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National
Whether handled by supervisors and managers or assigned to a centralized human resources (HR) department, hiring decisions are among the most important decisions made in any organization. Good hiring practices can eliminate or reduce many legal risks, reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve morale. Ill-advised hiring decisions, on the other hand, can result in turnover, duplicative training, missed opportunities, and lost customers. In addition, an ill-advised hire might well lead to employment termination; and every termination (no matter how justifiable and well documented) exposes the company to the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit or discrimination claim from the disgruntled former employee. For all these reasons, it pays to take the time to find the right person for the job the first time around.
An employer's hiring strategy should have clear goals that are aligned with the goals of the organization. Hiring should not be a function that is considered only on the day that an employee gives notice, and there is an immediate need to fill his or her position. Particularly in a tight labor market, attracting and retaining top talent requires a thoroughly thought-out hiring strategy that is tailored to the individual characteristics and needs of an organization.
Before deciding what approach to hiring will work best, employers should consider the overall organization. For example, what is the organization's approach to growth? Is the employer looking to expand or merely to filling existing positions as they become vacant? Is the organization rapidly growing so that it can offer frequent advancement opportunities as operations expand? Depending on an organization's current status and its goals, it may benefit from hiring strategies that focus on finding employees at the entry level with potential and willingness to learn the business and develop necessary skills, and then training and promoting from within. Such a strategy allows the organization to hire employees at the entry level, where costs are lowest, and develop and tailor their skills to match the organization's requirements over time. On the other hand, an organization that grows slowly and therefore cannot offer as many advancement opportunities, is better served by a strategy that relies more heavily on outside talent at all levels.
As a part of an overall hiring strategy, an employer may want to take a look at each of its job classifications and determine what makes a person a good candidate for that job. Employers often look beyond essential job functions and consider the background and inherent characteristics that are likely to equip a person best to perform the job. An employer should consider existing and past employees who have performed best in the job at issue, and determine what was responsible for their success as part of coming up with a detailed profile of the ideal candidate. Employers must be very careful, however, to be sure that a profile does not include, either directly or indirectly, any characteristics that might be viewed as discriminatory. For more on this, see Discrimination-Free Interviews in this section.
Before embarking on a hiring effort, employers must consider the cost involved, and decide how much they are prepared to spend. Ideally, HR and management should work together in planning an annual budget for hiring efforts. Employers should consider the extent of projected hiring, the hiring tools that are most likely to be successful, and the average or projected cost of each.
There are innumerable sources that can be used for locating qualified applicants. When hiring for a particular job, it is important to match the hiring tools to the job being filled. For example, it may not make sense to use a costly professional search firm to fill an entry-level position involving manual labor; neither will it make sense to use a newspaper ad to fill a position for a website developer.
In determining which hiring tools will work best, employers should consider the following:
Cost. Display ads in high-circulation daily newspapers can run in the thousands of dollars. Before deciding to use one, employers should consider whether there might be other less expensive tools that might work as well or whether there is enough time to try other recruitment sources before using an expensive one.
Time constraints. Outplacement firms can fill positions for employers almost instantly, but they may be very costly. If an employer has an immediate, unexpected opening in an essential position that the organization cannot afford to have vacant for any period of time, it may be worth the money to use the tool that will fill it most expediently.
Availability of qualified applicants. If a position requires very specialized skills, advertising in trade publications may provide better results than other forms of advertisements.
The following chart sets forth some of the benefits and drawbacks of various hiring tools.
MethodBenefitsDrawbacks
Referrals from other employees, usually with a bonus to the referring employee if the referral results in a hireEven with a bonus the costs of this method are low. The bonus is a morale booster and the method seems to locate good employees.Employees may be disgruntled if another applicant is chosen over a friend or relative. If the employee population is not diverse, sole reliance on this method can be viewed as discriminatory.
Internal postings. Detailed information is available. Please see the national Job Posting section. Very low cost, promotion from within can boost morale, further equal employment opportunity objectives.Tensions can sometimes result from an employee's attempt to change departments or supervisors, filling one job from within generally results in having to also refill that of the successful internal applicant.
Newspaper ads. (See below for tips on writing an ad.)Can reach a broad audience of jobseekers.Can be very costly, especially if detailed or display ads are used.
The InternetCan reach a very large audience at little at no cost.Not a good hiring tool for reaching jobseekers who are not likely to be computer literate or who do not have access to a computer. Can be difficult to efficiently screen applications because of potential volume.
Search agencies. Detailed information is available. Please see the national Employment Agencies section. Can access a large audience of jobseekers and can rapidly fill open positions.Can be extremely costly.
Past applications on fileNo associated costs. Applicants may no longer be jobseeking; information may be outdated. May create legal compliance problems in accurately tracking job applicants.
Unsolicited applications (walk-ins)No associated costs.Much less likely that applicants' qualifications will match vacant positions, or there may be no vacant positions at time of application.
