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Worst interviewer ever

Last Friday, I was unfortunate enough to be interviewed by probably the most unprofessional interviewer I have ever seen.

Amongst some of his atonishing mistakes were :

* Asked me if I was married - this is illegal (unless the job description has a good explicit reason not to hire married people, and I can't think of one... )

* Didn't have my CV to hand, and hadn't read one word of it anyway

* Interrupted me mid sentence

* Swore (counted two "f**k"s)

* Held the interview in his main office without diverting calls, but instead interrupting the interview to book a holiday in Cyprus

* When asked about the company's history, talked about recent redundancies and 30% reduced turnover

* When claiming to be a techie, used phrases like "that new fangled object oriented stuff"

* When asked "What are your favourite computing / IT books" (a question I always drop in to interviews, just out of interest), he said he hadn't read any apart from "The Road Ahead" by Bill Gates

I got the interview over with as quickly as I could and fled full speed away from the place.

Anybody got any worse war stories?

Better than being unemployed...
Monday, February 17, 2003

"that new fangled object oriented stuff"

I actually laught out loud when I read this.

Eric DeBois
Monday, February 17, 2003

Oh, that's probably something I'd say.  But, you know, in a highly ironic way.  Something tells me that wasn't the context... ;>

Sam Gray
Monday, February 17, 2003

In some cases, whether someone is married MAY have an impact on their ability to do the job required.  (For example, periodic weekend shifts for global production support)  I do not feel this should be an illegal question.  Hiring should be an open and honest discussion that seeks to make a match from BOTH perspectives.  (Flame on)

Bella
Monday, February 17, 2003

I remember when I was single, I had band related activities on a Saturday or Sunday and wouldn't take kindly to being asked to work on the weekend.

I fail to see how your marital status makes any difference here.

Better than being unemployed...
Monday, February 17, 2003

(FWIW, I'm not married, I'm "cohabiting", "living together" or some other phrase to mean we can't think of a reason to get married at the moment...)

Better than being unemployed...
Monday, February 17, 2003

"I do not feel this should be an illegal question."

Bella, in a democracy things are decided by majority vote.  There's always going to be a minority that disagrees with things that are decided upon.  But that doesn't mean they're free to violate the rules. 

In short, who cares if you don't think it should be illegal?  You may even have good reasons for thinking so.  But that's not a justification for violating the law. 

Herbert Sitz
Monday, February 17, 2003

Married people's lifestyles and time management are so varied, that for an employer to base hiring decisions on it would often result in erroneous assumptions.

There are many married doctors and nurses who do 80-100 hours a week in the hospital, and there are single people who leave work at 5 pm and go clubbing till 5 am during the week.  Single people also have other time-consuming activities such as studying for a second degree.

The employer should ask the potential employee whether they are willing and able to handle the required long and irregular hours, not whether they are married. And they should be fired or given part time work if they are hired and can't handle the required hours, regardless of whether the reason is their married life or time spent partying at singles clubs.

Marital status should only be a question if the job is being a porn star or a legal prostitute in Nevada.

T. Norman
Monday, February 17, 2003

I'm with Bella on this one. I hate the way the law has been hijacked to benefit part of society.

I think it's a fair question. Whether the interviewers assumptions about the work stability/availability of a married or single person are valid or not is a topic for another discussion. He should still be allowed to ask the question.

For an example of how great democracy is check out http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/Prelude03.html
(hint, Hitler et cie were pretty much voted into power).

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-democracy. I just question the blind faith in the infallibility of the system that some people have. Ditto for laws. Some laws are bad.

Ask Nelson Mandela. He spent 27yrs in prison for breaking the law.

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

It's illegal to ask about marital status to prevent discrimination. The usual flagrant example being the interviewer who never hires married woment because 'they will only go off and get pregnant'.

If you want to know if someone will be willing to do the occasional weekend shift for Technical support, you should ask them 'Are you willing to do the occasional weekend shift for technical support'. That should give you a much better indication.

David Clayworth
Monday, February 17, 2003

I have had this discussion with colleagues, and I think it is perfectly OK to refuse to hire someone because of the risk of them getting pregnant.

Let the flames begin!

The reason employers would discriminate against young married women is that the law made it illegal for them to ask whether the woman was planning on having kids in the immediate future.

