These days, we live in an extremely litigious society.
That’s one reason why human resources expert Jana Tulloch of Tulloch Consulting stays so busy, offering businesses all throughout North America advice on handling job interviews.
“You can get into big trouble if you ask questions related to somebody’s ethnicity, their sexual identity, their family status, their friends, all that kind of stuff,” Tulloch notes.
Any job interview questions that aren’t relevant to the specific role itself need to be eliminated from employers’ line of questioning, Tulloch says.
Jim Webber, a longtime HR consultant who used to be an employment lawyer, implores business owners like body shop operators to avoid asking overly personal questions during job interviews.
Of course, he adds, when you’re interviewing another person, technically every question is personal. And that’s what can make job interviews as tricky as ever these days.
Business owners can quickly be saddled with a discrimination accusation if they’re deemed to be discriminatory during their hiring process.
That’s why Webber suggests that shop owners conduct job interviews in panels that include multiple co-workers like the on-site manager, and a designated HR official. Discrimation concerns are also why Webber and Tulloch suggest shop owners conduct well-planned job interviews.
Here’s a look at interview questions that could steer a shop leader into a potential “danger zone” … along with a road map explaining how to avoid them.
Any interview question that makes a female candidate feel uncomfortable could prove costly to a shop owner down the line, especially if they don’t end up making a job offer to the candidate in question, Tulloch notes. Strictly ask job interview questions relating to the requirements of the job opening.
BAD QUESTIONS: “How many kids do you have? If we need you to work overtime, how are you going to manage your child care?”
BETTER: “In this role, we require last-minute overtime on occasion; Is there anything that would impede your ability to work last-minute overtime?”
PHYSICAL DISABILITY QUESTIONS
Yes, working in collision repair comes with a certain set of physical demands. But now, more than ever, job interviewers need to be careful with the way they size candidates up during the application process. In that spirit, Webber says it's supremely important to keep that line of questioning as work-related as possible. Also, from a legal standpoint, he notes that it’s important to ask today’s job applicants if they require any accommodations to perform the role in question. Any questioning beyond that typically is a bad idea, he says.
“The more you’re dying to ask a particular question, the more you should take a breath, stop, and ask yourself why,” Webber says. “Is it a (legitimate) business need?”
BAD QUESTION: “Do you have any physical disabilities to any extent? Do you have an underlying condition? If so, how bad is it?”
BETTER: “Over the course of your career, how often have you missed work? Also, are you able to do this type of work, with or without any accommodation?”
GENERAL RESUME-BIAS QUESTIONS
You always want to avoid questions that might tip your hand with regard to job candidate preferences like someone who lives close to your shop, Tulloch notes. As a result, she suggests being careful about commenting on resume notes that have nothing to do with the job opening.
BAD QUESTION: “I see you live in Springfield; How are you going to get to work? Because I know they don’t have any bus service out that way.”
BETTER: “Our standard working day is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Is there anything that you think might impede your ability to arrive at work on time?”
Collision repair roles often require physical labor, so it’s only natural that a shop owner would seek a physically fit new hire. Still, it’s imperative that shop owners treat applicants of all ages respectfully Tulloch notes, and maintain an open mind about their physical capabilities.
BAD QUESTION: “Truthfully, you’re obviously older than many of our applicants, and it’s a bit of a concern for us, because your health might be a factor. Are you sure you can move around as well as younger workers on the shop floor?”
BETTER: “This job can be quite physical. There’s lots of twisting and bending involved. Is there anything that you feel might impact your ability to meet the physical demands of the job?”
SHOP CULTURE QUESTIONS
It’s of great concern of virtually any shop owner who’s looking to make a new hire: Will any of the applicants they have on file fit in with their current staff? It’s an important piece to the hiring puzzle, yet job interview questions along those lines can leave shop owners open to accusations of discrimination if they’re not worded just so.
If such job interview questions aren’t worded carefully, an applicant could perceive them to be code for a shop owner seeking to hire someone of the same ethnicity, for example.
BAD QUESTION: “What do you like to do in your spare time?”
BETTER: “What type of workplaces do you thrive in? What past job did you have that you liked best, and why?”
While it’s tempting to say something complimentary to job applicants at the outset of an interview, Webber says it’s best to avoid such conversational “chit-chat” with job candidates. Remember, he says: job interviews are professional meetings, not cocktail parties, and the mission of such a meeting is to find the best job candidate possible, not a new best friend.
“If you’re trying to make it Happy Hour fun, where people are laughing and liking you, you’re making a big mistake,” Webber says, “and you’re probably waving a bunch of red flags.”
BAD QUESTION: “You’re really attractive; What’s your secret?’
BETTER: “Sit down and get comfortable. Do you need anything before we get started?’