Campus recruitingGood PR for the company, can be a good source of talented and ambitious entry-level people.Can be costly and time-consuming.
Government referral agencyNo associated cost, can assist with meeting EEO requirements and can provide a large volume of applicants quickly.Tends to be a better source for jobs requiring minimal qualifications.
Job fairsRapid access to a pool of applicants looking for immediate employment in a particular field.Can be very costly.
Employer open houseGood PR for the company, a good method for filling a large number of positions at once.Can be costly and time-consuming. Requires a sizeable staff of interviewers.
On-the-job training programsCan create a force of workers with tailor-made skills to fill future company needs.Can be costly if workers do not remain with the company after acquiring marketable skills.
Internship and co-op programs (usually in conjunction with a college or vocational school)Can create a force of workers with tailor-made skills; extremely good PR for the company.Time investment is lost unless the intern is offered and accepts a position with the company after completing the program.
Radio and TV adsReach a broad audience, may get the attention of a qualified applicant who is not actively seeking a job.Very costly; can result in a volume of responses from unqualified applicants.
Direct mail campaignsCan target particular groups through selective use of mailing lists; this is a proactive tool that does not require you to wait for the applicant to express an interest in you.Labor intensive and can be costly, especially the purchase of good current targeted mailing lists. There is no guarantee the targeted-audience members will respond.
Outplacement/temp agenciesCan fill positions quickly.Can be costly to bring such people on as regular employees.
Former military (through career placement services newsletters for exiting service people)Excellent source of highly skilled and disciplined applicants, especially that interact with the military.Applicants are sometimes deficient in a knowledge of procedures in the private sector.
On-site recruitmentGood attention getters.Time-consuming.
Referrals from customersCost-effective way to locate skilled professionals, can get to know them a little before deciding whether to approach about employment.Heavy applicant screening required.
Banner and signs outside worksiteCost-effective, can be good PR.Requires heavy applicant screening; only works if you are in a high visibility location.
Employers that use newspaper or Internet ads as a part of their recruiting process should take some time to make sure they are creating effective ads. Advertising can be costly, so you will want to have maximum effect. According to some surveys, 75 percent of the people reading the want ads already have jobs. This means that qualified candidates may not necessarily be actively looking, but they may nonetheless respond to a listing that attracts their attention. In their ads, employers often include a description of the organization and the benefits of being employed there.
When advertising a job, employers should be careful to use job titles that will be readily understood by applicants outside the workplace. Ads should provide a clear description of the primary job requirements along with other tasks that may be required occasionally. The accuracy of the job description will have a direct impact on the quality of applicant responses. Please see the national Job Descriptions section.
Designate one person as the clearinghouse through whom all recruiting ads will be placed and who is responsible for keeping copies of all ads and recording the number of responses and hires. Note: Some employers use “blind” ads (ads with a post office box address instead of the company name and address) to preserve confidentiality as well as minimize the need to respond to each résumé. Some experts argue that blind ads depress response.
Once an employer has established effective and discrimination-free recruiting practices, the hiring focus shifts to the interviewing process. In order to maximize success in interviewing, employers should consider the following:
Employers should require all employees who will be involved in the hiring process to undergo training before they begin interviewing applicants. Training should cover the requirements of federal, state, and local antidiscrimination laws to help interviewers avoid preemployment inquiries that may be discriminatory. In addition, training should provide a consistent approach to the interviewing process and provide guidance on the types of questions that elicit information that will be helpful in finding the right employee for the job in question. All interviewers, from the person who does the initial screening to top management, should be aware of the following:
• Certain questions are illegal.
• Many questions are frowned upon by state and federal nondiscrimination enforcement agencies and may be used as evidence of intent to discriminate.
• Improper statements made by interviewers may later be used as evidence that a contract of employment exists between the applicant and the employer.
The process of interviewing should start well before the applicant arrives. It is essential that interviews focus on the applicant's ability to perform the job, rather than on nonessential personal matters that may offend, invade privacy, cause bad feeling, or lead to discrimination claims. The interviewer must be thoroughly familiar with the job. A good tactic is to prepare a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to essential job functions that the applicant must exhibit. Job descriptions that accurately reflect essential job functions should be created before recruitment begins.
In developing a list of specific questions to ask each applicant, start with questions about the knowledge the person must have to perform the job rather than about the abilities it would be nice for the applicant to have. These questions are likely to be fairly direct, requiring only “Yes” or “No” answers or short responses of a few sentences at most; e.g. “what software packages have you used?” Then prepare a list of open-ended questions. These may be used to assess the applicants' ability to think, to formulate an organized response, and to communicate effectively--presuming these abilities are job related (see list of open-ended questions following).
By reviewing these documents ahead of time, the interviewer is better prepared to ask specific questions about jobs held, duties performed, and related matters beyond the scope of what is merely indicated on paper.
Automated prescreening transforms how potential employees are evaluated and selected. Options run from filling out a short answer form online to a computer-assisted interview. Proponents of this method claim that candidates are screened more quickly and efficiently than with face-to-face interviewing techniques. The technology is fairly new but gaining popularity.
