4 Ways to Avoid Discriminatory Hiring Practices

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Piece of paper with the word discrimination written on it torn in half, indicating the end of discrimination

The United States unemployment rate is currently hovering around 4%, close to all-time lows. That reality, while a sign of a good economy, is also a sign of trouble for businesses looking to fill positions.

It can often seem like there's not enough qualified labor looking for work. Even when you find a qualified candidate, today's job seekers have much more leverage; this allows them to scrutinize hiring processes more than ever before.

Therein lies one of the chief reasons why businesses should do their deepest diligence to ensure they don't get accused of discriminatory hiring practices. To help you avoid doing something that could get construed as discriminatory, keep these hiring tips in mind as you search for your next new team member. 

1. Create a Detailed Job Description

One of the most proactive things you can do to avoid the perception of discriminatory hiring practices is to arm yourself with a well-written, deeply detailed job description.

Job descriptions should include all duties that candidates will be expected to perform while working, any hard or soft skills you expect candidates to have upon applying, and any educational requirements the position requires. 

With a thorough job description at the foundation of your hiring process, you can use it as a reference point to articulate why you felt a candidate did not meet the necessary requirements of the role in the event that a potential discrimination case arises in the future. 

2. Ask That Cover Letters Not Include Photos

There is a new trend where job seekers are including photos of themselves on their cover letters. While this practice adds a human side to the often impersonal process of going through job applications, accepting cover letters with photos could expose you to discrimination issues.

In your search for the ideal candidate, you must ensure the hiring process is as blind to non-relevant qualities as possible.

3. Ask The Same Legal Questions of All Applicants

To avoid any issues, be sure to have your interview questions prepared ahead of time and ask the same questions of all interviewees. In some cases, question deviation among candidates could be perceived as discriminatory hiring practices.

Also, be sure that questions are compliant with any state and federal hiring guidelines. For example, questions about religion, sexual orientation, and racial background are never allowed regardless of your local regulations. 

4. Have an Additional Interviewer in the Room

Almost all of the "he said, she said" components of a legal dispute can be avoided by having a third party in the room. In some cases, it's advisable to have two or more employees present for candidate interviews. Furthermore, one person in the room should take notes on the conversation as the interview is happening. 

With an extra set of eyes and ears, along with a physical record of what took place, you'll safeguard yourself against any questions of unfair practices in your hiring process.

Be Proactive

While your focus will likely be on reviewing resumes, planning pre-employment testing, preparing for interviews, and maintaining workload coverage while you search for the ideal candidate to join your team, it's important to keep fair hiring practices in mind throughout your hiring process. Taking simple, proactive steps in your hiring process - like writing a solid job description and asking the same interview questions of all candidates - can make a world of difference to avoid falling into discriminatory hiring practices.

Image Credit: five trees / Shutterstock.com

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