When it comes to promotions, be sure thatteam members in charge of interviews are all on the same page. That means ensuring they ask all candidates exactly the same questions, selected in advance for their relevance to the job. They also should make thorough notes about each applicant.
Finally, after ranking each candidate, the interviewers should make sure they forward to HR all questions, notes and any other information they considered. The interviewers won’t remember the details later unless they have something to refresh their recollections. Plus, what if some of them quit or retire? You may need to reconstruct the interviews and explain the decision-making process.
Recent case: Lavan Delgado, who is Hispanic, worked as a mechanic for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. When a promotional opportunity opened up, he and five other mechanics applied.
A three-member panel interviewed all the candidates. The selection committee decided on 11 predetermined interview questions, plus a written exercise asking each candidate how he would handle the same hypothetical problem.
After everyone was interviewed, the panel ranked them from highest scoring to lowest scoring.
Delgado came out at the bottom and was, naturally, not promoted.
He sued, alleging discrimination. He claimed that on two questions his answers were as good as—or better than—the other candidates’ answers. But the court said that wasn’t enough. All indications were that the interviewers had tried to rank the candidates based on the same criteria.
Using a transparent, well-documented and objective process that put everyone on an even footing allowed the organization to get the case thrown out early. (Delgado v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, No. 06-CV-0848, ED PA, 2007)
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