The process. Generally, computer or telephone prescreening involves having candidates answer key details about themselves with a series of “Yes” or “No” answers. The prescreening is then followed up with a face-to-face interview with those candidates who meet the qualification requirements.
Assuming candidates have been thoroughly telephone-screened, the purpose of the in-person interview is not to verify the résumé or application form. It is to learn about the candidate, evaluate the candidate's ability to perform the job, and determine whether the candidate will fit well in the job and in the organization. Some HR professionals put more emphasis on talent and chemistry than experience, since experience can be gained through on-the-job training, at least in certain circumstances.
It is generally agreed that interviews are more effective when the applicant is put at ease and the interviewer establishes a friendly atmosphere. Once this is accomplished, the interviewer can proceed with the prepared list of questions that indicate the applicant's general fitness for the position as well as reviewing the applicant's education, experience, and other job-related matters.
The actual format of the interview will vary with the type of job. For example, an interview with an entry-level/nonexempt worker might last 30 minutes or so, and the questions will be rather direct, requiring relatively short, specific answers. Interviews with professionals may run in excess of one hour and be more in-depth and nondirective. Generally the rule is for the interviewer to maintain control, but let the applicant do most of the talking. The interviewer maintains control by keeping the objectives of the interview clearly in mind while firmly guiding the applicant into a discussion relative to those objectives.
Some companies stress highly structured interviews where interviewers have little leeway to vary from a planned format. This approach may yield more reliable and valid results than a nondirective approach. However, an interview that is too highly structured may fail to create rapport with the applicant and detract from spontaneity and openness. This can be overcome to some degree by establishing a supportive atmosphere at the start of the interview.
Some interviewers prefer to invite at least one other person to sit in on the interview and have several other staff members meet the applicant. To ensure consistency, many interviewers use the same interview questions for each candidate. Responses to open-ended, situational interview questions (typical on-the-job problems) can be compared to the effective behavior described by the incumbent employee, the supervisor, or other sources. Such “behavioral” interviewing questions include:
• What specific duties did you perform on your last job?
• How do you spend a typical day at your current job?
• Tell me about a major project or accomplishment of which you are proud.
• Can you describe an instance when you worked as a team member?
• What are some of the things in a job that are most important to you?
• What skills from your last job can you use on this job?
• What skills do you think you need to develop or want to develop?
• Why are you leaving your current job?
Be sure the interview process allows time for applicants to ask questions. In fact, this is a good way to end the interview. At a minimum, the applicant will want to know about the specific job, the company, and why he or she should consider joining it. Employers should plan to have time for this at the end of the interview, and let the applicant know at the beginning of the interview that he or she will get an opportunity to ask questions. In this way, the interviewer is able to keep the interview “on track” and still allow the applicant an opportunity to learn what he or she needs to about the organization. Additionally, letting the applicant know in advance that he or she will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end will give the applicant a chance to formulate questions and give the interviewer a chance to evaluate the applicant's level of interest in the organization.
Job interviews, in particular, are legal land mines. A biased interviewer, an illegal question, or even a seemingly innocent question that elicits personal information unrelated to the job can trigger a discrimination complaint. Interviewers should be carefully trained to not make statements or promises that may be construed as oral contracts that may be legally binding on the employer. Training should include information on applicable federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination.
Federal civil rights legislation, and comparable legislation in most states, requires employers to observe hiring practices that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, age, sex, national origin, or disability. The laws in most states expand the protected categories beyond the federal law. The key to avoiding such discrimination is to be familiar with state and local statutes and to use objective, job-based criteria for all hiring decisions.
On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance on hiring and employing individuals with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. These updates address the changes to the ADA by the ADA Amendments Act. The four separate documents can be found at EEOC's website.
This guidance basically reminds employers that they may not ask an applicant about a medical condition. Further, applicants need not disclose an impairment unless they need a reasonable accommodation during the application process. However, these prohibitions do not prohibit an employer from asking whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Genetic information. In 2013, the EEOC settled the first lawsuit that it filed under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants because of genetic information such as family medical history. The employer in this case sent an employee for a preemployment physical, where she was asked to complete a questionnaire and disclose the existence of disorders in her family medical history, in violation of the law. In addition to monetary compensation, the employer agreed to take actions to prevent discrimination, such as posting an antidiscrimination notice, disseminating antidiscrimination policies to employees and providing antidiscrimination training to employees with hiring responsibilities. Employers must make sure that their medical inquiries do not impermissibly request family medical history, including making such a request through a contract medical examiner. Genetic discrimination is one of EEOC’s six national priorities in its strategic enforcement.
Please see the national Civil Rights section. Please see the national Pre-Employment Inquiries section.
