Is your company’s employment application up-to-date?
Are you confident your interviewers know how to collect pertinent information without stepping on toes?
For applications and interviews, it’s about more than avoiding being nosy: it’s about respecting the law in regards to anti-discrimination and respecting applicants’ rights to reasonable privacy.
When it comes to employment applications and interviews…
- Acknowledge background-checks on a stand-alone document separate from the application.
- Include language instructing applicants on how to request reasonable accommodations for applying or getting through the interview process, allowing for equal access (and potentially involving applicants initiating the application process independent of usual online application systems).
- Warn for credit and criminal background checks conducted on potential candidate.
- Don’t ask disability-related or medical questions: focus on the job and tasks at hand, and if the applicant can meet those requirements (with or without accommodations, which they may bring up). The real question isn’t about disability but if a candidate is able to perform the duties of the job for which they’re applying.
- Don’t ask for date of graduation unless it’s within the last 10 years—that can be grounds for age discrimination.
- Don’t ask about arrests and convictions: this breaks the “Ban the Box” laws by law or in spirit. The EEOC suggests limiting any inquiries to convictions–rather than arrests–and even then only those which would be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” They have also stated that an arrest record alone can’t be used to screen out applicants, only the conduct underlying the arrest, and only if it makes the individual “unfit for the position in question”–making for an area of caution best avoided. In cases of credit or criminal background checks, it is suitable to ask if there’s anything the candidate would want the company to know ahead of time. Otherwise this line of questioning would disproportionately impact certain racial groups and some states prohibit the use of arrest records in employment decisions altogether.
- Don’t ask for a photograph: if needed for identification, it may be acquired after the applicant has accepted.
- Don’t ask about marital/familial status: in many states such information is a protected classification.
- Finally, don’t ask about citizenship. There are prohibitions against employers discriminating on the basis of citizenship and such questions will be answered by the I-9 form. There are often other useful phrases, such as checking if an applicant is legally qualified to work in this country.
FURTHER ASSISTANCE —
For further assistance regarding acceptable phrases of inquiry for employment applications and interviews, here is a very useful table of advice organised by topics, questions to avoid, and phrasing to use instead.
Have a question related to employment applications, interviews, background checks, or anything else to do with hiring new talent? Contact The HR Engineers, and we’ll help you hire your dream team!