Job Applications and Interviews

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

By: Madeline Shesko, HR Generalist

Are you having a hard time finding good talent, or even finding somewhat qualified candidates for open positions? Even if you do find qualified candidates, do some not show up for an interview? What about those you you've made an offer and they've accepted. Have you ever had someone not show up on Day 1? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Not that it provides any comfort, but this is an apparent side-effect of the low unemployment rates these days. Good candidates are scarce and figure prospective employers will have short memories. Many will take the best offer, even if it comes after they have already accepted another offer.

Not that the employment application or interviews will necessarily “highlight” those types of candidates, but at least make sure you are getting off on the right foot with your application process. The job application is a piece of paper that doesn’t get much attention until its completed, but it’s a form that you really should take a look at to make sure there aren’t any minefields that may cause concern. The job interview can be even more tricky. We want to have discussions that get candidates to open up to us so we can better judge their capability to handle the position in question.

However, be aware of the following:

•Employers should steer clear of any questions related to whether an employee is disabled or has a medical condition. Any such inquiry may leave a company liable to lawsuits from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

•Most job applications will ask for education history. Be careful. It’s fine to ask about education, BUT asking applicants for graduation dates may lead to a potential discrimination filing. Graduation dates might enable the hiring personnel to guess at the age of a candidate, which could result in an age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

•In most cases, just trying to show a “softer” side of the company, an interviewer might ask some family or personal questions. Although the intent is to be friendly, be aware that some of these questions could cause problems. Questions about a candidate's marital status, what their spouse does for a living, or even questions about having children could potentially lead to discrimination law suits.

These and several other topics, such as asking about arrests and convictions without the appropriate disclosures, requesting a photograph, or asking about citizenship, are areas that are out of bounds. If any of these areas relate specifically to the job requirements, make sure you are aware of the proper way to ask the questions or the appropriate disclosures to include.

All applications should include an at-will disclaimer (PA is an at-will employment state) and a clear non-discrimination statement. These are informational items to let applicants know the hiring practices of the employer.

Finding the right candidate is tough enough, but don’t make matters worse by creating situations that might cause potential legal claims for the company.Should you wish to discuss the hiring and/or on-boarding process, or any other Human Resource issue, feel free to contact any of the HR professionals at Donnelly-Boland and Associates.

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