Criminal history. Enforcement guidance issued by the EEOC recommends that employers not ask about criminal convictions on job applications. During an interview, the information may be disclosed by a prospective employee, or it may be revealed in a background check. According to the EEOC guidance, if an employer chooses to exclude an applicant because of a criminal conviction, the employer must be able to show that the exclusion is job related and consistent with business necessity. One way to satisfy this requirement is to develop a targeted screen that takes into consideration the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job. In addition to the targeted screen, employers must conduct an individualized assessment consisting of:
• Notice to an applicant that he or she has been screened out because of a criminal conviction;
• An opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied because of his or her particular circumstances; and
• Consideration by the employer of the additional information.
Additional information on the guidance is available. Please see the national Background Checks section.
Educational requirements. The EEOC has also issued an informal discussion letter outlining when the requirement of a high school diploma may violate the ADA. Because ADA regulations include learning as a major life activity, an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the major life activity of learning will have an ADA disability. If that disability prevents the individual from getting a high school diploma, an employer may violate ADA regulations by using a diploma requirement to screen out applicants. Please see the national Disabilities (ADA) section.
In an effort to make the interview process less subjective and less prone to discrimination claims, many organizations provide training in interviewing skills for supervisors and others involved in the hiring process. Many employers have written policies with detailed, step-by-step employment interviewing guidelines, including specific questions that should and should not be asked during the interview.
Many court decisions have indicated that applicants may allege discrimination if the interviewing process eliminates a significant number of members of a “protected group” (i.e., those groups specifically given legal protections by state and federal civil rights laws). In other words, if a selection procedure has a disparate impact on a protected group, it may be the basis of liability for discrimination.
EEOC Strategic Enforcement. In its Strategic Enforcement Plan for fiscal years 2012 to 2016, the EEOC is targeting discriminatory hiring practices, including discriminatory policies, restrictive application processes, and the use of screening tools (e.g., preemployment tests, background screens, and date of birth screens in online applications). Employers should review their current hiring policies and practices to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination. See the Related Information section below.
Some ground rules for successful interviewing are:
• Concentrate on subjects that are clearly tied to the job itself, such as work experience, particular skills, and educational background.
• Avoid questions pertaining to any medical condition a candidate may have, but if a candidate has an obvious disability, you may ask the candidate how he or she would perform a certain job-related activity with or without reasonable accommodation.
• Be consistent in your questioning. Don't pose certain questions to only female applicants, for example.
Interviewers should also be reminded to avoid such common errors as:
• The “halo” effect--when interviewers are unduly influenced by a single trait, which affects their judgment of the applicant's other characteristics
• Stereotyping--making a judgment based on group membership (racial, ethnic, etc.) rather than on the basis of the applicant's individual abilities and characteristics
• “Just like me” syndrome--favoring an applicant because the applicant's attitudes and opinions are similar to the interviewer's
It doesn't take an instance of blatant racial or sexual discrimination to trigger a lawsuit and potentially a huge damage award. A rejected applicant might interpret casual or thoughtless treatment as discrimination. To avoid potential litigation, employers should periodically audit their hiring process to gauge its effectiveness and to check for subtle forms of discrimination.
The time to make notes about an applicant is immediately after the interview. It's too easy to forget facts about specific applicants in the course of a busy day, especially if the interviewer sees a number of applicants. Interviewers should use the list of questions that was prepared before the interview and rate each applicant against each question. All ratings and remarks should be strictly job-related. If several interviewers see the same applicant, they should do their own evaluation and compare notes. This should be a relatively easy process if each interviewer worked with the same set of questions; areas of agreement and disagreement will be readily apparent.
It is expected that all applicants will be told whether they got the job--one way or the other. Letters sent to rejected applicants should be crafted carefully. It is generally best to avoid detailing the reasons a person was not selected. There is no law requiring an employer to tell rejected applicants specifically why they weren't chosen (unless the decision not to hire was based on a consumer credit report). The applicant may disagree with the reasoning and claim that the reason provided was a pretext for discrimination. Please see the national References/Reference Checks section.
Under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), all employees must complete Form I-9, the “Employment Eligibility Verification Form,” issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. On this form, applicants attest under penalty of perjury that they are either U.S. citizens or aliens authorized to work in the United States. The form also lists certain documents that applicants must provide to verify their identity and work eligibility. Employers should make sure that they are using the most current version of Form I-9, as it is periodically updated. IRCA makes it illegal to hire undocumented workers, and the employer is responsible for ensuring that Form I-9 is properly completed and the required documents are produced. Please see the national Aliens/Immigration section.
As part of the comprehensive welfare reform legislation known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, every state must operate a child support enforcement program (42 USC 653a). Under the PRWORA provision, employers must report each newly hired worker to a state “directory of new hires” within a prescribed time, typically within 20 days of hiring. Required information generally includes the new employee's name, address, Social Security number, and date of hire. The state agency in turn must report this information to the national directory of new hires at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Multistate employers can designate one state registry for filing all new hire reports.
Please see the state Garnishment , state Hiring sections.
