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Hiring the Right People

 Hiring the right employee is one of the most important things you do; it reduces turnover and training costs. At the same time, the right employee adds to the culture, morale and productivity of your company. This is more difficult than it sounds. You must ask the right questions to get the needed information while ensuring those questions don’t open you up to charges of discrimination or lawsuits. Below are just a few good tips:

  1. Applicants should do about 80% of the talking, so ask open ended questions. Open ended questions require applicants to tell you about something.  They will choose to share information that they feel is most important to them, which can be very insightful.
  2. Ask questions that require applicants to tell you about experiences they’ve had that are relevant to the job. For example, “This job is very fast paced. Can you tell me about an experience you’ve had when working in a fast paced environment?” If they can, they’ve done it. If they can’t, then they may not have worked successfully in a fast paced environment.
  3. You want your questions to be behavioral based. This means that your questions must allow the applicant an opportunity to share with you that they have the attributes you are looking for. If they can give you an example of a time when they acted with the behaviors required you should be able to determine if they have that behavior. If interpersonal communication is an important attribute, you might say, “Tell me about a time you had to contact a customer about a problem.”
  4. Ask follow up questions. If an employee didn’t give you all the information you were looking for, ask for more but don’t lead the applicant. For example, “Tell me about how you felt while working that quickly?”
  5. Look for the appropriate interpersonal skills while interviewing. It’s not just what the applicant says; it’s how they say it. If the job requires a lot of personal interaction, then interpersonal skills are important. If the job requires the employee to work by themselves with little interaction, then interpersonal skills may not be important at all.
  6. Don’t underestimate the importance of culture fit. This can be a very challenging attribute of the interview process. It is important that your culture is inclusive and allows a wide range of individuals. Be sure to ask questions that allow employees to provide information on how they feel about your company’s core values.

You should not ask questions that could be considered discriminatory. In Michigan, the following characteristics are protected: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, height, weight, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, familial status, marital status, genetic information, or veteran status.  Some employers believe that if an applicant brings up a topic, it is then open. This argument would not stand up in a court of law.

  1. Do not ask an applicant how old they are. This could lead to claims of age discrimination. Instead, ask them, “Are you 18 years of age or older?” (If you hire younger workers, you can lower this age. Refer to Michigan’s Child Labor Laws, click here.
  2. Do not ask an applicant about their family. If an applicant tells you about their family, listen politely, then lead them off that topic. Here’s why. Let’s say an applicant tells you they have 3 young children and you spend time talking about those children. You decide not to hire the applicant. The applicant may then believe or argue that the real reason they weren’t hired is because they disclosed they had 3 young children. This is protected under familial discrimination.
  3. Do not ask an applicant if they have a car. You cannot refuse to hire someone if they don’t have a car. Instead ask the applicant if they have reliable transportation. If they say yes, then leave it alone.
  4. Do not ask an applicant how many days they missed last year. If they disclose that they missed 32 days due to illness you will have problem. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers need to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and the applicant may have just disclosed to you that they have a disability. If that applicant isn’t hired, they could argue that it was because of their disclosed disability.
  5. Do not ask about the applicant’s last name. This may seem like a great icebreaker especially if you think you might have something in common. However, conversation about a person’s last name can infer information about race, color, religion and national origin.

SERPEO can help with your hiring process. We can assist you by creating interview questions that assure you hire the right people. We can also make sure your entire hiring and on-boarding procedures are compliant with Federal, State and Local law.

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