After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

For Discriminating Readers

Discriminating is an integral part of the hiring process. Yes, I said it.

Discriminate is not always a bad word.  Think of a discriminating eye or a discriminating palate.  In these cases “discriminating” means discerning in matters of taste or recognizing fine distinctions. Here are some synonyms from my trusty online thesaurus:  distinguish, tell apart, differentiate, classify, categorize.  In short – discriminating is the stated goal of every interviewing process.

Employers are allowed to discriminate based on the following characteristics of a job candidate, as well as many others:

·         Education
·         Related experience
·         Communication skills, both spoken and written
·         Perceived intelligence
·         Likability
·         Energy level
·         Hobbies
·         Personal hygiene
·         Use of profanity
·         Sense of humor
·         Annoying vocal inflections
·         Bad tie
·         Etc,etc,etc.

Please note that I am not saying that it is WISE to discriminate based on any or all of the above characteristics, just that it is not prohibited by law.

But the following types of discrimination are expressly prohibited by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines:

Under the laws enforced by EEOC, it is illegal to discriminate against someone (applicant or employee) because of that person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to retaliate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The law forbids discrimination in every aspect of employment.

I conduct my business in strict adherence to EEOC guidelines.  I trust and advise my clients to do the same.  In fact, I believe it is not only illegal, but stupid, to participate in the prohibited types of discrimination.  All individuals should be screened and judged as individuals, not part of a larger group, so as to not miss an individual who might be the best possible fit for your position. 

But candidates, beware.  So far, there is no law requiring an employer to hire the guy with purple spiked hair or the girl with the dragon tattoo.

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