It’s impossible for everyone to remember exactly what happened during an interview held several years earlier. But that’s what an interview panel may be asked to do if a candidate sues. The best approach is to ask the panelists to take notes. Then you should collect all the panelists’ notes for potential future use.
Recent case: William, who is black, holds advanced degrees in counseling and related fields. He applied for a promotion with the state probation department where he worked.
The agency used a panel to interview the most qualified candidates, based on education and experience. William was one of the candidates.
The panelists’ notes show that William’s first-round interview answers—responding to the same questions that were posed to all candidates—were off-point, disjointed, rambling and failed to draw upon and convey his relevant probation experience to the panelists. The panel concluded that he was not the best candidate, despite his excellent qualifications on paper.
When he didn’t make it to the second round of interviews, William sued, alleging race discrimination. He alleged he was highly qualified for the promotion.
But the court said his interview performance also counted. Nothing in the evidence indicated that bias was to blame for the panel’s conclusion that William had failed to demonstrate his qualifications during the interview. That was a perfectly legitimate reason to reject him, which the panel carefully documented at the time the interview took place. (Carr v. State of New Jersey, No. 12-3764, 3rd Cir., 2013)
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