Make Sure Your Interview Tactics Don’t Raise Legal Questions

By: Steve Swanston, Executive Vice President at JMFA


As economic and regulatory challenges continue for the financial services industry, the focus on attracting employees who have the experience and skill to provide valuable input into the daily operations is a top priority for human resources departments. However, make sure your selection processes are in line with federal and state laws to avoid legal scrutiny that could be costly to your credit union.


While it is true that the interview is your best tool for learning whether a candidate has the required experience and skills, make sure the questions you ask don’t stray into areas that are considered discriminatory. Not only could this cause you to lose a highly regarded job applicant, it could make your credit union the target of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation.


It is widely recognized that an employer may not make hiring decisions based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information, However, the line between legal and illegal questions is sometimes blurred as interviewers try to learn as much as they can about potential new employees.


For instance, it is illegal to ask a candidate if he or she is married, if they have young children, how old they are or how much longer they intend to work before retirement. Likewise, questions regarding where a candidate was born or whether or not he is available to work on religious holidays are off limits.


By focusing your inquiries on work experience, industry knowledge and behavioral-based questions, you can identify whether a candidate has the skills and temperament needed for the job you are filling, and avoid any discrimination concerns.


The Rules Regarding Searching Social Media Profiles

Another job candidate-selection issue that is attracting increased attention is companies requiring access to individual profiles on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. While some company’s view this practice as acceptable if a candidate provides his or her password, efforts by civil liberties groups and social media users to raise this as a privacy issue are getting results.


Currently, Illinois and Maryland have laws that make it illegal for employers to ask applicants for the password to their online profiles. Several other states – including Washington, Delaware and New Jersey – are considering bans and two U.S. Senators have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review whether such password requests from employers are legal.


While the law currently protects both current employees and prospective hires, it does not prevent employers from viewing information that isn’t restricted by privacy settings on the web. Just make sure you know your state’s position before you include social media searches on your list of new employee vetting activities.


About JMFA

John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA), a Preferred Business Partner for the Northwest Credit Union Association, is a leading provider of profitability and performance-improvement consulting. For more than 30 years, JMFA has been recognized as one of the most trusted names in the industry, helping financial institutions enhance their bottom line with programs like JMFA Overdraft Privilege®. JMFA is also recognized for earnings enhancement and expense control programs, training, executive placement, account acquisition programs as well as product, service, pricing and technology-improvement consulting. Simply stated, JMFA’s programs and services are designed to increase income or reduce expenses. JMFA is proud to be a preferred provider among many industry groups. To learn more about JMFA, contact Terry Downey, JMFA regional director, at or (971) 200-0022.

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