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Subjective hiring criteria are fine–if you can cite a sound business reason

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in Hiring,Human Resources

When you have several good applicants for a job opening, picking the best-qualified candidate isn’t easy. While you should be as objective as possible, the final decision can have a subjective element.

Just make sure you document a good business reason to back up your choice. That can include something as simple as being well-prepared for the job interview.

Recent case: Scott, a St. Paul firefighter, injured his knee. When promotions opened up, he took the qualifying test and had the highest score. Candidates were told to prepare for the interview by studying the department’s mission statement and thinking about how they would further that mission.

Scott wasn’t selected. The super­visor who made the final decision passed him over for a candidate who scored lower on the test. As ­justification, he noted that Scott and other unsuccessful candidates hadn’t been well prepared for the interview.

Scott sued, alleging he had been rejected because of his knee injury. As proof, he cited the fact that he received the high score on the test.

The 8th Circuit said that wasn’t enough to show he was the victim of discrimination. The supervisor had the right to pick the candidate he felt was the best overall. Plus, the supervisor was consistent; he had also rejected another high scoring candidate. (St. Martin v. City of St. Paul, No. 11-1716, 8th Cir., 2012)

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