How to Conduct A Job Interview Without Getting Sued

Banana

This is a guest post by Johanna Harris. Johanna has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book is USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace.

As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is interviewing an applicant for an open job position. The key is to be probing and thorough and, at the same time, avoid any questions that could be interpreted as illegal or improper.

Not sure how to ask the question?

Sometimes managers ask illegal questions because they’re not sure how to acquire important information that they are in fact legally entitled to know. A manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant can master all of the procedures required of the job. Unsure how to get at these qualifications, he asks the applicant how old he is – an illegal question. Or a manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant is available to entertain clients in the evening. Similarly unsure how to address this issue, he asks her whether she has young children – again, an illegal question.

Four main areas to probe

During a job interview, there are four main areas you want to probe.

  1. Does the applicant have the skills that match the needs of the new job?
  2. Can the applicant be available at the times and places you need him?
  3. Does the applicant possess the core attributes that would make any person a valuable employee?
  4. Does the applicant fit within the culture of your organization?

Skills

To ask effective, legally permissible questions about a prospective employee’s skills, you need to do some homework. That means learning in detail the duties of the job, as well as the level of skill required to perform those duties. It also means prioritizing job responsibilities, as some duties may be more important than others. The formal job description is a good place to start, but it certainly is not the end. Talk to employees who are successful in the same position. Consult with users of the services provided by the new job. Check out industry descriptions of the job, too

Once you know exactly what the job requires, you can craft pointed questions to the applicant that relate directly to the job requirements. That includes her previous work or projects. “How does your experience in the design of user interfaces for retail store management carry over to the healthcare field?” “How does your experience in selling heavy equipment to agribusiness carry over to marketing pharmaceuticals?” There is nothing illegal about giving the applicant an assignment – to be completed either at the interview or at home – that shows whether he indeed has the specific skills required of the new job.

While your focus is on the specific responsibilities of the job, you can still ask more general skill-related questions that help you get a feel for the applicant’s attitudes toward work and interactions with peers. “Have you improved at your current job?” “What skills or experience do you still lack?” “How do you approach your work?”

Availability

An employer has the right to know whether the applicant can be available at the times and places necessary to complete the job. Your task as manager is first to determine exactly what kinds of availability the job requires and then to ask about them up front. “Can you work 15 hours of overtime each week?” “Can you be available to entertain clients approximately twice each month?” “Can you travel out of the city for monthly sales conferences?” “Can you fly to California in March of every year for the annual sales summit?” These pointed questions put the applicant on notice. If he cannot meet these availability standards, he is at risk of being fired. Putting these requirements up front can also give him a sense of comfort that he knows exactly what will be expected of him.

Mobility may be an important prerequisite for advancement in your company. If so, then you should explain that up front, too. You are entitled to inquire, “Are you prepared to transfer from our branch office to the national headquarters?” Even if you believe that applicants with children are less mobile, you cannot ask him a question such as, “So, what arrangements have you made for child care?”

33 Quotes on Happiness

Happy Faces

 

March 20 is officially the International Day of Happiness.  Somehow I missed the announcement, but in 2012 the General Assembly of the United Nations created this day to recognize “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.”

I’m all for celebrating and for happiness.  With that in mind, I selected some of my favorite quotes on all things happiness.

 

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.” -Charles Spurgeon

 

“If you want to be happy, be.” -Leo Tolstoy

 

Happy people plan actions; they don’t plan results.” -Denis Waitley

 

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” -Marcus Aurelius

 

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” -Aristotle

 

“Happiness . . . is governed by our mental attitude.” -Dale Carnegie

 

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Gandhi

 

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” -Oscar Wilde

 

“Learn to value yourself, which means fight for your happiness.” -Ayn Rand

 

“Happiness is a byproduct of making someone else happy.” -Gretta Brooker Palmer

 

“Happiness is having a scratch for every itch.” -Ogden Nash

 

“The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.” -Carl Sandburg

 

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

 

“Happiness is a large, close-knit family…in another city.” -George Burns

 

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” -Albert Schweitzer

 

“Happiness depends more on how life strikes you than on what happens.” -Andy Rooney

 

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” -John Barrymore

 

“Nobody cares if you’re miserable so you might as well be happy.” -Cynthia Nelms

 

“When what we are is what we want to be, that’s happiness.” -Malcolm Forbes

 

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” -Mark Twain

 

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” -Michael J. Fox

 

“If one speaks with a pure mind, happiness follows like a shadow.” -Buddha

4 Leadership Secrets of Alexander the Great

Alexander The Great

This is a guest post by Joe Scherrer. Joe is a decorated Air Force veteran, an author, a speaker, and a coach. His ebook includes lessons from 82 of history’s greatest leaders. You can follow him on Twitter.