Related Topics:
National
Whether handled by supervisors and managers or assigned to a centralized human resources (HR) department, hiring decisions are among the most important decisions made in any organization. Good hiring practices can eliminate or reduce many legal risks, reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve morale. Ill-advised hiring decisions, on the other hand, can result in turnover, duplicative training, missed opportunities, and lost customers. In addition, an ill-advised hire might well lead to employment termination; and every termination (no matter how justifiable and well documented) exposes the company to the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit or discrimination claim from the disgruntled former employee. For all these reasons, it pays to take the time to find the right person for the job the first time around.
An employer's hiring strategy should have clear goals that are aligned with the goals of the organization. Hiring should not be a function that is considered only on the day that an employee gives notice, and there is an immediate need to fill his or her position. Particularly in a tight labor market, attracting and retaining top talent requires a thoroughly thought-out hiring strategy that is tailored to the individual characteristics and needs of an organization.
Before deciding what approach to hiring will work best, employers should consider the overall organization. For example, what is the organization's approach to growth? Is the employer looking to expand or merely to filling existing positions as they become vacant? Is the organization rapidly growing so that it can offer frequent advancement opportunities as operations expand? Depending on an organization's current status and its goals, it may benefit from hiring strategies that focus on finding employees at the entry level with potential and willingness to learn the business and develop necessary skills, and then training and promoting from within. Such a strategy allows the organization to hire employees at the entry level, where costs are lowest, and develop and tailor their skills to match the organization's requirements over time. On the other hand, an organization that grows slowly and therefore cannot offer as many advancement opportunities, is better served by a strategy that relies more heavily on outside talent at all levels.
As a part of an overall hiring strategy, an employer may want to take a look at each of its job classifications and determine what makes a person a good candidate for that job. Employers often look beyond essential job functions and consider the background and inherent characteristics that are likely to equip a person best to perform the job. An employer should consider existing and past employees who have performed best in the job at issue, and determine what was responsible for their success as part of coming up with a detailed profile of the ideal candidate. Employers must be very careful, however, to be sure that a profile does not include, either directly or indirectly, any characteristics that might be viewed as discriminatory. For more on this, see Discrimination-Free Interviews in this section.
Before embarking on a hiring effort, employers must consider the cost involved, and decide how much they are prepared to spend. Ideally, HR and management should work together in planning an annual budget for hiring efforts. Employers should consider the extent of projected hiring, the hiring tools that are most likely to be successful, and the average or projected cost of each.
There are innumerable sources that can be used for locating qualified applicants. When hiring for a particular job, it is important to match the hiring tools to the job being filled. For example, it may not make sense to use a costly professional search firm to fill an entry-level position involving manual labor; neither will it make sense to use a newspaper ad to fill a position for a website developer.
In determining which hiring tools will work best, employers should consider the following:
Cost. Display ads in high-circulation daily newspapers can run in the thousands of dollars. Before deciding to use one, employers should consider whether there might be other less expensive tools that might work as well or whether there is enough time to try other recruitment sources before using an expensive one.
Time constraints. Outplacement firms can fill positions for employers almost instantly, but they may be very costly. If an employer has an immediate, unexpected opening in an essential position that the organization cannot afford to have vacant for any period of time, it may be worth the money to use the tool that will fill it most expediently.
Availability of qualified applicants. If a position requires very specialized skills, advertising in trade publications may provide better results than other forms of advertisements.
The following chart sets forth some of the benefits and drawbacks of various hiring tools.
MethodBenefitsDrawbacks
Referrals from other employees, usually with a bonus to the referring employee if the referral results in a hireEven with a bonus the costs of this method are low. The bonus is a morale booster and the method seems to locate good employees.Employees may be disgruntled if another applicant is chosen over a friend or relative. If the employee population is not diverse, sole reliance on this method can be viewed as discriminatory.
Internal postings. Detailed information is available. Please see the national Job Posting section. Very low cost, promotion from within can boost morale, further equal employment opportunity objectives.Tensions can sometimes result from an employee's attempt to change departments or supervisors, filling one job from within generally results in having to also refill that of the successful internal applicant.
Newspaper ads. (See below for tips on writing an ad.)Can reach a broad audience of jobseekers.Can be very costly, especially if detailed or display ads are used.
The InternetCan reach a very large audience at little at no cost.Not a good hiring tool for reaching jobseekers who are not likely to be computer literate or who do not have access to a computer. Can be difficult to efficiently screen applications because of potential volume.
Search agencies. Detailed information is available. Please see the national Employment Agencies section. Can access a large audience of jobseekers and can rapidly fill open positions.Can be extremely costly.
Past applications on fileNo associated costs. Applicants may no longer be jobseeking; information may be outdated. May create legal compliance problems in accurately tracking job applicants.
Unsolicited applications (walk-ins)No associated costs.Much less likely that applicants' qualifications will match vacant positions, or there may be no vacant positions at time of application.
