Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Avoiding Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process

Hiring a worker for an open position in your company is not an easy task. There are several variables at play and many factors that you must consider before you make a decision. At the top of the list should be skills and qualifications. Hiring someone that will fit into your corporate culture is another factor. What should not be a factor in your hiring process though is age.

For one, it is illegal to discriminate against older job seekers under the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Unfortunately, the law only protects those that are 40 years or older. Even though it is against the law, age discrimination in the hiring process still occurs. Older job seekers are politely turned away for younger, more malleable workers. Not only is this wrong, but by cancelling out job seekers of an older age you are missing out on great talent and skills. Experienced, seasoned workers can bring much and more to the table and should not be pushed to the side.

So what kind of actions can you take to be sure you are not discriminating against job seekers in the hiring process?

Even if you are not overtly discriminating against job seekers, you may be making some wrong moves in the hiring process and giving job seekers the wrong impression. Here are some things you should keep in mind to avoid age discrimination at all costs.

Job Post
You need to be sure that the language you are using in your job post is not showing a preference for a specific age group- particularly for younger job seekers. Your job posts and job descriptions should be open to job seekers of all ages. Of course, if you are hiring for an internship and it is required that the intern be enrolled in a university, then that is a different story. However, if this is a job- even an entry-level job- you should be sure the language you are using does not hint at age discrimination.

Document Your Process
If you are accused of age discrimination in the hiring process and have no documents to prove that you were hiring lawfully, then you may find yourself in a legal dilemma. Keeping records of your recruitment process will not only help prove that you were practicing legit hiring, but it will also help you stay organized as you look for future employees. If you make a decision not to hire a candidate, then you should document why. This is another reason video interviews are such a great tool to use in the hiring process.

With a recorded clip of your video interview with a candidate, it is easy to go back and show someone why you chose not to hire them. Perhaps their answers to your interview questions weren’t up to par. Rather than just going off your word, if you are accused of age discrimination and utilized video interviews you have hardcore evidence to back up your claim. Video interviews aren’t just great for combating age discrimination, but other discrimination as well.

Collaborate on the Hire
If you openly collaborate with coworkers and other managers in the hiring process, it is much more difficult to discriminate against certain job seekers. With others in the mix the decision no longer belongs to just you, and the chances of age discrimination taking place are whittled down significantly. On top of that, gathering other opinions on candidates is a great way to increase the chances of you making a great hire.

Think Before You Respond
If the candidates that you turned down for the job inquire about why they were not hired, be sure to carefully and clearly articulate why. Perhaps this is why most employers or hiring managers avoid listing specifics when job seekers request feedback on why they were not hired. If you are unsure of what to say, then it is a good idea to consult managers, coworkers or other higher-ups. You need to be sure that the reasons you are giving this candidates are completely void of any discriminatory hints or reasons. Failure to do this can mean big legal issues for you down the road.

Avoiding discrimination in the hiring process should not be a difficult thing to accomplish. However, taking certain measures to avoid it altogether is the best course of action.

Have you ever faced age discrimination in the hiring process? Talk about it in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by sicamp

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter

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