Q. When interviewing a candidate for a job, I became suspicious that the job-seeker was a tester. Her answers to my questions seemed as though she was fishing for a slip-up. Does the EEOC send out testers to see whether employers are conducting their hiring processes within the law? What about civil rights groups? — C.B., District of Columbia
A. Yes, the EEOC, civil rights groups, and even unions do employ “testers.” Testers from the civil rights groups are often looking to gather information about an employer’s hiring practices, while union “salts” are hoping to gain employment in your workforce where they can educate employees about the benefits of membership in the union that they represent.
Civil rights testers often apply for jobs in pairs, with the applicants apparently having all the same characteristics except one, such as race or gender. Their goal is to determine whether the employer is treating one or more protected classes less well than others.
Also, applicants are increasingly becoming aware of the laws of the workplace and are asking questions about employer policies during the hiring process, perhaps because they have had a bad experience in the past.
Although some may want you to “slip up,” others may be truly attempting to gain insight into the culture of the workplace.