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Tell managers never to show their cards before making hiring decision

by on
in Hiring,Human Resources

Now's a good time to remind your hiring managers that they should never reveal to job candidates whom they plan to hire. They should provide only neutral comments until they're ready to offer the job.

Why? As the following case shows, even one statement hinting about whom you think is the "most qualified" can show preference and, later on, proof of your discrimination. Such statements alone could outweigh your organization's defense that it had a legitimate reason for choosing one person over another.

Recent case: Loretta Wilson received progressive promotions during her career. When she sought a vice president position, the hiring manager told her she seemed like the "obvious candidate" and "even though women aren't typically in that type of position, we'll see what happens." The manager also told others that Wilson was the "most qualified" candidate, based on her experience.

Two male employees were also interviewed for the VP job, and one was ultimately hired. Wilson sued, alleging discrimination in the company's failure to promote her. A federal appeals court sided with her.

The court said the hiring manager's remarks weren't direct evidence of discrimination, but they could be used to rebut the organization's legitimate business reason for its action, that the male employee showed "better qualifications." (Wilson v. B/E Aerospace Inc., No. 03-14909, 11th Cir., 2004)

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