History is replete with stories of great generals—heroes who saved their men, their cities and their countries. It is equally populated with those who failed in their task, sometimes spectacularly.

However, what few realize is that great generals and failed generals are sometimes one and the same person.

Alexander the Great is a case in point. He conquered most of the known world before most people today are out of college and into their first job. In an amazing eleven-year journey of conquest—unparalleled in the history of the world—he rode more than 10,000 miles, fought 70 battles without losing a single one and conquered from Egypt to India.

 

By being great, you can change your part of the world for the better. Joe Scherrer

 

But as great as he was, he also had a complex and volatile personality that led to some tragic mistakes.

Read on to discover a few lessons from Alexander’s remarkable leadership career that will help you be a better leader today.

Lesson #1: Seek Out the Best Mentors…Then Learn from Them

Alexander had the benefit of being educated in political, military, and cultural matters by excellent tutors including none other than Aristotle.

He also accompanied his father on several military campaigns and distinguished himself in battle at a young age.

He no doubt drew upon that upbringing when he assumed the throne at only 20 years old after Philip was assassinated.

Alexander wasted no time in using his position as general of all Greece to take the strong army his father had left him and expand Greek hegemony into Persia.

What You Can Learn: Prepare yourself by being open to what others more senior can teach you. They’ve been where you are, and they are where you want to be. Adopting an attitude of continual learning from those you respect will make you a better leader.

Lesson #2: Want to Increase Your Decision-Making Flexibility? What-If Everything

Alexander’s conquests brought him into contact with a wide variety of armies and cultures. To deal with the ever-changing military, political, cultural, and economic landscape, he planned meticulously, analyzed every piece of information and formulated as many alternatives as possible.

From a military standpoint, such efforts reduced his risk, increased his flexibility, and enabled him to operate with speed and decisiveness with his highly trained and exceptionally loyal army.

What you can learn: A flexible and adaptable strategy is a crucial element of your success as a leader. Systematic planning, a comprehensive view, and incorporating a range of options allows you to change your strategy depending on the situation and environment you face. In so doing, you can put together a strategy that will serve you and your organization well as you set about conquering your small part of the world.

 

A flexible strategy is a crucial element of your success as a leader. –Joe Scherrer

51 Days : No Excuses

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Arnold Sports Festival here in Columbus, OH.  Previously named the Arnold Classic, the event is home to one of bodybuilding’s biggest competitions.

I had the privilege of talking with the very first Arnold Classic winner, Rich Gaspari.  Rich has won numerous bodybuilding awards including the Classic, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and three time runner up Mr. Olympia.  He is also the CEO of a multi-million dollar supplement company, Gaspari Nutriton.

 

“Make sure your words are planting seeds of success and greatness in your life.” Rich Gaspari

 

No Excuses

9781939447135Rich recently wrote a book, 51 Days: No Excuses.  As you may expect, it is complete with a diet and exercise program designed to transform your body.  But it is much more than a book about the physical body.  It is full of stories about overcoming obstacles and staying motivated.

Rich’s personal story is compelling as he overcame numerous obstacles to win competitions and then overcame different obstacles to form a success business.

‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’ –Ben Franklin

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

His story is for you if:

  • You have ever been told, “You can’t do that.”
  • You are looking to change yourself in 51 days.
  • You have experienced rock bottom.
  • You have felt disgust, anger or frustration.
  • You have a dream and need a shot in the arm.

RichGaspari&Skip1

 

‘No one ever excused his way to success.’ Dave Del Dotto

 

Success Begins on the Inside

One of my favorite quotes from his book:

“I still believe one of the most important choices is how we treat others. What good does it do you to build a huge muscular, impressive body if you are small and underdeveloped on the inside?  I’ve always felt that success begins on the inside and reaching our true potential gets blocked when we are small-spirited.” –Rich Gaspari

 

‘Don’t make excuses and don’t talk about it. Do it.’ -Melvyn Douglas

 

“Do not make excuses whether it’s your fault or not.” -General Patton

 

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” Edward R. Murrow

 

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave nor took any excuse.” -Florence Nightingale

 

“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” Don Wilder