Google has been in hot water since a series of high-profile discrimination lawsuits targeted at the company and comments by a former lead tech hit the news this month. On June 10th, it was announced that Google would pay a $118 million to settle a class action gender discrimination lawsuit. This news comes hot on the tail of (a now-former) lead Google tech, Patrick Shyu, taking to twitter to brag about how he would “trash” female applicants’ resumés in front of them during interviews, telling them to “go have some kids. Don't worry, I'm smarter than you, I know.”
Syhu’s inappropriate comments have the potential to land Google in a precarious legal situation Even worse, Shyu’s comments may keep highly qualified women from applying to Google in the first place, potentially even permanently tarnishing the company’s reputation. While Shyu’s outburst is particularly egregious and easily dismissed as something most reasonable people wouldn’t agree with, this is still a good reminder for hiring managers to make sure that their organizations are familiar with legal and equitable hiring practices.
How to Hire Lawfully
Hiring is tricky. In the era of the Great Resignation it's even trickier—applicants have more options than ever before and will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They want to make sure your company is a place where they’ll be comfortable. Your organization garnering a reputation as being discriminatory or sexist will make it that much harder for you to attract, retain, and promote top talent. While it’s easy enough to avoid outright sexism like Shyu’s “reject[ing] all women on the spot and trash[ing] their résumés in front of them,” many hiring managers and interviewers may not realize that they are asking candidates questions that are not only taboo for them to ask, but also illegal. And these sorts of questions can leave a bad taste in candidates’ mouths, potentially leading them to not accepting your job offers. But is your team aware of what questions they should avoid in interviews?
Some questions that may seem harmless but are illegal and often targeted at applicants who are women include:
This list is by no means extensive—in fact, there are many questions that may seem like harmless small talk in other situations that are actually either taboo or outright illegal in a job interview setting. Questions ranging from what year a person graduated to what private clubs they are a part of should all be off-limits for interviewers. The EEOC recommends “that you avoid asking applicants about personal characteristics that are protected by law, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age.” This means avoiding asking applicants questions about family planning, what language they speak at home, and even what church they go to. It also means avoiding topics that could lead to discussions about race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age. While the best interviews often flow like a conversation between the interviewer and the applicant, you still need to make sure your hiring managers are not asking applicants questions that could potentially alienate them or even result in a discrimination claim for your organization. That’s why training on lawful interviewing practices is essential.
But avoiding illegal questions isn’t the only thing your team should be trained on when interviewing candidates—your team should also know how to document interviews. In an interview, good note taking skills are essential. When hiring you’re looking for the best fit, so you want to be able to compare each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Well-taken and organized notes allow you to do this. But not only do well-taken notes allow you to effectively compare candidates, they also help protect your organization from a potential discrimination claim. Note taking seems like something that’s easy to overlook, but the stakes are high—poorly-taken notes can be used against your organization in a potential discrimination proceeding.
Simple mistakes made in the hiring process could be costly in more ways than one. Not only could you be turning away star employees, you could also end up paying handsomely for it. On top of this current news cycle involving their former lead tech, just last year Google paid out 2.5 million dollars to settle a lawsuit where the company was accused of overlooking Asian job applicants. This is why it’s important to make sure your hiring managers are trained on the importance of interviewing and hiring lawfully.
How Clear Law Can Help
Clear Law Institute, an expert in the compliance-training industry, recommends all "human resource professionals, supervisors, and managers” take a lawful hiring and interviewing training course. Since they’re so closely involved in the hiring and promoting process, it’s key for those within HR and management roles to understand lawful hiring practices.
Clear Law Institute offers a comprehensive Interviewing and Hiring Lawfully training course on effectively interviewing applicants, avoiding unlawful or poorly phrased questions, properly documenting the interview, and finally selecting the best candidate. If you’d like to learn more on this training for your organization, you can request the full course preview here.
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