Lack of Consistency in Applicant Interview Criteria May Support a Discrimination Claim


Employers should be careful to ensure that their interview processes, including the interview criteria, are consistent, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently emphasized.

In Taite v. Bridgewater State University, an applicant sued the University for race discrimination and, in support of her claim, offered evidence that different interview criteria were applied to her than to the successful White applicant. Although evaluators were given the same evaluation form to apply to the candidates, it appeared that the candidates were given different instructions on what to address in their interviews/presentations, and that the Black applicant was scored negatively because she did not address topics that she had been instructed not to address.

This case reminds employers to take care that all aspects of the application process are consistently and fairly applied to all applicants. This includes not only the formal written documents, but also the communications to the applicants regarding the interviews or other aspects of the recruiting process.