What Every Supervisor Should Know
About Interviewing and Hiring

One of the most important things a supervisor is asked to do is to interview job applicants and select new employees. Selecting employees who can not only get their jobs done, but also grow with our organization is crucial to our success. This fact sheet is designed to give you an overview of how to comply with laws that apply to the hiring process and how to make sure you’re hiring the best employees possible.

Discrimination and Job Requirements

We are an equal employment opportunity employer. That means that we are committed to avoiding discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, citizenship status, or disability, as required by law.

We want to make sure our hiring processes are free from discrimination not just because the law tells us we have to, but also because we want to make sure we are choosing the best candidates for the job. Overlooking someone because of a factor that is unrelated to job performance is bad for business.

Clarify job requirements. The first step in the hiring process is to clarify in your mind what the person will be doing and what qualifications, knowledge, skills, and abilities are necessary to get the job done. this is very important because every other step in the hiring process from advertising to testing, interviewing, and final decision-making depends on what the underlying job requirements are. Clarifying job requirements is not just the “legal” thing to do; it also helps you spell out the job-related criteria for your hiring decision and makes sure you get the best candidates for the job.

Interview Guidelines

Use a structured approach. You should prepare for job interviews by outlining the structure you want the interview to have. This helps you make sure you’re sticking to what’s important for the job, asking the same questions of everyone, and getting the information you need to make your decisions.

For each of the job requirements you've listed as most important, ask yourself what you could ask to determine whether someone has this trait. Keep it simple, using only one or two questions per job requirement. Someone’s past performance at similar tasks is a good predictor of future performance. Thus, asking questions that reveal a person’s behavioral on-the-job history will help you predict how the person will handle the job.

Questions you can and cannot ask. Many supervisors fear interviewing because they have heard that the law prohibits asking certain questions. It is easier to remember which questions you can and cannot ask if you simply remember that anything that is not related to whether the applicant can do the job should not be asked, because it would be unlawful—and foolish—to base your hiring decision on it.

Usually when people ask an unlawful question, they are trying to find out something job-related, but they are just asking the wrong question. For instance, someone who asks a woman about child care arrangements may be worried about whether the person will be away from work unexpectedly or whether she will be able to undertake the traveling the job requires. If those are important traits for the job, the interviewer should ask everyone about them—both male and female—and ask directly about absences or travel requirements.
Copyright © 1994 Warren, Gorham & Lamont