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Candidate tanks during job interview? That’s a legitimate reason not to hire

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

How an applicant handles an interview may say a lot about her potential performance. Of course, interviews also reveal applicants’ membership in protected classes like race, sex and obvious disability. As a result, courts sometimes look with suspicion on rejecting an applicant who was obviously qualified enough to earn an interview but who was rejected because of her interview performance.

However, if you do it right, you can use the interview as a reason to cut the applicant from the eligible applicant pool. Just make sure you have all interviewers keep careful notes that specify where the applicant fell short in her responses and why she wasn’t the best candidate.

Recent case: Towanna, who is black, began her career as a respiratory technician with a hospital and progressed to a management position in which she supervised more than 50 workers. Then the hospital was reorganized and several management positions, including Towanna’s, were scheduled to be eliminated. She applied for one of the newly created positions and was picked for an interview.

She wasn’t hired and sued, alleging race discrimination because most new managers were white.

The hospital argued she wasn’t selected because she stumbled badly during the interview. In particular, she didn’t explain how she would meet new, specific managerial goals under the hospital’s revised plan.

Her case was dismissed based on the poor interview. (Thompson v. Harris County, et al., No. H-11-4224, SD TX, 2013)

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