A New Year’s Greeting to the EEOC

It seems like the HR world is separated into two groups: those who know and follow the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures and those who don’t. To help the second group defend their chosen practices, I’ve prepared a draft letter they can send to the EEOC with a courtesy copy to their CEO. TO: EEOC Compliance Department

CC: CEO, Corporate Legal Department

RE: Current Hiring practices

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DATE: Today How are you? I am fine. I was surfing the Web the other day and found your website. Wow! There are sure a lot of companies who settle claims for six figures. I thought organizations had to lose EEOC lawsuits to pay those big bucks. I never realized that bad publicity and expensive legal fees often make it cheaper just to settle. Anyway, I thought the companies listed on your website might be really dumb, so I called their HR departments. Did you know they also use interviews and job descriptions just like we do? Small world! They must just be really unlucky. It’s a good thing our test vendors assure me our tests are valid. We can sleep at night with the knowledge that we don’t have to worry about EEOC claims. Incidentally, it is probably just a coincidence there aren’t any vendor names on your settlement list. Right? One of the companies I spoke with told me about the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. I started to read it, but it’s really long and detailed. Can you please make it shorter and less complicated? We have enough trouble finding applicants, let alone following a long list of bureaucratic rules. And another thing, do you folks know how hard it is to get managers to cooperate? Gripe, gripe, gripe. Managers are always complaining about high turnover, open seats, and low performance. They forget that HR doesn’t have a budget for the kind of things the EEOC would like us to do. Besides, it’s not our fault if line managers hire losers. We give every hiring manager plenty of opportunity turn down any applicant after we get to know them. Geez! You would think our department is supposed to have some kind of people-measurement expertise! I have to admit, your suggestion about doing a job analysis sounds like a good idea. We’ll start just as soon as our trainers finish with their current workshops. By the way, senior management is pretty excited about our head trainer’s promise to build one set of competencies that can be used for all jobs! And what is with all these “validation” studies you expect us to do? Content, construct, criterion, predictive, concurrent… How are we supposed to understand all this academic stuff? We learn as we go in this department. Our managers have plenty of war stories about the tests we give applicants ó that should be enough for anyone! Our HR team recently suggested we use the same tests for hiring as we use in workshops. Trainers have more experience with test vendors, and I’m sure vendors would never lie about their tests. Some of the private psychological stuff we learn about people is really interesting. Sure, folks don’t always like telling us about their sexual preferences and marital indiscretions, but we take this reluctance as a sign of being uncooperative and a potentially poor team player. By the way, what is this 80% test thing? We passed this idea around our office and no one could understand what you wanted us to do. We finally concluded the government wanted us to hire 80% of minorities who applied. As long as we are on the subject, what’s wrong with asking about a person’s martial status, family plans, or religious beliefs? We want people to be like us. Questions like these help use learn if a female applicant is going to quit because she gets pregnant or if an old applicant can do the job. Meddling with our favorite questions will have a serious impact on meeting our diversity goals. My recruiters want to get to know the applicant during the interview, not interrogate them. Other than using the test from our workshops, our legal department said not to use tests, only interviews. In conclusion, I have brainstormed a list of suggestions the EEOC might want to add to your website (you have my permission to reprint and distribute them freely):

  1. Simplify hiring by having trainers develop one set of competencies and measure all applicants against it.
  2. Reduce confusion by using the same tests in both hiring and training.
  3. Save time and money by asking vendors to supply validation data.
  4. Don’t upset managers by interfering with their interview techniques.
  5. Help support diversity by making the rules more flexible for minority candidates.
  6. Use interviews more than tests because they are easier to defend.
  7. Use powerful interview questions like, “What is your greatest accomplishment?” “Why do you want this job?” or, “What kind of tree would you choose to be and why?”
  8. Never give corporate attorneys a copy of the Guidelines unless HR wants to work harder.
  9. Take more time to “get to know” the candidate and less time testing.
  10. Never rigorously follow up on new hires ó you might be surprised.
  11. Let managers live with their hiring mistakes. It will teach them a lesson.
  12. Let external recruiters do your hiring. They are not subject to EEOC requirements.

We hope you liked our suggestions and will publish them soon. Have a great holiday season. See you next year! Sincerely, (Participating organizations can insert their name and contact information here)

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