Maternity is very expensive for companies. We had a girl start with us, get pregnant within a year and go on leave. The law says you have to hold their job for several months. They are entitled to paid maternity leave, muchos time off, etc etc etc. She kept us hanging for a while, and then decided she was not coming back but getting a job closer to her mother's home.

All said, with training, loss of productivity, expense of temporary replacements etc, it is very easy for a woman having two kids in a five year period to cost almost twice what a single man will cost.

Now I am not suggesting the employers should not employ women of child bearing age. I am just saying it should be within their rights to ask what a woman's plans are, and then make a COMPETENT and INFORMED decision on whether to employ her on not.

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

"cost almost twice what a single man will cost."
Maybe I should rephrase this to ... "cost what an equivalent person not getting pregnant would cost."

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

David is exactly right. If there is a reason to ask a question, you can ask it -- but it must be related to the job they are doing, not to their lifestyle.

The question of whether or not a law such as this makes sense must be evaluated in the context of its history. The one in question is similar to asking questions about someone's religion, no matter what shaky reasons you have for doing it.  In other words, you need to understand how people were screwing with the lives of others in order to understand why the law makes sense.

Nelson Mandela's law-breaking was actually Civil Disobedience, which is a bit different in both intent and gravity. If you're willing to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, go ahead and violate the law.

Jeff Kotula
Monday, February 17, 2003

>They are entitled to paid
>maternity leave, muchos time off, etc etc etc

The law doesn't require maternity leave be paid.

Then again, that's Michigan.  It's possible that it's different in other states, I dunno.  The Family Medical Leave Act is Federal and doesn't require it ...

Matt H.
Monday, February 17, 2003

The question of being married or not is not illegal everywhere in the world. I know it is in the States, but not in all countries in Europe (I think it's allowed in France for instance)

Robert Chevallier
Monday, February 17, 2003

In the UK it is. I think it is on a sliding scale.. first couple of months full pay, and then smaller percentage up to a max of x month. Not sure of exact figures.

There was talk, and I think it is now an EU Directive, of allowing men paternity leave with similar benefits to the women's maternity leave.

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

interesting read ... http://www.exp.ie/advice/paternity.html

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003


I agree that being married can have a huge effect on productivity.

Married people have more stable home lives, so will be more consistent producers. They also won't go through quarterly emotional dramas as their latest boyfriend/girlfriend moves out/dumps them.

In addition, married people have a vested interest in keeping a job, as their monetary requirements are higher, and if they have kids then they really desire the stability. The average single person can walk out of a job and live at the YMCA if they want to.

Of course, that's all YMMV - there are married people who are always fighting, whose spouses want them home at 5:30, and since their spouse works they don't need the job at all.

So whether or not one is married should be completely immaterial. The question should be "how do you feel about long hours" or "what is your availability on weekends" or "what kind of travel are you looking for". Of course companies don't want to ask those questions because the reply will invariably involve more pay.

Philo

Philip Janus
Monday, February 17, 2003

I have had a lot of bad interviews.

First interview out of college (RPG programmer):  I meet with two programmers from the department.  These guys were totally cool.  At the end of our conversation they say, "Now you get meet with.. umm *cough her.".... and i'm like "What do you mean.." and before I could finish in walks a lady with her hair all tied up in a bun and she says, "Follow me."... I tried to get out a "Hi, nice to meet you", but it did'nt work.  We went to her office and then she pulls out my resume and grills me on what I did in the service.  I try to pull the conversation towards the job, but I could'nt do it.  It seemed like she was bent on not hiring me... As it turns out she hired the guy one of her friends recommended to her and the programmers had nothing to say about it.  (Hiring really is an unfair process)

Second interview out of college: I interviewed with a guy who took me downstairs in a "meeting" room and sat me at the table and said "I can pay you $28k to start and in three months I can raise that to $30k."  He then asked me "How confident are you in your programming skills?".  I replied that I am extremely confident and that I could code anything that was required of me.  He then told me, "Ok, you got the job.".... I'm like, "Don't I have to fill out an application or anything."  He's like, "Nah."... So I said I'd think about it and get back to him... yea right.

Third interview:  I show up at the business and everyone seems really nice.  The interviewer shows up and takes me to his office.  He has swords hanging everywhere.  First thing he asks me, "Do these swords intimidate you?"...  I tried not to laugh recalling my days in the service wielding M-16's and such.  For the next 2 hours we sit and talk about Citrix Metaframe and UNIX.  Again, I tried to pull the conversation more towards the 'Am I a fit for you and vice versa', but I failed again.  He seemed intimidated by my knowledge of C++, a skill which apparently he did'nt have.

