What Legal Actions Have to Say About Best Practices in Interviewing

By Posted in - Interviewing on October 4th, 2011 0 Comments

I recently ran across an interesting article that provided a summary of an analysis of employment discrimination verdicts and settlements associated with cases filed with the EEOC and OFCCP.  I was surprised by some of the facts revealed:

  • A significant number of issues with selection measures focused on the employment interview

* No cases involving interviews were settled out of court – employers took their chances

* 50% of the cases using unstructured interviews were found to be discriminatory while
only 13% of structured interviews were found to be discriminatory

  • Inconsistency was the most common issue with selection processes

* 91% of the cases involving inconsistency were found to be discriminatory

  • Penalties were exorbitantly expensive

* Cases that went to trial and were found in favor of the plaintiff cost organizations an
average of $13,306,346

The base rate of how often selection practices are challenged compared to the number of hiring decisions made is very low, and I am not trying to stoke litigation fears among employers.  However, I think the obvious conclusions from these facts reinforce some clear best practices:

  • Structured interviews are vastly superior to unstructured interviews
  • Standardized processes are vastly superior to informal processes
  • Not following best practices have significant consequences (bad hires, reduced productivity, wasted costs, and greater legal exposure)

These best practices are further supported by decades of scientific research (see my white paper, “The Evolution of the Employment Interview – The Arrival of the Blended Interview”).  I am amazed that in spite of the research, the legal trends, and extensive anecdotal  evidence of poor interviewing processes and results, many companies continue to fail to upgrade their interviewing processes.   It is relatively easy to drive consistency, improve accuracy and lower legal exposure through a combination of structured interviewing and interviewer training.  These improvements are made even easier today using interviewing management software technology.

I suspect part of the resistance comes from the hiring managers themselves.  They want to have flexibility in the interviewing process and the questions they ask.   This is understandable,but it does not mean that structured interviews and standardized processes should be cast aside.

There are two easy to implement solutions to overcome this resistance:

  • Involve hiring managers in the selection of interview questions.  Provide a menu of approved competency-based questions and let them choose which questions they are most comfortable with.  They also could add questions to the list provided they were reviewed to ensure job relevance.
  • Provide interviewers with a structured interview guide that contains three questions per assigned competency.  Based on the candidate’s responses and the interviewer’s preferences, they could ask any of the three questions to obtain sufficient behavioral evidence to make an informed evaluation.

These two steps would provide flexibility in approach while still ensuring a standardized process and a structured interview.

If you are interested in learning how OMNIview can assist you in effectively implementing professional interview practices, please call us at 877.426.6222.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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