Campus recruitingGood PR for the company, can be a good source of talented and ambitious entry-level people.Can be costly and time-consuming.
Government referral agencyNo associated cost, can assist with meeting EEO requirements and can provide a large volume of applicants quickly.Tends to be a better source for jobs requiring minimal qualifications.
Job fairsRapid access to a pool of applicants looking for immediate employment in a particular field.Can be very costly.
Employer open houseGood PR for the company, a good method for filling a large number of positions at once.Can be costly and time-consuming. Requires a sizeable staff of interviewers.
On-the-job training programsCan create a force of workers with tailor-made skills to fill future company needs.Can be costly if workers do not remain with the company after acquiring marketable skills.
Internship and co-op programs (usually in conjunction with a college or vocational school)Can create a force of workers with tailor-made skills; extremely good PR for the company.Time investment is lost unless the intern is offered and accepts a position with the company after completing the program.
Radio and TV adsReach a broad audience, may get the attention of a qualified applicant who is not actively seeking a job.Very costly; can result in a volume of responses from unqualified applicants.
Direct mail campaignsCan target particular groups through selective use of mailing lists; this is a proactive tool that does not require you to wait for the applicant to express an interest in you.Labor intensive and can be costly, especially the purchase of good current targeted mailing lists. There is no guarantee the targeted-audience members will respond.
Outplacement/temp agenciesCan fill positions quickly.Can be costly to bring such people on as regular employees.
Former military (through career placement services newsletters for exiting service people)Excellent source of highly skilled and disciplined applicants, especially that interact with the military.Applicants are sometimes deficient in a knowledge of procedures in the private sector.
On-site recruitmentGood attention getters.Time-consuming.
Referrals from customersCost-effective way to locate skilled professionals, can get to know them a little before deciding whether to approach about employment.Heavy applicant screening required.
Banner and signs outside worksiteCost-effective, can be good PR.Requires heavy applicant screening; only works if you are in a high visibility location.
Employers that use newspaper or Internet ads as a part of their recruiting process should take some time to make sure they are creating effective ads. Advertising can be costly, so you will want to have maximum effect. According to some surveys, 75 percent of the people reading the want ads already have jobs. This means that qualified candidates may not necessarily be actively looking, but they may nonetheless respond to a listing that attracts their attention. In their ads, employers often include a description of the organization and the benefits of being employed there.
When advertising a job, employers should be careful to use job titles that will be readily understood by applicants outside the workplace. Ads should provide a clear description of the primary job requirements along with other tasks that may be required occasionally. The accuracy of the job description will have a direct impact on the quality of applicant responses. Please see the national Job Descriptions section.
Designate one person as the clearinghouse through whom all recruiting ads will be placed and who is responsible for keeping copies of all ads and recording the number of responses and hires. Note: Some employers use “blind” ads (ads with a post office box address instead of the company name and address) to preserve confidentiality as well as minimize the need to respond to each résumé. Some experts argue that blind ads depress response.
Once an employer has established effective and discrimination-free recruiting practices, the hiring focus shifts to the interviewing process. In order to maximize success in interviewing, employers should consider the following:
Employers should require all employees who will be involved in the hiring process to undergo training before they begin interviewing applicants. Training should cover the requirements of federal, state, and local antidiscrimination laws to help interviewers avoid preemployment inquiries that may be discriminatory. In addition, training should provide a consistent approach to the interviewing process and provide guidance on the types of questions that elicit information that will be helpful in finding the right employee for the job in question. All interviewers, from the person who does the initial screening to top management, should be aware of the following:
• Certain questions are illegal.
• Many questions are frowned upon by state and federal nondiscrimination enforcement agencies and may be used as evidence of intent to discriminate.
• Improper statements made by interviewers may later be used as evidence that a contract of employment exists between the applicant and the employer.
The process of interviewing should start well before the applicant arrives. It is essential that interviews focus on the applicant's ability to perform the job, rather than on nonessential personal matters that may offend, invade privacy, cause bad feeling, or lead to discrimination claims. The interviewer must be thoroughly familiar with the job. A good tactic is to prepare a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to essential job functions that the applicant must exhibit. Job descriptions that accurately reflect essential job functions should be created before recruitment begins.
In developing a list of specific questions to ask each applicant, start with questions about the knowledge the person must have to perform the job rather than about the abilities it would be nice for the applicant to have. These questions are likely to be fairly direct, requiring only “Yes” or “No” answers or short responses of a few sentences at most; e.g. “what software packages have you used?” Then prepare a list of open-ended questions. These may be used to assess the applicants' ability to think, to formulate an organized response, and to communicate effectively--presuming these abilities are job related (see list of open-ended questions following).
By reviewing these documents ahead of time, the interviewer is better prepared to ask specific questions about jobs held, duties performed, and related matters beyond the scope of what is merely indicated on paper.
