Recruitment and Interview Guide for Supervisors
Prior to entering into the crucial step of conducting job
interviews, it is essential that the supervisor be familiar with
certain guidelines that are determined by law or UVM policy.
The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College is
committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity for all people
without regard to unlawful criteria including race, color, religion,
ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age,
positive HIV-related blood test results, status as a disabled or
Vietnam-era veteran, or gender identity and expression.
Numerous civil rights laws and regulations govern employment
practices. The laws that pertain to interviews and the selection
process are generally intended to assure that employers use
nondiscriminatory, directly job-related criteria in selecting a new
employee. Be aware that you may not discriminate between candidates
upon the following bases:
Pregnancy - You may not reject an
applicant merely because she is pregnant. If the pregnancy would not
prevent satisfactory performance of the job duties, you must give the
candidate equal consideration for employment.
Age - It is unlawful to
discriminate in employment against persons 18 or more years of age.
Reasonable Accommodation -
Qualified applicants with physical or mental disabilities that
significantly limit a major life function are protected from
discrimination on the basis of their disability as long as they are (1)
able to perform the essential functions of a job with or without
reasonable accommodation and (2) do not cause a direct threat to their
own safety or that of others. For more information, contact Dana Hutchinson, the
Americans with Disabilities Act Liaison in the Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at
Arrest records without convictions -
An arrest without a resulting conviction does not serve as proof that
the arrested individual committed an illegal act. An arrest is not
relevant to that individual's ability or competency to perform a given
job. Therefore, an employer should not inquire into records of arrest.
Arrest records with convictions -
A conviction may or may not be relevant to the hiring process,
depending on the particular job in question. The crucial question is
whether or not the offense relates to performance of the particular
job. For example, if you wish to hire a shuttle driver, you will
carefully review an applicant with a history of traffic violations. If
you wish to hire an accountant, you will avoid an applicant with a
recent embezzlement conviction. These offenses are job-related.
However, if the situations were reversed and the applicant with the
traffic violations applied for the accountant position, and vice versa,
the conviction would probably not be a disqualifying factor. Among the
factors to be considered in reviewing the job-relatedness and relevance
of convictions is the relationship between the offense and the job
requirements, the remoteness in time of the conduct, and the
seriousness of the offense.
Sexual orientation - It is the
policy of the University of Vermont that a person shall not be
subjected to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual
Educational background - It has
generally been considered discriminatory to require applicants to prove
they have a high school diploma. Whether or not a college degree is
required for a position is a question of fact to be decided on a
case-by-case basis. Before you impose a degree requirement, ask
yourself whether a person with certain practical experience could
perform a job as well as a person with a college degree.
Gender identity or expression -
It is the policy of the University of Vermont that a person shall not
be subjected to employment discrimination on the basis of gender
identity or expression.
Conducting a Non-Discriminatory Interview
The following section notes questions you may want to include
or exclude to keep job interviews consistent with guidelines and
requirements. These recommendations offer examples only, and are not
1. Treat questions as job-oriented as possible. Review the PD
for help in determining what questions are pertinent to the job.
2. Thoroughly explain all of the duties and responsibilities
of the job. Encourage the candidate to ask questions about these.
3. Fully discuss all education, training, and experience
listed on the resume or application, especially in terms of how the
person's background has prepared him or her for this particular job.
4. Ask for a review of former work, if necessary, to determine
if the person has sufficient skills for the job.
5. Ask if s/he has had other training or experience, perhaps
of a more informal nature, that might be related to the job.
6. Avoid personal questions that have little or no bearing on
job performance. For example:
- Don't ask if s/he is planning to be married, has or is
planning to have children, if and how the spouse is employed, who cares
for the children, or if the spouse plans to transfer
- Don't ask a person's national origin
- Don't ask a person's religion
- Don't ask where or with whom a person lives
- Don't ask if a person has friends working at the
- Don't ask if a person has an arrest record
- Don't ask about a person's financial status
7. If a position demands full-time regular hours with limited
exceptions, or if it demands frequent weekend or evening work:
- Clearly explain this in describing the job
- Ask the person if s/he will be willing and able to make a
commitment to such a job
- Don't ask if s/he must take a vacation when the spouse
and children do
- Don't ask why the person has held solely part-time jobs,
even if the record indicates this
8. If the position demands lengthy on-the-job training and
orientation, and a fairly definite commitment to the job of several
- Clearly explain this in describing the job
- Ask if this is the type of job commitment s/he would be
willing and able to make
- Don't ask if the person plans to live in the area for a
- Don't ask the person's age
9. If the position demands a high degree of personal interest
in and commitment to a particular subject area, concern, technical type
- Explain this clearly in describing the job
- Ask if this is an area of considerable long-term interest
to the person
- Ask why and how s/he became interested in the field
- Ask what new aspects of the field s/he would like to
learn about or be involved in
10. If personal information that would otherwise afford a
basis for a claim of discrimination is offered voluntary, don't use
this as an excuse to ask further questions of a personal nature.
