Interviewing prospective employees these days can be a mine field. How can an employer uncover performance issues, behavioral patterns, and ethical standards while still avoiding questions that are deemed to be discriminatory under the law? One particular area of concern in workplaces that employ people who are paid by the hour is attendance and punctuality. While you certainly want to ask questions to determine whether a person would show up to work everyday and be on time, here are a few things that legal guidance says you should NOT ask:
- How many children do you have?
- What are your child care arrangements?
- Do you own a car?
Many of us know that managing a household with young children can be challenging when it comes to getting to work every day. Daycare problems arise. Kids get sick. School events get in the way. What’s important to remember, however, is that some individuals have young children at home and manage through these issues just fine. It’s not how many kids are in the home, it’s how well the adults in the home have prepared for these occasional circumstances.
With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask that ARE legal and will still help uncover the desired information. Many of them overlap and are redundant, but sometimes asking the same question in different ways will reveal further helpful details.
- What hours of the day are you able to work?
- Is there anything that would prevent you from getting to work on time?
- We occasionally work up to two hours of overtime. Is there anything that would prevent you from working those extra hours?
- Do you have a reliable way to get to work?
- Do you have an alternative way to get to work if the first method is unavailable?
- Do you have other commitments that would cause problems if we needed to alter your schedule?
- What were your work hours at your previous job?
- Were there consequences of being late at your previous job?
- Was your schedule ever changed at your previous job, and were you able to accommodate that?
- How long was your commute to your last job? Would the commute here be longer or shorter?
Asking a person about their previous job helps reveal behavioral patterns and attitudes about schedules and timeliness. Using this information, you can compare and contrast their previous experience and performance with the expectations that you will have. What if the interviewee makes the following statement, “My old boss knew that I had a long drive and that my car was a little unreliable, so if I was late occasionally, he was ok with that. This job is closer, so I’m sure I can be on time.” Hmmm. Don’t ignore the red flags.
In addition, it is always a good idea to have at least two people interview the final candidates. That way, you can compare notes on the above, and on all other relevant interview topics. Small businesses might not have another person qualified to conduct such an interview. If so, contact Advantage Employment to learn about how we can help make your hiring process more successful.