When filling a vacant position, an organization will often expand their advertising reach to widen the search for qualified applicants. However, certain practices might ultimately limit their applicant pool. Additionally, some hiring practices might seem like a clever way to appropriately define the search field to the best possibilities but are often unintentionally discriminatory.
Employees and applicants alike are afforded legal protection against harassment, discrimination and other unfair treatment. If an organization violates these rights, even unintentionally, they face serious consequences.
Certain hiring practices could discriminate based on age, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality or disability status. These practices can include:
- Advertising the job opening on only social media platforms that cater to a younger audience
- Using language such as culture fit, online savvy and digital native that might frighten off older, qualified applicants
- Requiring that applicants fall into a specific height or weight range
- Requiring that applicants pass a physical examination not directly tied to the job responsibilities
- Requiring that applicants live in a specific geographic area
Additionally, hiring managers must ensure that interview questions do not unintentionally discriminate. During the rapport-building phase of an interview, it is not uncommon for interviewers to ask questions of a personal nature. This is done to break the ice, but it can have a negative effect. For example, asking a candidate about his or her children might seem like an innocuous bit of conversation, but the applicant is now likely worried that the answer might somehow impact the interview itself. The interviewee might become nervous, agitated or confused and lose his or her focus.
While some of these restrictions might seem complex, it is important to ensure all applicants and potential candidates are treated fairly and given the same opportunity to excel throughout the interview process. Discrimination at any stage of the job search can have severe legal consequences.
If you feel you were mistreated at work or during your interview, it is wise to discuss your situation with a legal professional for guidance and insight.