Instead, make an effort to guide the interview back to pertinent
11. Two final considerations to keep in mind during all
interview and hiring situations:
- Try to treat all applicants in a similar manner when
considering them for the position
- Keep an open mind to hiring a "nontraditional" applicant
for a position traditionally held by one predominant type of person
More information on legal and illegal interview questions can be found by clicking here.
Disabilities Act Guidelines for Interviewers
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits
discrimination against any applicant or employee with a disability if
the person is qualified and able to perform the "essential functions"
of the job, with or without "reasonable accommodation." Employment
practices covered by law include:
- other employment-related activities
Do's for ADA Compliance
- Do review job descriptions and selection criteria to ensure
that selection criteria are job-related.
- Do identify essential job functions for all positions
including physical/mental demands of each job.
- Do describe or demonstrate essential job functions to
applicants and inquire as to their ability to perform them.
- If requested, do respond positively to a job candidate's
request for assistance or accommodation during the interview process.
- Do keep an open mind to making reasonable accommodations
that will enable the job candidate to perform the essential duties of
- Do train employees with interviewing responsibilities as to
what can and cannot be asked in job interviews.
Don'ts for ADA Compliance
- Don't make inquires regarding a person's physical
characteristics, health, or disability on either the employment
application or during the interview process.
- Don't make employment decisions based on perceptions about
the individual's physical or mental abilities or disabilities.
- Don't limit an employee's duties based on a presumption of
what is best for the person.
- Don't segregate employees with disabilities.
- Don't refuse to provide requested accommodations during the
pre-employment or employment process unless such accommodations would
impose "undue hardship."
- Don't use qualifying standards or employment tests unless
such criteria are job-related.
Clery Act Compliance Requirements
Guidelines to the Clery Act require UVM to share police
statistics with all interviewees for a position. With amendments to the
Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 (renamed the
Clery Act), we publish our campus safety information for the university
community via the World Wide Web. The University of Vermont's annual
security report includes statistics for the previous three years
concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus, in certain
off-campus buildings owned or controlled by UVM, and on public property
within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.
The report includes institutional policies concerning alcohol
and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crime, sexual assault,
and other important information and resource referrals. You may obtain
a copy of this report from the Department of Police
Conducting the Job Interview
Chances are you may be feeling constrained by what not to ask
in an interview. The following takes a positive approach and looks at
what you should ask in order to select the best possible candidate.
Just as a job candidate prepares for an interview, so must the
interviewer. A selection interview should be as structured as possible,
yet tailored to each applicant. As an interviewer, you should evaluate
the same general criteria for each applicant. A selection interview
that follows a general standard outline will produce more reliable and
valuable information than an unstructured interview, and is less likely
to run afoul of laws governing the selection process.
Preparing for the Interview
- Review the PD. You need to learn as much as possible about
the requirements of the job to be filled - the specific demands of the
work, salary level, and the working conditions - in order to elicit
relevant information. Valuable information about the job can be
obtained in an exit interview with the person who is leaving.
- Identify the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities to
perform the tasks. Based on the previous employee's performance, what
qualifications were essential to success on the job? What did
unsuccessful employees lack? How much did successful employees learn
and develop while on the job?
- Write out your questions to make sure they are clear and
- Review each candidate's resume and application and note
areas to explore. This should be done ahead of time so that this
information will not have to be referred to continually during the
interview. Interviewers sometimes make the mistake of interviewing from
an application form. This type of interviewing simply duplicates what
is already a matter of record. Contact the Employment Office or
Affirmative Action for information on recruitment assistance, videos,
and websites. There are many resources available to support a skillful,
Based on these considerations, you should generate a list of
questions structured around these headings:
- Behavioral questions: These are
questions that seek demonstrated examples of past behavior as the best
predictor of future performance in similar circumstances. Questions are
structured, open-ended, and designed to determine desired competencies.