Fourth interview:  A board of six people.  3 of which were wearing blue jeans and T-shirts or sweatshirts.  2 of which slept through the entire interview.  1 of which doodled endlessly.  The other 3 asked me some questions and told me about the position.  These three were wearing "half-way decent clothes" (i.e. not jeans and t-shirts).  I felt really out of place wearing a suit and tie.  (Btw: It was a government position, that I did'nt get)

Fifth interview:  Recruiting agency.  Some fine looking chick walks in the room and says (smacking her gum) "Like you know this stuff"... and I'm like "Like duh... yea".  She says, "Well cool then,  I'll set you up with an interview."  The interview was for programming an Interactice Intelligence System. (i.e. Telemarketing tool, dead end job)

I could go on and on... but I'll stop now.  Maybe it's just me and my "poor communication skills" or my bad luck.  Something has to turn up soon. /sigh

DAB
Monday, February 17, 2003

If questioning laws was antidemocratic, then it wouldn't be a democracy.  Plus, the frequency of breaking a law often is a legal test of its pointlessness.

That said, if they can ask about my private life (and marriage has religious elements that are definitely none of a company's business), I would like to know how much others in the company are paid, hiding of course exact identities.

Tj
Monday, February 17, 2003

While in college, I interviewed with a researcher at Scripp's Institute of Oceanography for a student programming position writing code for supercomputer simulations.

Most of the interview was listening to him rant about what he thought about Jews and Asians.

He offered me the position but I declined.

Diego Hernandez
Monday, February 17, 2003

>I have had this discussion with colleagues, and I think it
>is perfectly OK to refuse to hire someone because of the
>risk of them getting pregnant.

I've heard this one a lot, and it sort of makes sense, except that you hear this line even when it doesn't.

Example:
In this country, men between 21 and 50 are required to serve reserve duty in the army for about a month a year (sometimes more). This makes about 29 month that a man will miss from his Job in his life.
Our pregnancy leave is 3 month. Most women have less than 3 children, which means that they miss 18 month of work in their like.
And still people think that maternety leave is a reason not to hire women.
Somehow when a men is doing the hiring, reserve duty sounds "normal" and "ok", why maternety leave isn't.

Veronica
Monday, February 17, 2003


A year back had an interview for a full time position with an investment bank in New York City, the recruiter fixes up the date & time of the interview, etc.

2 days before the interview, get an email saying that they will not be interviewing people for that position.

A week later the entire division is laid off......

Can't call this an interview excatly, but if I had got the job, I would have got laid off before I even started:-)

Prakash S
Monday, February 17, 2003

BTW: This is one of the MBA Journals I keep following. Good article, but scroll to the end to read about the "worst interview"

http://businessweek.com/bschools/mbajournal/01hardgrave/8.htm

Prakash S
Monday, February 17, 2003

All the broad swipes on this thread about what being married means is reason enough to make it illegal to ask about it. I mean everyone commenting on a married person has a preconceived notion of what that means.

Anyway, you can always ask around the question - are you willing to work weekends if necessary? etc. People should ask questions that pertain to the job function, not about a person's life. Companies will go as far as they can unless you stop them, it's as simple as that. I can perform the job function and that's all you need to know.

I interviewed for a job last year at a law firm and the interviewer asked a few personal questions - are you married, what kind of car do you drive, etc. That wasn't cool.

Ian Stallings
Monday, February 17, 2003

Interesting coincidence. I also had an interview on Friday and was asked whether I have family or not. The question was asked in regards to possible relocation and I didn't even think that it was incorrect or illegal. In fact, I appreciated the interviewer asking the question.

raindog
Monday, February 17, 2003

As to the law, one thing: America is not a democracy. "Oh, not that again..." but I'm not talking about THAT part, I'm making an important distinction.

A democracy is mob rule. It just is - if you can get the majority of the voting public to vote a certain way, you get your way. Otherwise, you don't. Tyranny of the majority, if you will.

