The Great Resignation has short-handed employers scrambling to fill jobs. While organizations are eager to move quickly to find and onboard new employees, it’s essential that people involved in hiring conduct a fair and legal hiring process that complies with labor and employment laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects job seekers from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Discriminatory hiring practices by an organization can lead to costly fines and potential lawsuits, and also result in missed opportunities to diversify the workforce.
Now is a good time to take a critical look at your hiring process – from job postings and screening to interviews and formal offers – to make sure it is efficient, effective and complies with anti-discrimination laws. Organizations can keep recruiting, interviewing and hiring activities fair and legal by following these steps.
Provide ongoing training to employees, supervisors and managers on fair hiring practices and unconscious bias to stay legal and objective when recruiting, interviewing and evaluating applicants. Interactive training that shares best practices for how to handle all aspects of the hiring process keeps your organization compliant and competitive in attracting the best candidates.
- Write inclusive job descriptions
Keep job postings gender neutral and free of bias. Remove language like “cultural fit” which signals affinity bias — the tendency to relate to and gravitate toward people who share the same race, gender, age or educational background. In addition, use short sentences, emphasize job responsibilities over requirements and eliminate jargon in postings to attract more qualified people.
- Ensure employment applications ask for appropriate information
Don’t put your organization in legal jeopardy by asking inappropriate questions on the employment application. An application form should avoid questions that directly or indirectly reveal, or could be perceived as a preference for, a protected characteristic, such as sex, citizenship, age and disability. When determining what to include on an application, ask yourself: “Can I prove that I have a job-related necessity for including it?”
- Use blind résumés in the screening process
Remove identifiers such as names, ethnicity and gender references from résumés to eliminate reviewer bias that can exclude diverse talent. Doing so ensures that hiring managers are putting aside biases to base their interview offers on merit.
- Assemble diverse interview panels
A diverse interview panel helps an organization see candidates from different perspectives. Ask members of underrepresented groups to participate in candidate interviews to pool opinions and data, and reduce the impact of unconscious bias during the interview process.
- Standardize the interview process
Structure interviews so every candidate goes through a consistent interview and evaluation process. Have predetermined job-relevant questions that interviewers are required to ask of each candidate and don’t allow them to go off-script. The law presumes that all questions asked in an interview will be used in the hiring decision, so it’s crucial to limit interview topics to only those related to the position a candidate is applying for. Also, stay focused on evaluating candidates based on job-related criteria and don’t allow Wi-Fi quality, interruptions by pets and children or a lack of familiarity with Zoom during virtual interviews lead to unfair assessments.
- Keep Accurate Records
Technology, such as applicant tracking systems, can assist organizations with managing the end-to-end hiring process and record-keeping. Federal law requires employers with 15 or more employees to keep employment applications, resumes, interview notes and other related hiring information for at least one year after a no hire/hire decision. Federal contractors with 50 or more employees must keep these records for two years.
As organizations across industries seek to find and retain top talent during the current labor shortage, it’s important to avoid unfair hiring practices that can lead to costly discrimination claims. Training employees, managers and supervisors on fair hiring practices and how to prevent personal biases from creeping into the recruitment, interview and selection process ensures organizations hire the best candidate and no one is denied a career opportunity based on their individual characteristics.
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