Automated prescreening transforms how potential employees are evaluated and selected. Options run from filling out a short answer form online to a computer-assisted interview. Proponents of this method claim that candidates are screened more quickly and efficiently than with face-to-face interviewing techniques. The technology is fairly new but gaining popularity.
The process. Generally, computer or telephone prescreening involves having candidates answer key details about themselves with a series of “Yes” or “No” answers. The prescreening is then followed up with a face-to-face interview with those candidates who meet the qualification requirements.
Assuming candidates have been thoroughly telephone-screened, the purpose of the in-person interview is not to verify the résumé or application form. It is to learn about the candidate, evaluate the candidate's ability to perform the job, and determine whether the candidate will fit well in the job and in the organization. Some HR professionals put more emphasis on talent and chemistry than experience, since experience can be gained through on-the-job training, at least in certain circumstances.
It is generally agreed that interviews are more effective when the applicant is put at ease and the interviewer establishes a friendly atmosphere. Once this is accomplished, the interviewer can proceed with the prepared list of questions that indicate the applicant's general fitness for the position as well as reviewing the applicant's education, experience, and other job-related matters.
The actual format of the interview will vary with the type of job. For example, an interview with an entry-level/nonexempt worker might last 30 minutes or so, and the questions will be rather direct, requiring relatively short, specific answers. Interviews with professionals may run in excess of one hour and be more in-depth and nondirective. Generally the rule is for the interviewer to maintain control, but let the applicant do most of the talking. The interviewer maintains control by keeping the objectives of the interview clearly in mind while firmly guiding the applicant into a discussion relative to those objectives.
Some companies stress highly structured interviews where interviewers have little leeway to vary from a planned format. This approach may yield more reliable and valid results than a nondirective approach. However, an interview that is too highly structured may fail to create rapport with the applicant and detract from spontaneity and openness. This can be overcome to some degree by establishing a supportive atmosphere at the start of the interview.
Some interviewers prefer to invite at least one other person to sit in on the interview and have several other staff members meet the applicant. To ensure consistency, many interviewers use the same interview questions for each candidate. Responses to open-ended, situational interview questions (typical on-the-job problems) can be compared to the effective behavior described by the incumbent employee, the supervisor, or other sources. Such “behavioral” interviewing questions include:
• What specific duties did you perform on your last job?
• How do you spend a typical day at your current job?
• Tell me about a major project or accomplishment of which you are proud.
• Can you describe an instance when you worked as a team member?
• What are some of the things in a job that are most important to you?
• What skills from your last job can you use on this job?
• What skills do you think you need to develop or want to develop?
• Why are you leaving your current job?
Be sure the interview process allows time for applicants to ask questions. In fact, this is a good way to end the interview. At a minimum, the applicant will want to know about the specific job, the company, and why he or she should consider joining it. Employers should plan to have time for this at the end of the interview, and let the applicant know at the beginning of the interview that he or she will get an opportunity to ask questions. In this way, the interviewer is able to keep the interview “on track” and still allow the applicant an opportunity to learn what he or she needs to about the organization. Additionally, letting the applicant know in advance that he or she will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end will give the applicant a chance to formulate questions and give the interviewer a chance to evaluate the applicant's level of interest in the organization.
Job interviews, in particular, are legal land mines. A biased interviewer, an illegal question, or even a seemingly innocent question that elicits personal information unrelated to the job can trigger a discrimination complaint. Interviewers should be carefully trained to not make statements or promises that may be construed as oral contracts that may be legally binding on the employer. Training should include information on applicable federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination.
Federal civil rights legislation, and comparable legislation in most states, requires employers to observe hiring practices that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, age, sex, national origin, or disability. The laws in most states expand the protected categories beyond the federal law. The key to avoiding such discrimination is to be familiar with state and local statutes and to use objective, job-based criteria for all hiring decisions.
On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance on hiring and employing individuals with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. These updates address the changes to the ADA by the ADA Amendments Act. The four separate documents can be found at EEOC's website.
This guidance basically reminds employers that they may not ask an applicant about a medical condition. Further, applicants need not disclose an impairment unless they need a reasonable accommodation during the application process. However, these prohibitions do not prohibit an employer from asking whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Genetic information. In 2013, the EEOC settled the first lawsuit that it filed under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants because of genetic information such as family medical history. The employer in this case sent an employee for a preemployment physical, where she was asked to complete a questionnaire and disclose the existence of disorders in her family medical history, in violation of the law. In addition to monetary compensation, the employer agreed to take actions to prevent discrimination, such as posting an antidiscrimination notice, disseminating antidiscrimination policies to employees and providing antidiscrimination training to employees with hiring responsibilities. Employers must make sure that their medical inquiries do not impermissibly request family medical history, including making such a request through a contract medical examiner. Genetic discrimination is one of EEOC’s six national priorities in its strategic enforcement.
Please see the national Civil Rights section. Please see the national Pre-Employment Inquiries section.
