Best Practices: The Hiring Process

The hiring process requires a lot more than just being able to conduct an effective interview. Federal and state laws and regulations apply to employers before an employment relationship is ever formed. As such, we can help you find out how to gather the information you need and choose the right employee -- without violating the law. As with most aspects of labor and employment law, consistency is key.

Job descriptions should define the essential functions of the job, the qualifications required, and the expectations of the employer. This provides employees with a fair idea of what's expected of them and gives the employer an objective measuring stick with which to gauge future performance.

Application forms should be completed by all applicants - we urge you to not "pick and choose." The application should request sufficient information so as to properly screen applicants, and provide notice of any particular conditions of employment (such as a drug screen or credit check) and of "at will" employment status. In Tennessee, the application should state "This is a smoke-free workplace."

It is important for employers to articulate criteria for each position and ensure that the application, background check and interviews elicit the information necessary to make an informed decision. Be sure to keep this information current.

Develop a consistent practice for advertising and internally posting job openings. Additionally, train all employees who come into contact with applicants during the interview process about acceptable inquiries, and ensure that they understand their role in the process. Remember, sometimes your best applicants come from internal referrals.

Use structured interviews to ensure that all applicants who are interviewed are asked the same questions, and if possible, use a standard system to compare interviews. In these interviews, make sure that your company has made an informed choice in designating employees to make hiring decisions and to represent the company in the hiring process. After all, these individuals will be first impression of your business for many of your potentially new employees.

Once you have a candidate's résumé or have conducted the interview, zealously perform background and reference checks. And, if you extend an offer of employment to a candidate, the decision-maker(s) should articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the selection. We also encourage you to perform pre-employment, post-offer drug tests. Again, consistency is key here.

Finally, develop a consistent policy of record creation and retention. Nothing complicates defending a "failure-to-hire" claim quite like a lack of applicable documentation.

Hiring the best employees is crucial to the success of any business. Let our labor and employment lawyers help you navigate these issues to ensure your business acquires the best talent available.

Call Kramer Rayson LLP at 865-525-5134 or contact us online. With offices in Knoxville and Oak Ridge, we regularly serve clients throughout the state and beyond.