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Interviewing & Selection

Appropriate Questions

At least three applicants must be interviewed.  If there are fewer than three applicants, all applicants meeting the minimum listed qualifications must be interviewed.

Some court decisions indicate that regardless of the outcome of an employment decision, if discrimination occurred at any stage of the employment process, the employer may be found guilty of discrimination. Questions about any of the following information can only be asked when these factors are bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ).  It is imperative, therefore, that persons interviewing applicants or asking questions in other interview settings be aware of and follow the guidelines on information which should not be sought from applicants.

All questions posed to candidates must be related to the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully perform in the position. This is to be accomplished by predetermining the questions that will be posed during the interview.

Interviews should be structured in such a way that all candidates will be providing the same or similar information upon which a decision will be made. Additionally, the interviewer(s) should have a clear idea of what constitutes a correct or most acceptable response.

Be consistent in conducting interviews and the questions asked of applicants.

Pose open-ended questions that allow the applicant to provide a narrative response.

Prepare follow-up questions that will ensure getting as much information as possible.  If a candidate introduces something in response that takes you in a new direction, or if the candidate only highlights experience, always probe for more information.

Focus questions on how similar work has been performed in the candidate’s past.  "Tell me about a time when you had . . . and how did you. . ." a candidate’s specific past experience is frequently the best predictor for future performance.

Be wary of asking questions about the future.  Responses to this type of question are often highly speculative.  For example, if you want to learn more about a candidate’s drive and ambition, ask questions that reflect on career movement during the past five years in previous employment or in school/college organizations.

Stay in control of the interview. If the candidate begins to digress from the topic about which you are inquiring, don’t be afraid to say something like, "That’s very good information; however, I want to focus on . . . "

Allow sufficient time for the interview. The more technical or complex the position, the more time is required to learn the best information about the candidate.

Take notes. It is helpful to prepare an interview form showing the questions and providing space for notes. If a committee is used, each member should use the same form. Write down responses to questions, as they are given. Tell the candidate that you are doing this so that you will have the most reliable information available when making your decision. At the end of the interview, it will enable you to summarize the information received and clarify where necessary. 

Do not ask questions that are unrelated to job performance. Questions about family, hobbies, the types of books candidates like to read, etc. can lead to accusations of illegal discrimination. Match each question against the benchmark, "How does this question relate to the job?" If you find that they do not correspond, eliminate the question.
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Prohibited Interview Subjects

The following are areas hiring officials must avoid when conducting interviews. Again, interview questions should be strictly limited to job related subjects.

Age and Date of Birth
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against individuals who are 40 years of age and older.  Restriction of employment is permissible only where a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists.

Name and National Origin
No inquiry may be made about an applicant’s maiden name, any previous name, a person’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, or descent. Names should be used to identify applicants but should not be used for any other purpose. (For example, do not ask someone "What kind of name is that?")

Specific inquiry into foreign addresses which would indicate ancestry or national origin is prohibited. It is permissible to ask for the current address of an applicant.

Birthplace and Citizenship
It is inappropriate to ask the birthplace of an applicant. It is also not legal to ask an applicant whether she/he is a citizen of the United States or to ask about the visa status of a non-citizen.  The applicant can be asked if they are eligible to work in the United States.

Marital status/relatives
The names of an applicant’s relatives may not be asked if the information is not relevant to job requirements.  Questions about child care arrangements and a person’s marital status are also prohibited.

Photographs are not to be requested or asked for prior to employment.

Height and Weight
Height and weight may not be requested from applicants and these factors be considerations for employment unless previously validated as BFOQs.

It is permissible to inquire about an applicant’s academic, professional, or vocational educational background when it is a job related requirement.  Asking about the national, racial, or religious affiliation of a school is prohibited.

Inquiry into an applicant’s religious denomination, affiliation, parish, pastor, or holidays observed is prohibited.
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Interviewing Persons with Disabilities

All inquiries must focus on the performance of the essential functions that make up the job. Even if the applicant has a visible disability or has volunteered information about having a disability, it is inappropriate to ask questions about:

An interviewer can describe or demonstrate the specific functions and tasks of the job and ask whether an applicant has the ability to perform these functions with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The interviewer may give a detailed position description and ask the applicant whether she/he can perform the functions described in the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

Questions about the essential and marginal functions (see essential job functions under Recruitment) may be asked.  Inability to perform marginal functions is not an acceptable reason for disqualifying an applicant for selection.

If ability to perform a specific function of the job is requested of one applicant, it must be requested of all applicants regardless of disability.
An applicant with an obvious disability or who has identified him/herself as having a disability that would appear to prevent performance of a job function may be asked to describe or demonstrate how this function would be performed, even if other applicants are not asked to do so. For example, an interviewer can ask an applicant who has only one arm applying for a position as a carpenter to show how she/he would hammer a nail.

An interviewer may provide information about regular work hours, leave policies, and any special attendance needs of the job, and ask an applicant if she/he can meet these requirements.

Possible Interview Questions
Interview Evaluation Form
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Reference Checks

Some employers do not release information about the performance of current or past employees. They may limit information to dates of employment and position held.  This is not a reflection of the quality of the performance of the candidate, rather it is an attempt on the part of many employers to avoid liability.  Ask a candidate to have a former supervisor call the interviewer, or have the candidate sign a form releasing his/her former employer from any liability and attach with a request for a written reference.

Prepare for checking references as you would for the interview.  Know what information you are seeking and ask direct questions to obtain the information.  The following guidelines should be followed when preparing and conducting reference checks:

  1. It is illegal to ask questions of references which cannot legally be asked of applicants.
  2. When applicants are asked to provide letters of reference or names of references, other persons should not be contacted for a reference without the applicant’s permission. It is not appropriate to contact friends, acquaintances, or co-workers of the applicant for "unofficial" information about the applicant without the applicant’s knowledge or permission.
  3. Departments must be consistent in the way references are checked.  For example, when a department asks for names of references, the department may appropriately contact only the references of applicants who make the first cut.  However, it is imperative that the same number of references for each applicant be contacted.  If a reference is not available, ask the applicant to provide the name of another reference.  References may be checked by phone or by requesting a letter.  It is not appropriate to request letters from some and check others by phone.  When references are checked by phone, it is desirable to have more than one person listening and taking notes on the comments provided.
  4. It is a requirement that references for each applicant be asked the same basic set of questions unless letters of reference are requested.  When letters are requested after the application review, it is still desirable to ask the person listed as a reference to respond to specific questions in a letter.
  5. The Office of Student Employment does not verify work experience, degrees or certifications. Departments are encouraged to verify information provided by candidates. 

Reference Check Form
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Candidate Selection

Once you have determined the most qualified person for the position, offer the position contingent upon successful completion and submission of all paperwork, ID and documents necessary to be hired.

Call Student Employment at 678-839-6433 to let them know who you have hired.

Personally contact the students you interviewed but did not select to let them know.

E-mail, send a letter or other to those you did not interview letting them know the position has been filled and thanking them for applying.
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