WHEN HIRING, YOU WANT TO PULL FROM A DIVERSE GROUP OF QUALIFIED AND TALENTED APPLICANTS; so logically, you would assume that means you should ask diverse job interview questions, right? Not necessarily.
The process of hiring is flat-out stressful. You’ve got to let people know that you are hiring. You hope you’re attracting the best candidates. You spend hours sifting through applications to determine who you should interview. Then you need to make sure your team conducts the right interview.
Did you know that by asking the wrong job interview questions, you could not only lose out on a great applicant, but also land yourself in legal trouble?
THE LEGAL ISSUE OF JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
According to a 2014 CareerBuilder study, 20% of managers have unknowingly asked illegal job interview questions. If you’ve got five restaurants in your chain, chances are very good—based on this survey—that at least one of your managers has unknowingly asked a
job applicant an illegal question. Sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it?
If you think this can’t possibly happen to you, look at these employers who crossed the line during the interview process:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
In his book The Terror Presidency, Jack Goldsmith detailed his experience interviewing with the Department of Justice. He explained how he was repeatedly questioned regarding his political association and loyalty. His story subsequently helped to expose a pattern of political discrimination in the DOJ.
JOE’S STONE CRAB
The Miami dining establishment was found guilty of gender discrimination in their hiring process. While it is not clear if they explicitly asked inappropriate questions, it was clear to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the judge that Joe’s actively
selected only male applicants for server positions.
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
Samantha Elauf, a Muslim teenager who wore a headscarf, was denied employment by Abercrombie & Fitch because she would not conform to their “Look Policy.” In this case of religious discrimination, A&F made an assumption about Elauf’s beliefs based on how she was dressed and they were found guilty due to their lack of accommodation for applicants (and employees).
HOW TO INTERVIEW SOMEONE — THE RIGHT (AND LEGAL) WAY
The examples above are obviously extreme cases of how companies used illegal and unethical means to identify applicants. As an employer in the restaurant industry, it’s your responsibility to do better than that.
If you want to know how to interview someone the right way, the #1 thing you need to do is use open ended questions that focus on skills and prior experience rather than on who a person is, where they come from, etc.
If you want to stay on the right side of the law, you’ve got to make sure your entire organization is on board. If you don’t already have an interview plan and process in place, consider the following:
LEARN THE LAWS
Any discrimination against a job applicant or employee based on their gender, race, religion, nationality, or any other form of personal identifier is illegal.
TRAIN YOUR TEAM
It’s not enough for you to understand what’s legal and what’s not. Ensure that your HR team and any other staff who has a hand in hiring is well-informed and provided with thorough training.
If you haven’t done so, set up interview question templates that your entire team—and every single location—has access to. You can create different templates for each job to ensure that every question asked is legal, ethical and fair.
Make sure you have an HR and operations management solution that will give you full visibility into your company’s interview process. Each team member, in every location, must be aware of your anti-discrimination policy. By providing them with the proper resources, you can ensure that everyone is on board with fair hiring practices.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Sagi Rochman and Better Chains
Better Chains Founder and CEO, Sagi Rochman, is an international hospitality owner
and technology innovator. After honing his restaurateur career in Israel, Rochman moved
to Long Beach and opened up Sachi Bar and Sababa. When he met Marty Cox, President and Founder of It’s a Grind Coffee Franchise, they decided to collaborate on what is now, Better Chains: a technology firm that simplifies restaurant operation systems.
“Technology is the answer,” he said. “The restaurants must jump in.”
Better Chains products range from applicant tracking systems, to training modules, to staff
scheduling and more. For more information, visit www.betterchains.com.