Sometimes, a candidate stands out as a great potential hire. Perhaps she had years of experience or special skills that could prove useful. Maybe she is working on additional education. Or maybe she is bilingual, which could make her an asset for serving clients and customers who don’t speak English.
Whatever it is that signals this is a good hire, make sure you note it in your interview documentation. Otherwise, it may be hard to justify the decision if another applicant who met the basic job requirements sues and alleges some form of discrimination.
Recent case: Louatrice Henderson was 47 years old when she lost her HR job during a reorganization at the University of Texas’ Anderson Cancer Center. She had been invited to interview for positions within the reorganized HR office, but was passed over in favor of substantially younger applicants.
Henderson sued, alleging age discrimination. She pointed out that she had years of experience that several successful candidates lacked.
However, the hospital was ready. It pointed out that, all other things being equal, the younger candidates had characteristics that made them better employees. For example, interviewers had noted that one of the applicants spoke both English and Spanish fluently. That was something the hospital considered a workplace plus, since she would be able to speak to Latino candidates seeking jobs at the hospital.
The case was dismissed because Henderson couldn’t show that the hospital hired the younger applicants because of their age. They had skills and education that made them stand out as candidates. (Henderson v. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, No. 01-08-00376, Court of Appeal of Texas, 1st District, 2010)
Final note: Remind everyone who is part of the interview process to save their notes.