Hire the Right Person - And Stay Out of Trouble Doing It

Interviewing job candidates has never been easy. But now, a growing list of legal pitfalls is making a tough job even tougher.

Fortunately, there are techniques that can help you hire the right person and stay out of trouble while you're doing it. Here are some of the most important:

Never take pre-employment interviewing lightly. It is, perhaps, the most critical part of the employment process. The information you obtain from the candidates will become the most important factor in your decision.

When Can a Discrimination Charge Be Filed?

In most areas, a charge must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days from the date of the alleged discrimination. In a small number of areas where a state or local employment discrimination law does not apply, a charge must be filed within 180 days.

- Source: The EEOC

What Not to Ask

Know the type of questions that can lead to litigation. Interviewers must not ask about so-called protected classes, including race, sex, age, national origin, religion or disabilities.

Some questions seem harmless, but could land you in trouble. For example, asking an applicant what year he graduated from high school could lead to an age discrimination claim. The applicant could allege that you used the information to figure out his age. A better question is, simply, "Did you graduate from high school?"

Here are more questions that you should NOT ask during an interview:

In general, don't ask questions unless you can lawfully base a hiring decision on the answer.

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