What kind of notes should I take during the interview?

Careful here—the notes that you write on employment applications, resumes, or evaluation forms become part of a candidate's written record and are ''discoverable'' documents if subpoenaed. Making personal notes to yourself on yellow stickers count just as much—if not more—than other comments jotted down about an individual's candidacy. (So don't use yellow notes in the hopes of removing them at a later date!)

That's why many companies forbid hiring managers from making any notes whatsoever about candidates. Their logic is that if nothing is written down, the documentation can't later be used against the company to substantiate a claim of discrimination. Unfortunately for the rest of us, being forbidden to write notes on particular candidates makes the selection process that much harder. After all, how can you keep people apart in your mind when you don't have notes to remind yourself of their strengths, weaknesses, and personality?

Companies that forbid managers to take any notes about candidates are probably overreacting. After all, discrimination lawsuits based on a company's right not to hire someone after an interview are fairly rare. Still, they occur often enough that an ounce of training prevention indeed is worth a pound of ant lawsuit cure.

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The obvious problems with these comments lie in their subjective nature. They imply that individuals should be precluded from

You may write the following comments about a candidate without landing yourself in hot water should the documentation ever be subpoenaed and used against you:

Well-spoken, warm, excellent progression through the ranks at her current company, but had difficulty expressing why she wants to leave her current job. Also didn't know her company's annual revenues. Definitely someone we should explore further.

Stiff, inflexible style, appeared to be preoccupied with getting out of my office for another appointment. Cold and aloof, almost rude. I'd pass.

Nice person, but credentials are not impressive: all small companies with little name-brand recognition, poor reasons for leaving prior positions, and she can't remember old dates of employment or names of prior supervisors. I'd pass.

Inappropriately dressed for interview. Used the term ''orientated'' rather than ''oriented'' several times and kept saying ''I know'' as a nervous pause. Wrote ''see resume'' on her application. I wouldn't recommend her for our department.

Very difficult to understand because he mumbled—poor eye contact and posture. Seemed to have very little self-confidence or self-esteem. Not a good fit for our front-desk position. He'd have difficulties dealing with the overly demanding personalities.

What kinds of written comments should you avoid? Here are a few that would probably expose your company to unnecessary legal headaches:

Looks like he'd have difficulty lifting thirty pounds over his head.

Wrong image—we need a much leaner, hipper look for dealing with visiting clients and vendors and projecting the company's image effectively.

Doesn't think young enough—lacks zest and appeal. Pass.

Accent too heavy. It would be difficult to understand her on a daily basis.

Acne and weight problems. Don't refer.

employment because of the perceptions of the beholder, rather than because of the individual's lack of talent, abilities, or related experience. Avoid documenting subjective perceptions of people that are not tied to their skills, knowledge, or abilities or to your company's specific business needs.

 
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