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“Nine ways NOT to hire the brightest and the best”

September 6, 2010

This article was printed in today’s e-version of the HR Daily Advisor. I wish it were far from the truth, however, my professional experience tells me quite the opposite.

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Hiring is such a critical role for managers and supervisors, yet many of them take a casual or mistaken (read legally dangerous) view of the job. In today’s Advisor, we share a few of the worst interview approaches we’ve come across.

1. Great Interview—Fascinating Person

We had great rapport—we talked baseball (she’s also a Sox fan), politics (we share political views), and religion (she might start going to my church).  I hired her on the spot.

This doesn’t sound like an interview, it sounds like a match.com date. It doesn’t seem that the questioning ever got around to being job-related. This is bad news for the company and the new employee. Neither party is going to be very happy since there’s little likelihood that her skills will meet job requirements or that the job will meet her ambitions.

And on top of that are the legal problems. If someone who wasn’t hired charges discrimination, the company won’t be able to mount much of a defense. You don’t want to be on the witness stand saying, “I rejected the candidate who is a member of a protected class because she doesn’t root for the same baseball team as I do.”

2. Why Bother?

It’s not really worth too much effort in the interview because you never know how they are going to do until you get them on the job anyway.

If you do a thorough job-based interview and do background and reference checks you will have a quite good idea of how the person will perform. If you don’t put the effort in, you surely won’t find good candidates. And you surely will be open to lawsuits.

3. The Easy Way Out

When it’s hard to choose between candidates, I just hire both; then after a few weeks, I keep the best one and let the other go.

Moral questions aside, this is a poor approach. Terminations are negative all around and they breed lawsuits. Why beg for one?

4. I Demand the Brightest

It’s always good to require a college degree—then you know you’re getting well-educated people.

Your job requirements should be matched to the job.  Requiring a college degree for a routine or menial job is not wise. It appears to be discriminatory. And the people you hire probably won’t be well-suited for the job.5. Give Me e Football Player Every Time

Our manufacturing jobs require some heavy lifting—we hire fellows who’ve been on the local high school football team.

Evaluate candidates individually against job requirements.  Cast a wide net for applicants. Never specify a sex.

5. Give Me e Football Player Every Time

Our manufacturing jobs require some heavy lifting—we hire fellows who’ve been on the local high school football team.

Evaluate candidates individually against job requirements. Cast a wide net for applicants. Never specify a sex.

6. The Marrying Kind

I like to hire young men for this type of job, but I make sure that they are married—married guys tend to stay longer.

This attitude is triple whammy—age discrimination, sex discrimination, and marital status discrimination.

7. Keep It Simple

We hire all our college grads from one college—it seems to produce just the type of young person we need.

This approach may be convenient, but it is probably discriminatory, especially if the school doesn’t have a balanced student body.

8. Family Plans

You have to ask female candidates about pregnancy plans—what if you hire someone and then she goes out on maternity leave a few months later?

Avoid any questions about family planning, pregnancy and child care.  Stay focused on job requirements.

9. We Please Our Clientele

We hire sales associates who mirror our clientele—young, white, prosperous.

This will certainly be judged as discriminatory. Customer preference is not an acceptable criterion for selecting employees.

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