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HRM CA | 16 Jun 2016, 09:00 AM Agree 0
A member of the hiring panel has posed an off-limits question – so do you speak up or keep schtum? One employment lawyer weighs in.
  • HG | 16 Jun 2016, 09:23 AM Agree 0
    Pretty well every HR leader that I know has faced this issue. When that happens in front of me I immediately tell the candidate not to answer the question, pause the interview and step outside with the interview panel and instruct them again on why we are following the set questions with each applicant. I see these moments as value add opportunities for HR and I get to do a little direct teaching with the managers involved.
  • Neena Gupta | 16 Jun 2016, 09:42 AM Agree 0
    BEST TIP GIVEN TO ME BY A HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION LAWYER: If you are a panelist and you hear questions that are off-side, you should interject (gently), "but we digress and we really need to focus, since our time together is so short." You can use it when you hear yourself going off a tangent too!

    Later on, you can advise your co-panelist that certain questions/discussions are off limits. I remember when one of my co-panelists was fascinating by an Arab Christian candidate and her life story, none of which was relevant to her qualifications for the job. I know that there was no consideration given to her origin/religion, but I still wonder whether she felt differently at the end of the day when we didn't offer her a position.
  • Jeannie McQuaid | 16 Jun 2016, 10:04 AM Agree 0
    I don't often interview in "panel" and it's never happened to me, but I think I'd be inclined to jump in and tell the applicant something like "You don't have to answer that question if you don't want to. It's not going to impact our decision on your qualifications."
    Enlightenment of co-interviewer would follow after the interview.
  • Henry Lowi | 20 Jun 2016, 11:15 AM Agree 0
    As a co-panelist I would do what I advise interviewees to do: Translate the offending question into a legitimate question: "What we really want to hear about is your availability to start work at 8 am, and do occasional overtime as needed." I would not "gloss over" an illegal question, nor confront it directly.
  • Henry Lowi | 20 Jun 2016, 11:18 AM Agree 0
    By the way, the offending question is usually not "Are you married?" Human rights standards are pretty widely acknowledged. It's usually more like "How do you manage day care?"
  • Hg | 20 Jun 2016, 08:23 PM Agree 0
    If HR does not hold people accountable when confronted with less than desirable behavior and maintain profession standards then I am at a loss as we ask that of our business partners.
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