The thing is, America wasn't supposed to be that way. It was specifically designed, with great pains I might add, to be a Constitutionally Limited Republic, where elected representatives were chosen democratically to represent their constituents, BUT the scope and power of government was limited - there were some things they simply could not do. Thus the point of the bill of rights, and the clear wording of the constitution - there are some things that government is not supposed to be permitted to have any say over.

That was the idea, anyway. Not much knowledge required to see how poorly the reality of the present day American government fits its specs.


I state that the question comes down to this, very simply:

Is it a right of an individual to discriminate for any reason whatsoever - rational or irrationally, morally or immorally - in a private matter?

Being a long-haired humanistic left-handed atheist libertarian scientific competitive capitalist sure gives me many damn reasons to be aghast, discusted, and annoyed with discrimination based upon things which are simply counterproductive...but that doesn't mean I have the right to control the way other people behave because I do not like it.

In such a situation of discrimination, one must ask "Do I have the right to this particular thing?" Do you have a right to be employed by a particular person or entity? Is there any right for an individual to have reasons for hiring other than a profit motive?

So far I cannot find any rights-based moral support for any law against discrimination on any given form of basis.

I will also note that morality and legality are not the same thing, and to a certain degree they are not even reconcilable, and possibly they are monumentally different things with no relation to each other whatsoever.

That is to say that the law has no moral force; whether or not something is moral is entirely unrelated to the question of legality, for morality is not decided by majority vote.

As to excuses for breaking the law, there is no such thing. You don't need an excuse to break the law, nor is any excuse meaningful, for even if you had a really good reason to break the law you would still be breaking the law.


The fact remains, however, that even asking whether or not someone is married is illegal. It is rather strange as it isn't fundamentally difficult to find out or just figure it out (marriage licenses are public record, are they not?), but the law is the law regardless of the rationality for its creation.

It is not immoral to ask, and I would say not even immoral to discriminate based upon the answer or reaction (or for any reason whatsoever), but it is illegal and you must weight that fact against any value you think there would be in asking, obtaining, or acting upon such information.


As for maternity and paternity leave abuse, that certainly is immoral, yet it is not illegal. In short, you are lying to someone in bad faith to cause them to engage in an activity which is in fact against their interests, and it both negatively effects the employer and other people due to your actions, solely for your own benefit without consideration for the welfare of others.

Brian Hall
Monday, February 17, 2003

I think the guy who interviewed me wanted a sweatshop worker to work about 27 hours a day and pay him permission to work .... or something.

I wasn't fussed about him asking about my marital status, I just regarded it as unprofessional because he wasn't aware of its legal status.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Monday, February 17, 2003

Interview in Anaheim. The interviewers were the VP of the company and a manager with Rumanian origin. How do I know this? In the first five minutes he started to talk about politics, blaming my old country for all trouble Rumania had.

My biggest surprise was the VP did not do anything to stop this unbalanced "discussion".

Maybe I am the first software engineer whose employment was denied by "world politics" :-)

f. n.
Monday, February 17, 2003

Employers are legally allowed to ask about marital status and children ... *after* they have given you a job.

There is very good reason to disallow asking about personal information before offering a job.  You don't have a right to any given job, but employers don't have a right to use the imbalance of power inherent in a job interview situation to invade your privacy.

If employers were free to ask anything they wanted in an interview, many would go much further than just asking about marriage and children. And in most cases, they would have extracted that information from you without giving you a job or anything else in exchange. Even though employers may not like it, laws that prohibit the asking of irrelevant personal questions are actually good not only for the employees, but also for the employers who will stand a better chance of finding the right person if they aren't given access to personal information which has no predictive value in the ability to do a job.

Also remember that corporations are artificial entities that have no natural right to even exist, but exist only because of certain protections and rights given to them by the government.  Without those rights and protections, corporations would be nothing more than a loose collection of individuals who could be held personally responsible for the debts and losses of the business. Those rights and protections are conditional on them following the rules and restrictions of corporate and labor laws, including what they can ask in an interview and on what basis they can discriminate.

However, individuals and small businesses which are not incorporated, have more leeway regarding who they can hire and fire and have fewer obligations when it comes to benefits (I believe they do not have to grant any maternity leave, for example).  Don't sign the incorporation papers if you don't plan to follow the rules.

T. Norman
Monday, February 17, 2003

Saying that the US is not a democracy, but a Republic is like saying "Its not a car, its a Toyota".

Republics are pretty much allways democracies.

Eric DeBois
Monday, February 17, 2003

I have had this discussion with colleagues, and I think it is perfectly OK to refuse to hire someone because of the risk of them getting pregnant.

This is why, exactly why, Im not in a hiring position.

;-)

Patrik
Monday, February 17, 2003


tapiwa wrote:

>I have had this discussion with colleagues, and I think it
>is perfectly OK to refuse to hire someone because of the >risk of them getting [them] pregnant.

This is why, exactly why, Im not in a hiring position.

;-)

PS. Yeah :-)

Patrik
Monday, February 17, 2003

Asking "Do you plan on getting pregnant?" is pretty damn relevant when evaluating a prospective hire, if you ask me.  Especially if it's you own money.

One day, perhaps you will have started your own little company.  Say one day, you even finally have the resources to hire a second person, who will be paid directly from your pocket.  If this company bombs, you may lose your house, and your kids won't be going to college.


Let's see then what you think about hiring a woman who is hiding the fact that she will soon have kids.  How will you feel about the law as you close down your little company b/c the one person you hired is now home, while getting paid, all the while blindsiding you with the news a few months after you hired her? 

Bella
Monday, February 17, 2003

The trouble with this sort of generalised risk-assesment for hiring is that you can go just about anywhere with it:

- Women are more likely to get pregnant. Let's not hire them.
- African-Americans (Australian Aborigines etc. etc.) are more likely to be arrested and sent to jail. Let's not hire them either.
- Jews are more prone to certain debilitating genetic ailments...
- Old people are more likely to die on the job
- People with kids won't want to work weekends
.
.
.

Andrew Reid
Monday, February 17, 2003

Andrew --

I hope you see how the first and the last items you list are different from the middle three.

Women choose to get pregnant.  Yes,  they may have an "accident".  But in that case they're certainly free to choose to have an abortion. 

People with kids may choose to spend more time with their kids and less time working. 

I'm all for laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of things that a person has no control over.  But discrimination based on choices a person makes, that I'm not so sure I'm against.  Even if a person is against it, they should recognize that there are different kinds of discrimination.  A person can be in favor of prohibiting some sorts and not others.

Herbert Sitz
Monday, February 17, 2003

T.Norman wrote:
--
However, individuals and small businesses which are not incorporated, have more leeway regarding who they can hire and fire and have fewer obligations when it comes to benefits (I believe they do not have to grant any maternity leave, for example).  Don't sign the incorporation papers if you don't plan to follow the rules.
--

In the U.S. your form of business (corporation, sole proprietorship) is generally irrelevant with most of these laws -- but you're right that smaller businesses are often let off the hook, for just the reasons that Bella states above. The impact on them is too large.

Of course some states (Hawaii, Montana, e.g.) don't seem to care -- they apply maternity leave to companies of any size, for example.

Malcolm
Monday, February 17, 2003

"Women choose to get pregnant. Yes,  they may have an "accident".  " 

Actually, I'm pretty sure that "men" usually have something to do with such "accidents" <g>.

"But in that case they're certainly free to choose to have an abortion. "

Or (to take a case that is less likely to start a flame war) free to choose to come back to work shortly after giving birth.

Full name
Monday, February 17, 2003

"But discrimination based on choices a person makes, that I'm not so sure I'm against."

So Herbert, it's okay not to hire Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus etc because they may choose to celebrate religious holidays (when they should be at work - dammit?).

How about people who have tattoos (a personal choice that is difficult to undo...) - because people with tattoos may be more likely to indulge in "risky" behaviour?

How about people who are overweight due to poor eating habits?

Sheesh
Monday, February 17, 2003

Herbert,

Are you saying it's ok to discriminate against someone because of what they _might_ do? Don't hire a woman because she _might_ get pregnant?

Andrew Reid
Monday, February 17, 2003

Nope.  I'm saying that if there are things a prospective employee might choose to do in the future that would affect their job performance, then maybe an interviewer should be able to ask the questions.

Do you plan on having children in the near future?

Will you be willing to work weekends, or do you expect your family life would intrude on that?

I'm not saying that I would necessarily allow this, even if I were able to decree what law should apply.  I'm just saying that when we're talking about decisions people are free to make or not to make, maybe employers should be able to inquire about these things.  It's not quite the same thing as discriminating on the base of race, religion, sex, etc.

Herbert Sitz
Monday, February 17, 2003

Remember one thing here.  Companies don't exist in a vacumn, but in a competitive environment.  Thus one role of government is to decide the rules of the playing field.  If all companies are required to hire women of child-bearing age, and bear the possible expenses, it shouldn't matter to any individual company because all their possible competitors (within the country, of course) are required to follow the same rules.

I remember reading somewhere that you cannot contractually require a woman to not become pregnant.  Pregnancy is considered an "Act of God" under the law.  It is unenforcable in a pre-nuptual agreement, much less a job contract.  Expecting a woman to have an abortion to keep a job is pretty horrible.  And for all the complaints about game-playing with maternity leave, the system doesn't allow much else.  I had a friend who decided to give plenty of notice that she wasn't going to come back after the baby was born.  She trained her replacement, and then had a stillborn child.  No job, and having to explain the situation in job interviews.  I think I'm going to hang onto the possiblity of coming back.

Contrary Mary
Monday, February 17, 2003

Talk about a de-railed thread.

Thread De-Railer
Monday, February 17, 2003

Sounds to me like he gave you an honest idea of what the company is like. Personally I would prefer that to hearing that everything in the garden was roses and only after signing the contract being told that there had been recent redundancies.


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Andrew, you forgot that people are much more likely to get sick than robots, so don't hire them. (Suits me, more skiing time :-)


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

"Yes,  they may have an "accident".  But in that case they're certainly free to choose to have an abortion.  ... discrimination based on choices a person makes, that I'm not so sure I'm against."

So Herb Sitz,

Is being a sexist butthead a choice for you or  is it something that you have no control over?

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I've seriously considered adding to the bullet points at the top of my CV (The ones with my skillset in them for the people who can't read paragraphs) something along the lines of "Lives with boyfriend.  No chance whatsoever of becoming pregnant due to birth defects" because I haven't half got fed up of the stupid conversations where people try to work out if I'm planning to have kids without actually asking the damn question.

"So are you... married?"

"No."

"Any plans?"

"No."

"So there's no issue with extended working hours then?"

"Look, I kill houseplants. Sometimes in only weeks. Even if by some miracle I ever get pregnant it'd be lucky to make it through its first nappy change..."


Personally, I don't care, I've known most of my life, I've had time to get used to this and yes, I do still regret it from time to time, but the fact that I get judged against because I might get pregnant when there's no way on earth I could is Bloody Annoying.

I do fecking wish interviewers would just ask the damn questions they want answering instead of trying to guess the answers I might give.

Katie Lucas
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

As far as the pregnancy issue is concerned, there recently has been a court decision in Germany, that women are allowed to lie outright if they are asked whether they are currently pregnant (even in cases where the pregnancy might influence their ability to do the job properly), since the question itself is illegal. I do not know if the question for the marital status is illegal in Germany, but I do not think so, since you have to give it to the employer for tax and social security calculations anyway.

My worst job interview experience ever has been my first one, by the way. They made me come in for an interview three times, because the first two times the interviewer had forgotten about the appointment, did not find the time to talk to me and send me back home with a new appointment. The third time I was really fed up with it and was finally interviewed by another employee who hired me on the spot. (I took the job despite the bad interviewing policy, since I had dropped out of university and was badly in need for a job at the time, but I left the company after one and a half years).

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

So many have argued that asking whether someone is married, or planning to get pregnant, or whatever, because it might be relevant to the employer for whatever reason.

Only one or two were bright enough to notice that if the employer has reason to find it relevant, he can explain the reason and ask if that would be a problem, without trying to guess how that might be a problem.

It might not just be illegal to protect employees from employers, but also to protect employers from their own stupidity.

So what if you asked someone whether he has kids or not. Would that be the only reason not to be willing to work weekends? Do you think you can guess all the other reasons? Or would you simply ask someone whether they are willing to work weekends and trust their judgement when they say yes?

Practical Geezer
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Bella wrote:
"Let's see then what you think about hiring a woman who is hiding the fact that she will soon have kids.  How will you feel about the law as you close down your little company b/c the one person you hired is now home, while getting paid, all the while blindsiding you with the news a few months after you hired her? "

In my country the pre-natal and post-natal costs are assumed by the State. Alas, we don't have any laws that forbid being asked intrusive questions in job interviews...

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

> - Jews are more prone to certain debilitating genetic ailments...

Andrew, I know several Jewish people w/ ailments, but never realized it was so common that it actually a stereotype!  Can you expound on this a little more?  This would be very helpful for me.  Thank you.

Bella
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Katie, while it's illegal for companies to ask about your marital/pregnancy status (in some countries) it's not illegal for you to answer them before they are asked.

David Clayworth
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Bella, check out http://www.mazornet.com/genetics/index.asp for an overview of diseases with a high incidence among Jews.

Malcolm
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

> I haven't half got fed up of the stupid conversations where people try to work out if I'm planning to have kids without actually asking the damn question.

Well, don't blame the interviewer, his hands are tied.  Write your local lawmaker.  It's against the law to ask open, honest questions in an interview. 

> So Herbert, it's okay not to hire Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus etc because they may choose to celebrate religious holidays (when they should be at work - dammit?).

If religion affects someone's work hours, and requires a modified work schedule, then this should be part of the evaluation?  Just as if someone is an alcoholic.  If you hired someone, and then in his first week, he disclosed that he need to leave at noon every Friday to play golf,  get drunk, or pray, how would that be viewed?  If religion is a personal choice that affects one's workhours, then it should be very clearly stated in the interview, b/c it is relevant in making a hiring decision.

> How about people who have tattoos (a personal choice that is difficult to undo...) - because people with tattoos may be more likely to indulge in "risky" behaviour?

Well, can a tatoo affects one's work potential?  In certain (if not many) jobs, appearance is part of the entire package.  Would you ever start a 5 star restaurant and hire tatooed bikers are waiters?  No.  If tatoos will be looked unfavorably upon by prospective clients, and harm the business, than one should be able to choose to hire someone who does not have tatoos. 

> How about people who are overweight due to poor eating habits?

Evaluating a prospective hire IS subjective and personal.  If you think a person exibits traits that show he may be a poor worker, then that is your choice.  That's what an interview is for.  To find a new hire who posesses traits YOU think will make him successful at your firm. 

When you start your own company, and are paying salaries with a home equity line of credit, then let's see how liberal you are.

Bella
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Bella wrote:

"Well, don't blame the interviewer, his hands are tied. Write your local lawmaker. It's against the law to ask open, honest questions in an interview."

Of course they are not.
If you need people to work in weekends, noone prohibits you to ask if they are willing to. You don't need to know why or why not.

There are plenty of ways for you to make clear what your needs and desires are, without having to guess about how someone might fail them.

By the way, I happen to notice that your arguments seem to imply that people are likely to lie to you about their plans even when they know they might affect you?
How did you become so mistrustful?

Practical Geezer
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Just wondering how many people on this board would feel comfortable working for or with Bella.

survey says
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I wouldn't mind hiring Bella to work in my company.(when I start one:-))

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"If religion is a personal choice that affects one's workhours, then it should be very clearly stated in the interview, b/c it is relevant in making a hiring decision."

This is an interesting question, is religion a personal choice for most religious people? Or does it run 'deeper' than that? For a lot of people, their religion is the single most important thing about their lives and their identity.

Going back to the 'having children' question - for a lot of people, again, it's not purely a personal decision, look what happens if a catholic woman is doesn't get pregnant on cue.

I know a lot of this doesn't follow the nice simple logic of the marketplace, but there are an awful lot of religious people out there and you're going to miss out on a lot of talent if you ignore them.

Neil E
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

By the way, that does not mean you have to accept everything just because it might be associated with someones religion, or race for that matter.

Right now in my country debate is going on about whether people should be allowed to cover their face in school or at work.

Although you might consider this a religious necessity, which some doubt, it seems to conflict with a key aspect of human social behaviour, the ability to communicate openly and to assess one and others intention by facial expressions.
So at the moment all schools in the nation's capital have begun rejecting anyone who covers their face.
Some are fighting this legally on the grounds of equal opportunities.

The jury isn't out yet (or in our case the jugde).

Practical Geezer
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"When you start your own company, and are paying salaries with a home equity line of credit, then let's see how liberal you are."

Since I have been running my own company since 1998 - I think that makes me qualified enough to respond.

I've never had to pay salaries with a home equity line of credit (and never will), because I am very uncomfortable with debt of any kind.  This is a direct result of a messy bankruptcy suffered by my father's first company (yes, entreprenurial background) causing my family to lose our house and to be kicked out of the country. 

