2.5 Interviewing Policies and Procedures

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2.5.1 Guidelines for Interviewing

The interview is a valuable tool for the supervisor in assessing the applicant's suitability for the position. It is also the applicant's principal opportunity to gain knowledge concerning the duties and responsibilities of the position and the immediate and extended working environment.

The supervisor or other person conducting the interview should prepare for it by studying the application form or resume and by reviewing the qualification requirements established for the job. In addition, the interviewer should list specifics to be explored, such as apparent gaps in the applicant's work record, ambiguous or contradictory entries on the application, etc.

The interviewer should be aware that the applicant may be inexperienced in the job interviewing process and may need to be put at ease during the interview, so that he or she can participate fully.

Interviewers should also be aware that questions that would ordinarily be lawful may, in some circumstances, be held to be evidence of unlawful discrimination; for example, if information is requested which is not job related and has a disproportionately burdensome effect on women and minority group members.

Allowable questions are any which pertain to the background of the candidate both in education and experience essential to actual performance of the job. These include:

  • Any incomplete information on the resume or application for further review.
  • Why applicant left former job and what kind of references he or she would receive from former employer.
  • What applicant's prior job duties consisted of and what he or she liked or disliked about prior jobs.
  • In what kind of job duties, hours, days, etc. applicant is interested.
  • Allow applicant to mention and discuss what he or she feels is relevant to the job for which he or she is applying.
  • Citizenship or working visa but not country of origin.

Listed below are some specific guidelines in this matter, as recommended by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The following may also provide guidance for supervisors in the reference checking process (see also 2.5.2 below):

Subject What May Be Asked What May NOT Be Asked
Age Are you over 18 (or 21 for certain jobs)? How old are you?

What is the date of your birth?

Gender n/a A preemployment inquiry as to gender on an application form.
Experience Inquiry into work experience. Inquiry into countries applicant has visited. n/a
National Origin n/a Inquiry into applicant's lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, parentage, or nationality; nationality of parents or spouse; applicant's native language
Religion n/a Inquiry into an applicant's religious denomination, affiliation, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed. Avoid any questions regarding organizations and/or affiliations that would identify religion.
Marital Status n/a Are you married?

Where does your spouse work?

What are the ages of your children, if any?

What was your maiden name?

Disability Specific questions related to job duties (e.g. Do you have a driver's license? Can you lift fifty pounds?) Do you have a disability?

Have you ever been treated for the following diseases? (listing diseases.)

Has any member of your family ever had any of the following diseases?

Name Have you ever worked for MIT under a different name?

Is any additional information relative to change of name, use of an assumed name, or nickname necessary to enable a check on your work record? If yes, explain.

Original name of an applicant whose name has been changed by court order or otherwise. Maiden name of a married woman.

Has applicant ever worked under another name, state name, or address?

Address or Duration of Address Applicant's place of residence Do you rent or own your home?

How long at each particular address?

Birthplace n/a Birthplace of applicant. Birthplace of applicant's parents, spouse, or other close relatives.
Photograph n/a Requirement that an applicant affix a photograph to the employment application at any time before hiring.
Education Inquiry into the academic, vocational, or professional education of an applicant and the public and private schools he or she has attended. n/a
Citizenship Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? Inquiry as to country of citizenship.

Whether an applicant is a naturalized or native-born citizen; the date when the applicant acquired citizenship.

Requirement that applicant produce naturalization papers or first papers.

Whether parents or spouse are naturalized or native-born citizens of the United States.

The date when such parents or spouse acquired citizenship.

Language What languages do you read fluently? Write fluently? Speak fluently? Inquiry into how applicant acquired ability to read, write, or speak a foreign language.
Height, Weight, Strength Questions regarding height, weight, or strength may be asked only if the employer can prove these requirements are necessary to do the job. n/a
Relatives Names of applicant's relatives already employed by MIT. Names, addresses, ages, number, or other information concerning applicant's children or other relatives not employed by MIT.
Notice in Case of Emergency Name and address of person to be notified in case of an accident or emergency. n/a
Military Have you ever been a member of the armed services of the United States or in a state militia? If so, did your military experience have any relationship to the position for which you have applied? Inquiry into an applicant's general military experience or type of discharge.
Organizations Are you a member of any professional societies or organizations, etc.? (Exclude organizations, the name or character of which indicates the race, creed, color, or national origin of its members.) Inquiry into applicant's membership in nonprofessional organizations (e.g. clubs, lodges, etc.)
References Names of appropriate employment references. n/a

In some circumstances, a criminal record check may be done for finalists. Contact your Human Resources questions for guidance on criminal records checks, and for any other questions relating to the interviewing process.

2.5.2 Checking References

Employment references should be checked for all applicants prior to an offer of employment. These references will be evaluated with the hiring supervisor in relation to the applicant's education, experience, abilities, and the requirements of the job. Educational and personal references are not routinely evaluated; however, a supervisor may request that this information be checked if circumstances warrant it.

It is normally the responsibility of the interviewing recruiter or the departmental supervisor to obtain references. Supervisors who take responsibility for obtaining references may consult with the appropriate Human Resources Officer.

2.5.3 Notification of Interviewed Applicants

In order to assure a positive relationship with the Institute's applicant community, each person who is interviewed by a departmental supervisor should be notified of the result of the selection process. Such notification can take the form of a telephone call, email or a personal letter, depending upon individual circumstances and styles.

Transfer applicants for all categories of employment, as well as outside applicants for Support and Service staff positions are notified of the results of their interviews by the recruiter and/or the department interviewer.