Michael P. Maslanka

  • Michael P. Maslanka
    Michael P. Maslanka is managing partner of the Dallas office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith. His e-mail address is mmaslanka@constangy.com. He is board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He writes the “Work Matters” column for Texas Lawyer’s In-House Texas publication and records labor and employment podcasts that can be found at www.texaslawyer.com.

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October 17, 2012

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Interesting approach, but what do you do when these questions push you right over the line into areas that violate federal law.

For example, I buried three children in a five year period. The emotional load from that created substantial disability, which is common to extreme grief.

During that period I woke up one morning to a story in the news that I was running for a position in Austin against a well established incumbant. Except, of course, no one had told me I was running.

Making the decision of whether to get elected or keep my family together was a core experience for me to deal with. I chose my family.

But, this gets into issues of religion, disability, political party memembership, etc. I would feel that, perhaps, someone wanting to get into those issues was a little intrusive vis a vis my ability to do a job and might reflect a number of things were being demanded for the employment process that are privileged under employment law.

My experience can not unique, albeit more extreme than most.

I can talk about the experiences, but it seems as if it reaches into areas that are perhaps not appropriate for a job interview.

Reading snippits like this makes me glad I am not interviewing for work right now.

I'm surprised to see this posted on an employment law column. Asking job candidates to "tell their life story" and "how they grew up" could lead to all kinds of legal trouble. When we think of how we grew up, we think of our national origins and traditions, religious upbringing. When we think of the events that shaped us, we might think of medical conditions or illnesses. Discussing these in an interview could give the appearance of discrimination based upon protected classes, disability, etc. Bad idea. I agree with having candidates share scenarios and discuss areas in which they've failed/need to improve, but sticking with work-related topics is the best way to go.

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