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Hiring

When hiring employees, negligent hiring practices can doom the process. Learn from your colleagues’ successes – and avoid their pitfalls.

Smart interview questions, well-written job descriptions, and sharp interviewing result in hiring employees that work out well, AND make you look good in the process.

President Obama’s 2011 budget plan calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to hire 100 new enforcement personnel and gain $25 million in new funding to target employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors (ICs). This comes on the heels of a huge IRS audit program starting last month that randomly selects 6,000 employers for audits over IC and other employment tax issues. Here's a three-factor guideline on how to classify employee or Independent Contractor based off the IRS checklist:

With the unemployment rate still holding stubbornly near 10%, Congress this month approved a new $18 billion bill that offers tax breaks to employers who add certain new employees to the payroll. President Obama signed it on March 18.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 was enacted in response to concerns that insurers and employers could use results of genetic testing to discriminate against applicants and employees. Covered employers should consider updating their employment policies and practices to comply with GINA’s many technical requirements.

The new Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act includes a provision to extend the enhanced Section 179 deduction for another year. Without the extension, the maximum Section 179 deduction would drop from $250,000 for 2009 to $134,000 this year.

While subjective factors such as chemistry can play an important role in hiring, studies show that differences in race, gender and culture may subconsciously influence these feelings—and set you up for a discrimination complaint. Courts have flatly stated that the more subjective factors you use in hiring, the more likely a court will challenge your decision-making.

The federal government will begin accepting employers’ petitions for H1-B visas on April 1, the first step employers must take to hire foreign workers to fill certain “professional” and “specialty occupation” positions. A better economy means the available 85,000 visas might be snapped up fast this year. Here's how to get a jump on your competition.

Does your selection process rely heavily on how applicants handle themselves during job interviews? If so, be aware that courts are often suspicious of such inherently subjective decision-making. That’s why it’s best to document how objective qualifications counted for more than the fleeting impression of an interview. (For another perspective on hiring, see "The top 15 oddball interview questions" below.)

Employers are free to create reasonable rules for submitting job applications and make potential employees follow those rules. As long as your rules aren’t enforced in a way that favors one group of applicants over others, courts will let you reject an applicant for failing to follow those rules.

As hard as it is to believe, some managers still think they can use sex or race as the reason to hire one qualified applicant instead of other qualified candidates. Of course, that’s wrong, and it could trigger a discrimination lawsuit if word gets out. That’s why you should remind everyone involved in the hiring process that his or her decision must be blind to personal characteristics.

Recent workplace shootings in Orlando, Fla., and Fort Hood serve as powerful reminders that employers must heed signs that an employee could act out and harm co-workers or supervisors. There were 768 violence-related deaths in the workplace in 2008. Despite those disturbing numbers, many employers stick their heads in the sand. They put their assets and employees at risk by gambling that “it couldn’t happen here.”