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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.

Q. One of our employees was recently in jail for traffic and drug violations. Before he returns to work, what guidelines can we follow to ensure that he’s drug-free? Will we be discriminating if we require a drug test before allowing him back on site, even though we didn’t require such a test when he was hired?

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in late September upheld a lower court ruling that the National Football League cannot suspend Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for violating the sport’s drug policy.

Q. Our company maintains an affirmative action plan. I’m concerned, however, that if we refuse to hire a white applicant because of the plan, that person might be able to sue us for discrimination. Yet, if we don’t follow the plan, minority applicants can sue us. It seems like a Catch-22. What do we do?

Imagine if baseball GMs, ignoring batting statistics, took potential players out for a beer at Applebee’s to test their culture fit. That’s what leaders do by using interviews to pluck out the best candidates. But interviews are less predictive of job performance than work samples, job-knowledge tests and peer ratings of past job performance.

According to an online survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, employers are not firing workers quite as often for faking illness to get a day off: 15% of employers fired workers this year because they faked an illness, down from 18% in 2008. It appears fewer employers have the time to check up on absent workers. So why are workers absent when they aren’t sick?

One easy way to cut down on lawsuits when you have to fire an employee: Have the same person who hired or last promoted the employee also make the final decision on termination. Courts often conclude that it would make no sense for those who hired or promoted someone to turn around and fire that same person for discriminatory reasons. This is called the “same-actor” defense.

The EEOC has cited national convention marketing firm Freeman Companies with discriminatory hiring practices based on the company’s use of applicants’ credit scores and criminal background checks in hiring. According to the complaint, the credit and criminal background checks are neither job related nor of business necessity. The EEOC alleges they screen out otherwise qualified women and minority candidates.

If you’re looking to remedy past discrimination by adopting employment policies that encourage minority hiring, watch out! You may be vulnerable to a reverse discrimination lawsuit. That may be true even if your policies resulted from a court order to address discrimination.

Too many leaders base hiring decisions on education and credentials alone. They fail to consider “softer” questions, such as: Is the candidate a visionary? Does the applicant think in a conceptual way? To help sharpen your focus, here are five questions to ask during job interviews:

You have to handle plenty of serious employee gripes about benefits and harassment. But as shown by a new CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 HR pros and hiring managers, you also have had to deal with some truly offbeat complaints. Some highlights: