UNUSUAL JOB INTERVIEWS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


The New Normal?  

There appears a growing trend of employers — nationwide and abroad – implementing unorthodox methods to assess job candidates such as escape rooms, capture the flag, professional “speed dating” sessions, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, laser tag and cooperative board games.

An escape room involves a small group of people locked in a room and tasked to unravel clues, puzzles and riddles to “escape” within a given time frame.  The University of Nebraska Medical Center already uses escape rooms to assist students in applying their skills to health care emergencies by solving health-related puzzles simulating different patient health scenarios.

Capture the flag is an outdoor game of tag between two teams. The first team to capture the other’s flag from their base area and bring it back to their own base wins. If a player gets tagged by an opponent while trying to capture the flag, he or she typically remains in a cordoned-off “jail” until released back into the game.

Professional speed dating involves candidates talking with a line of management and lower-level employees one after the other, each “interview” for a specified, short amount of time. Hiring managers then determine who to bring back for the next round.

Although such approaches might well bypass the normal stodginess of an interview and potentially help to evaluate a candidate’s team-building, leadership and communication skills, they can also run afoul of the law.

In California, employers must not directly or indirectly inquire about an applicant’s characteristic protected from federal and state employment discrimination laws including race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status.

Requiring candidates to participate in certain physical activity unrelated to the position’s essential functions could indirectly discriminate against the candidate based on medical condition or age.

Professional speed “dating” could lead to inappropriate questions or flirtatious behavior. It’s not a great idea for an employer to rush through an interview in any event.

Job interviews are of course an important step in the hiring process. By using tools such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s Fact Sheet, employers should be able to apply their creative energies to interviewing without inadvertently discriminating.

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For further information, please contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

May 9, 2019