Are Hiring Practices Fair?

3 min read
Wed, Jul 23, 2014


When hiring for your industry, you are expected to provide equal opportunity for all candidates.  This means recruiting employees and treating them fairly on the basis of merit such as experience, skills, or ability to do the job.  It also means avoiding the use of factors like race, age, religion, gender, disability, or family status to make decisions regarding employment.

Here are Fair Hiring Practices that all hiring managers should keep in mind.

Avoid Making Assumptions

When interviewing a candidate, the questions you ask should be focused on the candidate's ability to perform the specified job functions. Your questions should use job-relevant language only, and avoid making assumptions about any disabilities of a candidate.  For instance, if you are conducting an interview with a candidate in a wheelchair who is applying for a restaurant management position and the position requires the employee to frequent the different sections of the restaurant, you're allowed to ask the candidate how they will perform this particular job function. You are not allowed to ask them how long they have been disabled.

 Interview Topics

Keep in mind that the law assumes that all the questions you ask during the interview process will be compliant with fair hiring practices and used in making a hiring decision. With that said, it is essential to keep your questions focused on the evaluation of the candidate's skills and qualifications for the job. HR managers should train interviewers to follow specific techniques such as asking questions that are open ended and will have the applicant discussing their qualifications rather than asking simple 'yes' or 'no' questions.  The manager should evaluate each response carefully. 

Never make any guarantees or promises on future employment. When taking notes, never indicate the candidate's age, race, gender, national origin, disability, or any other identifier as it can be illegal and discriminatory. All notes should be focused entirely on if the applicant meets all job requirements.  When possible, have more than one person perform an interview on the same candidate.

 See Also: Background Check Best Practices

Background Checks

Employment background checks are essential in the hiring process and each HR professional or employer should make it their policy to perform one before hiring new employees. Without this process, you leave your company vulnerable to risks like failure to warn or negligent hiring if an employee turns out to exhibit violent tendencies. However, this process alone can also be risky as well, and it is important to follow fair hiring practices while obtaining reports.

When conducting a background check, it is important to stay in compliance with the FCRA or Fair Credit Reporting Act which regulates the process of employee background checks.

Background checks are not just about performing credit background checks. The process involves other things like criminal and driving records which are obtained from the CRA or Consumer Reporting Agency. Typically, you are free to perform a background check, under the FCRA, and use it for business interests like hiring, promoting, and firing people. You cannot, however, perform a check anytime you feel like it.  You need the written permission of the person you are obtaining the report for.

You can adhere to fair hiring practices by planning ahead and preparing the questions you will be asking your applicants which pertain to their qualifications and skills for the job.  Planning ahead will help to prevent asking questions that may be illegal and will help you to find only qualified employees for the job. By taking the time to thoroughly screen your applicants fairly and only focusing on what is relevant for the job, it helps the process go much smoother and allows you to build a team of strong, reliable employees.

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