- Job knowledge questions: These questions
assess job knowledge that is essential to job performance and must be
known before starting the job. They often concern the technical aspects
of the job or basic knowledge that is necessary to learn the job.
- Job sample/simulation questions: It may
be possible to have the applicant actually perform a sample task of the
job as long as it is required of all interviewed candidates.
- Worker requirement questions: These
usually take the form of "willingness" questions such as whether the
applicant is willing to work under various conditions, to do repetitive
work, or to travel.
Conducting the Interview
- Establish rapport. If the applicant is apprehensive, it
may be difficult to obtain useful information. The interview setting
should be conducive to good communication. Ideally, you should use a
private office. You should be able to talk in a conversational tone of
voice and give the applicant your undivided attention. Forward your
calls to voicemail to avoid interruption. Make the applicant feel at
The emotional climate the interview creates will be even more important
than the physical environment. Your first role is that of host. A warm
greeting and a suitable introduction will help establish rapport and
create a pleasant atmosphere. Following the greeting, some small talk
is usually valued. It relaxes the interviewer and the applicant and
helps establish mutual confidence. A friendly exchange of comments
creates an atmosphere that allows conversation to develop more freely
- Explain purpose. Set the agenda. This will help relax the
applicant by letting him or her know what is about to happen. Also, it
puts you in control of the interview by providing a "road map."
- Gather information. Your comments, questions, and careful
listening are the keys to controlling the interview.
A common error of interviewers is that they concentrate on the next
question they plan to ask, and don't hear what the applicant is saying.
If you listen closely, you will be in a better position to ask
follow-up questions that probe deeper into a candidate's qualifications
than you might otherwise. If you talk as much as 50% of the time,
you're dominating the interview. Your job is to listen and evaluate.
Many interviewers fail to recognize the value of comments and
concentrate exclusively on questions, causing the interview to resemble
an interrogation. By only asking questions, you are making the task
harder. You are conditioning the applicant to answer questions rather
than encouraging spontaneous talk about things that might be important.
Avoid asking questions that require a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead,
ask open-ended questions that encourage the applicant to express ideas
and information and allow more freedom in response. For example, if you
ask, "Did you like that job?" you might receive a yes or no as an
answer. However, if you ask "What things did you like most about the
job?" you may receive several responses that will contribute to your
understanding of the applicant's motivation and interest. It will help
to write some questions in advance. Words like "why," "how," "what,"
"describe," and "tell me about," will yield more complete answers than
leading questions such as "Do you like to work with people?" The
question "What type of work do you enjoy?", for example, will yield
more information than "Do you like to work outdoors?"
Avoid the use of leading questions. This tempts the applicant to slant
answers to suit you. Your purpose in the interview is to obtain a
clear, balanced picture of the applicant's qualifications without
revealing the responses you hope to hear.
Note-taking can be helpful, especially if you have several interviews
scheduled. It helps ensure accuracy and demonstrates to the applicant
that you are interested in him or her as an individual. Be sure to
explain in advance what you're doing and why. One favored method is
holding a clipboard in your lap instead of taking notes at the desk.
Keywords or phrases can be jotted down. Try to maintain eye contact
while taking notes and be sensitive that writing down responses may
create tension for some interviewees.
- Describe the job and the organization. A detailed
description of specific duties should generally be saved until the
latter stage of the interview. By describing the job in detail before
this stage, you may be inadvertently coaching the applicant on how he
or she should appear and how to look as good as possible.
An interview is a two-way process. There are things the applicant needs
to know from you about the position and the organization. Provide
sufficient facts, favorable and unfavorable, about the position, your
department, and promotional opportunities in a direct manner so the
applicant can intelligently choose whether the position is acceptable.
- Answer questions and allow the applicant to add
information. This stage is directed toward the applicant's objectives -
to gather information about the job and institution and to sell him or
herself. You should provide the opportunity to accomplish both.
- Conclude the interview. Simply thanking the applicant for
his or her time and outlining what will happen next is an honest and
comfortable way to end the interview. Give the applicant an approximate
date by which you'll make your decision.
- After the interview be sure that all opinions, evaluations,
and additional information are recorded immediately.
- References. Since letters of recommendation often lack
candid and specific assessments of work performance, we advise that you
talk directly with previous supervisors. Such conversations allow you
to raise questions and gain information that is not commonly included
in letters of recommendation. Inform the candidate that you plan to do
this. Further, performance appraisal and other job-related
documentation maintained in Payroll Records may be accessed on
University candidates. Speak to your recruiter for assistance.
© 2011 Human
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT