Greg Lohan

4 Things to Never Record on Paper During an Interview


When you’re interviewing candidates for a position, trying to find the best person for the job can be a challenge. Every person has different strengths, backgrounds, and personalities, and some are a better fit than others. It’s undeniable that attitude and personality plays a huge part is how a person will function in a team environment or even working solo. Every interviewer notices things that aren’t on paper that may lead to conclusions about a candidate’s ability to do a job. The key is to be careful about what you write down. If it’s put to paper, assume that it’s public knowledge. Here are four things to never write down that put you in a compromising position.

A Candidate’s Appearance

You can make a mental note of your own about a candidate presents, such as wearing professional attire or not, but never write it down. This can be construed in any number of unflattering ways and seem bigoted. For example, if you make comments on whether a candidate is feminine or masculine, it throws an unflattering question of gender inequality on the entire interview. Don’t make notes about someone’s weight or hairstyle, because it’s discriminatory. Even if you don’t intend to use the notes in the actual hiring process, and are just jotting down what comes to mind first, be careful about what you actually put to paper.

Questions about Ethnic or Racial Background

It’s illegal to ask about a person’s ethnic or racial background when you’re hiring a new employee. The law states that there are certain questions that candidates cannot be asked because they’re discriminatory, and ethnic and racial background is a big one. You also can’t ask what language the candidate speaks unless it’s relevant to the job, because it can be a question that’s actually probing for racial or ethnic background. Don’t ask these questions aloud, but be even more wary of writing them down. Under no circumstances should you ever make a note that a person speaks a certain language unless the job position has something to do with linguistics. If it’s not on the resume, don’t pursue the information.

The Difference Between Lifestyle and Availability

Never Record on Paper The Way You Felt About The Candidate
Never Record on Paper The Way You Felt About The Candidate
There are questions you can ask and note, and some that you can’t. Be careful, though. For example, you shouldn’t ask about a person’s family because it can be a way to obtain information about their sexual preference. On the other hand, you can inquire as to whether they’ll have enough free time to meet the demands of the job. This is acceptable, but the type of notes you make should refer solely to the candidate’s answer about dedication to a specific amount of hours. Don’t start writing about how, due to the fact that the candidate has children and a same-sex partner, their time will most likely be limited and they’re unsuitable for the job. Not only is this discriminatory based on a familial situation, but it’s also instant fodder for a law suit for denying a person employment based on sexual orientation. Stick to the facts.

Anything Outside Qualifications

If It's Not About Qualifications Do Not Write It Down
If It’s Not About Qualifications, Do Not Write It Down
The general rule of thumb that will keep you and your company protected is to stick exclusively to the qualifications of the candidate. You can ask where the person went to school, for example, since education is directly related to employment in many cases. On the other hand, don’t ask something unnecessary, like which year the candidate graduated, because this can be interpreted as an interview trying to determine someone’s age. This is also an illegal way to weed out potential employees. A good way to start is to focus on what the candidate’s resume already tells you. If the person voluntarily shares information, then you needn’t be as worried. For example, if you find out the person speaks Spanish, but they’ve already listed it on their resume, that’s fine. You don’t need to be wary of making it clear that you’re aware of this skill. Use the resume as a starting point, and stay on the straight and narrow of factual inquiries and skills related directly to the job.

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