You asked: “We have always taken notes on resumes during interviews. But I recently heard that was a bad idea. Why?”
It seems like a reasonable practice. You’re talking with a candidate, their resume is in front of you and you are asking questions based on that resume. Of course you’re going to make notes on the resume.
However, “best practice” is to avoid making any marks or notes on resumes and applications. The idea is that those marks, highlights or notes, no matter how innocent, could be used against you in a discrimination claim, should that applicant feel they were treated unfairly. Even a random doodle could be misinterpreted as an attempt to sabotage an applicant. Highlighting information or jotting down notes that could be interpreted as a reference to the applicant’s sex, age, race, religion, national origin, disability, or any other protected classification, could add fuel to a fire you never intended to create.
Here are a few good practices when processing interview notes:
- Create a standard Interview Evaluation form. This can easily be customized to each position. It will help you keep all interview notes separate from the resume and application. It will also keep those notes on track, limiting them to the applicant’s experience, skills and knowledge as related to the requirements of the job. (Rather than leaving room for judgmental comments about appearance, attitude or personal traits—all unconstructive observations that could come back to haunt you.) The form filled out for your chosen candidate could become an invaluable document to prove your decision was based on business qualifications should another candidate cry foul.
- Keep a file for each job posting. Your Human Resources office should keep the resume and application for all applicants and all the interview notes for each candidate in a special file created just for that position. It is best to keep this file for one year from the date your chosen candidate was hired. Of course, the resume, application and interview notes of your chosen candidate should be placed in their personnel file.
- Train all your hiring managers. They will need to be taught how to use the Interview Evaluation form (to stick to relevant observations only). And they will need to learn the process of forwarding those resumes, applications and interview evaluations to the HR department for retention.
If you would like help creating an Interview Evaluation form, please contact ECRM’s HR team by calling our office at 724-864-8745 or emailing us at the HR Counselors Corner address below.
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