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Making Good Hiring Decisions in Good Times and Bad Times (Part 2 of 2)

Making Good Hiring Decisions in Good Times and Bad Times (Part 2 of 2)

Date Published: 2011-05-01

Last month’s article featured Part I of II – Making Good Hiring Decisions in Good Times and Bad Times.  This month, Part II of II will discuss effective interviewing skills.

Effective interviewing skills can be developed if proper attention is paid to the hiring process and the needs of the company.  Last month’s article focused on sound hiring practices.  As a refresher, what follows are some recommendations made in that article for actions a company should take:

  • develop a job description for the position that not only identifies the tasks to be performed, but that also identifies skills and character traits (e.g. team player) before running an employment advertisement;
  • develop interview questions that are designed to elicit information about the candidate’s background skills and work attitude and the underlying reasons for any gaps in employment;
  • conduct background checks and verify the information provided by the applicant, including verification of past work history and education.

The purpose of the interview is to find out whether a candidate for a position with your company truly has the skills and attitude which are essential in order for the employee to be successful if employed by your company.  Oftentimes, interviewers spend too much time focusing on themselves during the interview, discussing their accomplishments and the company’s accomplishments rather than focusing on the candidate.  During a job candidate interview, an interviewer’s time is best spent asking a candidate about her qualifications, her background, and why she wants to work for your company, not talking about herself or the company too much.

In advance of the interview, an interviewer should do all of the following:

  • review the job description;
  • review the application and cover letter;
  • compare the information on the application to the position description;
  • develop open-ended questions designed to elicit responses about the candidate’s experience and qualifications.

Open-ended questions are designed to elicit more than a yes or no response.  While yes-or-no questions have their place in an interview, open-ended questions will be more productive and allow an interviewer to gain a better sense about whether the candidate possesses the right experience and attitude for the open position.

Rather than viewing the interview process as a necessary evil, a better approach is to view the interview as an opportunity to both screen candidates who have applied for the position with a goal of finding the best candidate for the open position.

Good interview questions will also elicit information from a candidate about whether she is a team player and how she might address conflict in the workplace.  For example, an interviewer could and should ask a candidate how she responds to conflict in the workplace.

Interviewers should also be mindful of the questions that are off limits under the law.  Do you know what questions are off limits?

News Tidbits

Supreme Court issues a significant decision affecting most employers in favor of employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

On March 22, 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. (citation omitted) and resolved the open issue of whether an employee who made an oral complaint to a supervisor that he was not paid properly under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is a protected activity.  Oftentimes employees do not put their complaints in writing, but rather mention their complaints or grievances to their supervisors or discuss them with other employees.  Employers are well advised to be sensitive to employee complaints (oral or written) about improper pay seriously.  Such complaints should be investigated, documented and corrected, if necessary.

The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) is expected to publish its Right-To-Know Regulation in April of 2011.

As you may recall, I wrote about the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act (“EMPA”) last year.  Had EMPA passed, it would have amended the FLSA by modifying rules relating to independent contractors.  Because EMPA did not pass, the DOL is exercising its regulatory power to promulgate a regulation addressing one aspect of EMPA.  In essence, the Right-To-Know Regulation would impose an obligation on employers utilizing independent contractors to perform a written job classification analysis and to provide such analysis to its independent contractor(s).  This is another example of the DOL implementing a bureaucratic solution when its preferred legislative solution was not achieved.

 A note to the reader:  This article is intended to provide general information and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal advice.  Competent legal counsel should be consulted if you have questions regarding compliance with the law. 

 Questions regarding the content of this column or past columns or suggestions for future columns may be e-mailed to Christina Harris Schwinn at christinaschwinn@paveselaw.com.  Ms. Schwinn is a partner and an experienced employment and real estate attorney with the Pavese Law Firm, 1833 Hendry Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901; Telephone:  (239) 336-6228; Telecopier:  (239) 332-2243.