Criminal history. Enforcement guidance issued by the EEOC recommends that employers not ask about criminal convictions on job applications. During an interview, the information may be disclosed by a prospective employee, or it may be revealed in a background check. According to the EEOC guidance, if an employer chooses to exclude an applicant because of a criminal conviction, the employer must be able to show that the exclusion is job related and consistent with business necessity. One way to satisfy this requirement is to develop a targeted screen that takes into consideration the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job. In addition to the targeted screen, employers must conduct an individualized assessment consisting of:
• Notice to an applicant that he or she has been screened out because of a criminal conviction;
• An opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied because of his or her particular circumstances; and
• Consideration by the employer of the additional information.
Additional information on the guidance is available. Please see the national Background Checks section.
Educational requirements. The EEOC has also issued an informal discussion letter outlining when the requirement of a high school diploma may violate the ADA. Because ADA regulations include learning as a major life activity, an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the major life activity of learning will have an ADA disability. If that disability prevents the individual from getting a high school diploma, an employer may violate ADA regulations by using a diploma requirement to screen out applicants. Please see the national Disabilities (ADA) section.
In an effort to make the interview process less subjective and less prone to discrimination claims, many organizations provide training in interviewing skills for supervisors and others involved in the hiring process. Many employers have written policies with detailed, step-by-step employment interviewing guidelines, including specific questions that should and should not be asked during the interview.
Many court decisions have indicated that applicants may allege discrimination if the interviewing process eliminates a significant number of members of a “protected group” (i.e., those groups specifically given legal protections by state and federal civil rights laws). In other words, if a selection procedure has a disparate impact on a protected group, it may be the basis of liability for discrimination.
EEOC Strategic Enforcement. In its Strategic Enforcement Plan for fiscal years 2012 to 2016, the EEOC is targeting discriminatory hiring practices, including discriminatory policies, restrictive application processes, and the use of screening tools (e.g., preemployment tests, background screens, and date of birth screens in online applications). Employers should review their current hiring policies and practices to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination. See the Related Information section below.
Some ground rules for successful interviewing are:
• Concentrate on subjects that are clearly tied to the job itself, such as work experience, particular skills, and educational background.
• Avoid questions pertaining to any medical condition a candidate may have, but if a candidate has an obvious disability, you may ask the candidate how he or she would perform a certain job-related activity with or without reasonable accommodation.
• Be consistent in your questioning. Don't pose certain questions to only female applicants, for example.
Interviewers should also be reminded to avoid such common errors as:
• The “halo” effect--when interviewers are unduly influenced by a single trait, which affects their judgment of the applicant's other characteristics
• Stereotyping--making a judgment based on group membership (racial, ethnic, etc.) rather than on the basis of the applicant's individual abilities and characteristics
• “Just like me” syndrome--favoring an applicant because the applicant's attitudes and opinions are similar to the interviewer's
It doesn't take an instance of blatant racial or sexual discrimination to trigger a lawsuit and potentially a huge damage award. A rejected applicant might interpret casual or thoughtless treatment as discrimination. To avoid potential litigation, employers should periodically audit their hiring process to gauge its effectiveness and to check for subtle forms of discrimination.
The time to make notes about an applicant is immediately after the interview. It's too easy to forget facts about specific applicants in the course of a busy day, especially if the interviewer sees a number of applicants. Interviewers should use the list of questions that was prepared before the interview and rate each applicant against each question. All ratings and remarks should be strictly job-related. If several interviewers see the same applicant, they should do their own evaluation and compare notes. This should be a relatively easy process if each interviewer worked with the same set of questions; areas of agreement and disagreement will be readily apparent.
It is expected that all applicants will be told whether they got the job--one way or the other. Letters sent to rejected applicants should be crafted carefully. It is generally best to avoid detailing the reasons a person was not selected. There is no law requiring an employer to tell rejected applicants specifically why they weren't chosen (unless the decision not to hire was based on a consumer credit report). The applicant may disagree with the reasoning and claim that the reason provided was a pretext for discrimination. Please see the national References/Reference Checks section.
Under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), all employees must complete Form I-9, the “Employment Eligibility Verification Form,” issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. On this form, applicants attest under penalty of perjury that they are either U.S. citizens or aliens authorized to work in the United States. The form also lists certain documents that applicants must provide to verify their identity and work eligibility. Employers should make sure that they are using the most current version of Form I-9, as it is periodically updated. IRCA makes it illegal to hire undocumented workers, and the employer is responsible for ensuring that Form I-9 is properly completed and the required documents are produced. Please see the national Aliens/Immigration section.
As part of the comprehensive welfare reform legislation known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, every state must operate a child support enforcement program (42 USC 653a). Under the PRWORA provision, employers must report each newly hired worker to a state “directory of new hires” within a prescribed time, typically within 20 days of hiring. Required information generally includes the new employee's name, address, Social Security number, and date of hire. The state agency in turn must report this information to the national directory of new hires at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Multistate employers can designate one state registry for filing all new hire reports.
Please see the state Garnishment , state Hiring sections.
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