The interviewing process can sometimes be a long and arduous one simply because companies need to do everything in their power to ensure they hire the right candidate. With that in mind, some businesses might accidentally end up asking questions that could unwittingly increase their liability to lawsuits.
Here are five things to avoid asking a job candidate in an interview due to the potential legal ramifications:
1) Don't get personal
If you ask questions of candidates that delve a little too deeply into their personal lives - for instance if they are planning to get married, start a family or make other big life changes in the near future - that conversation could become problematic, according to the International Risk Management Institute. For example, if questions like this are asked of a female candidate and then a male is eventually hired, that could appear to be discrimination on the basis of sex.
2) Don't describe length of jobs
During an interview, companies should try to avoid creating a contract of employment if the role does not specifically call for that. For instance, if they were to describe a job to a candidate as permanent or long-term, that could open up liability, especially around potential promises of continuing employment. An interviewer saying something like, "There's no reason someone with your qualifications wouldn't be able to work here for years to come," is hired, and then gets laid off in less time for reasons other than their own performance, it could lead to a potential lawsuit.
3) Don't ask about health history
Another common mistake is inquiring about personal health or physical abilities, according to Insurance Hub. There is a difference between noting that a job requires a worker to lift heavy objects on occasion, and asking the person if they are physically capable of doing so. The latter could be seen as discriminatory against people with certain disabilities.
4) Don't use language that could be seen as coded
There are some increasingly common words in job descriptions and interviews that, on the surface, may seem to offer an innocuous way to describe an ideal candidate, according to Monster. HR experts note that even saying you're looking for someone "energetic" or "vibrant" can be seen as age discrimination, while "rock star" may suggest qualities that skew more toward male candidates.
5) Don't leave prerequisites unclear
Some people may feel as though they are being discriminated against if a job listing doesn't necessarily reflect the qualifications stated in the interview. For instance, if the job description only lists a requirement for a bachelor's degree, but a hiring manager talks a lot about the importance of a master's degree, that can pose a serious problem.
Simply put, anyone who's conducting a job interview should be well versed in the company's hiring policies and always have a good idea of what they are and are not allowed to say. Even a small misstep - intentional or not - could open a company up to unexpected liability.
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