On the flip side though, I did pay for salaries initially out of my savings, despite not being willing to get myself into a situation where I could lose my house (the height of stupidity in my opinion).

Despite risking my savings on employees - I make a big effort not to discriminate based on irrelevancies when hiring.  Actually, if when meeting new people I dislike them for some reason, I make a conscious effort at all times to determine why, and if there is an irrational or irrelevant reason - I figure out a way to get over it.  Life is too short to write off most of the human race.

Our employees to date have been from a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, colours and genders - not deliberately, it just happened that way.  Yes, our oldest employee has health problems that make him more likely to miss work.  So what?  In general (even taking into consideration his health), he is a great employee.  IE gets his work done, provides a positive influence on general morale, is enthusiastic about what he is asked to do even when it is boring, isn't selfish or always watching out for what's best for him (in isolation of other employees and the company - which is me...).

And, while I do discriminate against people who smoke when hiring (no point in hiring someone if it means that I won't be able to work at all as a result), I have never understood discrimination of other sorts (colour, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion etc etc).  If you avoid certain people because they are "different", you lose so much, and you limit yourself to such a narrow world view. 

Anyway.  I think the opinions expressed in some of these threads about discrimination are truly bizarre.

Sheesh
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"(hint, Hitler et cie were pretty much voted into power)."

Not "pretty much" voted into power, but *was* voted into power. Granted, Weimar's voting system wasn't like the one we have here in the US, but he was legally voted in as Chancellor of Germany in 1933.

(Since we got off topic earlier, I felt the need to get it back off topic again.)

Go Linux Go!
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Herbert Stitz:

<quote>
I'm all for laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of things that a person has no control over.  But discrimination based on choices a person makes, that I'm not so sure I'm against.
</quote>

What about stupid people? Do stupid people really CHOOSE to be stupid? Do you think they really want to be cosmis dunces?

So, should it be illegal to discriminate on the basis of intelligence, which is by and large not within the scope of a persons own control?

Brian Hall
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

> And, while I do discriminate against people who smoke when hiring (no point in hiring someone if it means that I won't be able to work at all as a result), I have never understood discrimination of other sorts (colour, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion etc etc).  If you avoid certain people because they are "different", you lose so much, and you limit yourself to such a narrow world view. 


Pure hypocrisy, and the best part is, he doesn't even see it.  This has to be the best post I've seen all year. 

Bella
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Come on, Bella, get of your high horse!

What is the hypocrisy you complain about, and why do you think this person does not see it, if there is any?
Don't you think you owe any one the courtesy of at least explaining what you mean and giving them a chance to respond?
Or do you prefer to make wild accusations and let people guess about what it is you actually accuse them of?

Do you think he/she is a hypocrite because he/she can't breathe smoke? Or because he/she can't understand discimination? Or what?

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

What is there to explain?  He finds it acceptable to discriminate against people who may smoke (during their lunchhour, oir at home, etc)  b/c that suits HIS preference.  Yet, he has an issue with anyone ELSE discriminating based on their preferences. 

Bella
Thursday, February 20, 2003

What'sthere to explain?
You quote a paragraph containing several statements and you assume everyone else just reads your mind and knows immediately which of the statements you find hypocritical?

But besides that, have you bothered to ask what he meant? Or did you just jump to the most obvious conclusion to you? Not considering things might not be exactly as you infer?

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Well, I don't have a worse overall interviewer, but I did have one worst experience after getting an offer.

I landed a full-time position through a recruiter.  When it came down to salary negotiation, the principal said, "Well, your salary will be $X, but the offer letter will actually only say $ 2/3 X."  When I asked why, he replied that recruiters were too damned expensive (their fees in the US are usually based on a percentage of a successful candidate's starting salary).

I fled.  If a person is willing to do that to a recruiter, what are they willing to do to their other business partners or employees, I wondered.

Well, it turned out I did the right thing.  A year later, the company was out of business.  Seems the other principal (not the one that interviewed me) got into a fistfight with a customer, at the customer's site.  He beat the customer pretty badly, and spent a few days in jail.  Their client pool pretty much dried up after that.

Tim Lesher
Thursday, February 27, 2003

He beat a customer? never heard of that in all my years in IT....where was this place anyway?

Samuel
Friday, February 28, 2003

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