In our webinars about “How to Hire Top Talent When it’s Hard to Find Good People,” there were a few popular takeaways the audiences had. First, they learned not to be super casual with candidates during the interview process. Believe it or not, even just asking “how was your weekend?” can be troublesome. The candidate can share what church they attended or what medical condition they came down with and now you are aware of personal information. If you don’t hire the person, they might file a discrimination claim about how you were aware of their religion or medical issue and that is why the candidate wasn’t hired. Asking how someone’s weekend was isn’t illegal, but we suggest switching to questions even more neutral, such as the weather or an exciting sports event that happened over the weekend.
Second, they were surprised to learn that according to SHRM*, 92% of applicants never finish online job applications. If your job posting is struggling to receive applications, we recommend sitting through your organization’s application process and determining ways to make it shorter, more user-friendly, less repetitive, and more succinct.
Finally, it didn’t occur to some that interviewers really shouldn’t be acknowledging where someone lives. And it’s easy to do that in an interview, especially when trying to make small talk. You might see the city someone lists as their address and say, “oh, I have family who lives there”. By acknowledging where the candidate lives, you might have an unconscious bias about the town’s socio-economic status and base your hiring decision on that. While socio-economic status isn’t a protected class, where someone lives doesn't make them qualified or not for the job, so it should be avoided. An exception is if you are concerned with the commute. In that case, you can say “the hours for the position are 8am-5pm; will that work for you?” And just make sure to ask the same question to all candidates.