or disliked about the last or current job. But they must be careful to avoid questions that could identify an applicant as part of a legally protected group. Questions about age, date of birth, dates of high school graduation, church activities, general health conditions and disabilities not related to the job's essential functions should be off-limits.

Making the Offer. At the end of the day, managers should trust their gut when it comes to determining whether the applicant is qualified, teachable and will accept supervision. As difficult as it might be to find a good employee in the first place, it is even more difficult in many situations to terminate the relationship in the future, so managers should remember not to settle for an applicant who doesn't fit.

This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Talent Management.

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