Tips to Make your Hiring Process an Easy One
ENABLE's staff members participate in many job interviews with their applicants and often are asked for interview tips. This is the first in a series of articles about the Hiring Process, adapted with permission from The HR Answer Book.
Just as candidates should prepare for interviews, an employer needs to prepare as well. The first step is to conduct a brief prescreening to determine whether the candidate meets your basic requirements. This can be done over the telephone, at a career fair or in person. When you are ready to conduct the full interview, outlining interview questions in advance will help you obtain all of the information that you need.
- Review the resume and prescreening material as a starting point for questions to clarify, verify and elaborate on the information provided.
- Ask behaviorally based questions rather than ones that elicit feelings or opinions. Rather than asking, “Are you a team player?” ask the candidate to describe a time when he or she worked cooperatively with others on a project.
- Use open-ended questions — questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions start a conversation in which you will learn if this candidate can help your company.
- Avoid common, overused questions such as asking the candidate to describe strengths or weaknesses. Answers to standard questions are likely to be rehearsed and uninformative. A more effective question is “Describe the strengths you would bring to this position.” Following these tips will help you gather the information that you need to make the best hiring decision.
If a question does not relate to the candidate’s qualifications and ability to do the job, there is no reason to ask it during an interview. Questions that focus on age, sex, marital status, race, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation are illegal. Many questions that may appear innocuous can actually be discriminatory. The following are sample questions that can and cannot be asked in three common categories:
Questions such as, “Can your husband watch the children?” and “How much does your wife earn?” do not relate to the applicant’s ability to do the job. Instead, try work-related questions such as “Are you available for overtime?”
Race or National Origin:
It is illegal to ask questions such as “What country are you from?” or “What kind of name is that?” or “Is English your first language?” You may ask if the candidate reads and writes English, if that is job-related. You may also ask whether the candidate has the legal right to work in the USA.
Employers cannot ask about disabilities during the pre-employment process. “Have you ever filed a Workers Comp claim?” or “Do you have a disability that interferes with your working?” are illegal. You can ask how a candidate would perform a particular job. You can also ask about attendance records at previous jobs, since absences can be caused by many reasons.
As a rule, designing questions with the purpose of bringing out information about the candidate’s work experience, skills and judgment will best equip you for making sound hiring decisions.
Before creating a job description announcement and beginning the hiring process, you'll need to determine the essential job functions and marginal functions (non-essential functions) of the job position. The essential job functions will need to be included in the job description. This information will be important for determining if an applicant can perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
For example, let's look at the essential and marginal job functions of a receptionist position in a professional office.
Essential job functions might include:
- Answering the telephone and assisting callers.
- Recording messages for department personnel.
- Greeting clients and customers.
Marginal job functions might include:
- Serving coffee to clients and customers.
- Escorting clients to staff offices.
- For this receptionist position, an applicant would need to be able to perform the essential job functions (duties) of this position with or without reasonable accommodation. The marginal or non-essential job functions are those that could be redesigned or reassigned to other employees, if necessary.
Whether or not a particular duty is considered marginal will depend on:
The importance of the duty to your company's operation;
- It's frequency;
- If there's sufficient staff to reassign the marginal duty to other employees;
- If the marginal duty can be redesigned or performed in another way.
- In other words, if the duty is viewed as important to your company's operation, the duty is performed with frequency, there isn't sufficient staff to reassign the marginal duty, and the duty can't be redesigned or performed in another way, the duty would be considered an essential function of the position.