Why You Must Document Your Interviews

No matter how casual or formal your interview style, you must document your discussions with any potential candidate - no matter what. Why? To protect yourself from discrimination lawsuits. If done correctly, interview documentation is evidence of legitimate hiring practices. If not done correctly, your notes could be evidence of illegal hiring practices.

Following are some helpful guidelines for documenting interviews. Bear in mind that you should always consult a lawyer for complete legal advice:

  1. Always keep notes of applicants’ responses to questions. This is best done on the standard interview question form created prior to the interview.
  2. Do not document any information an applicant volunteers within the realm of a protected classification. In other words, if an applicant volunteers that she is 56 years old, do not write that down.
  3. Do not document personal traits such as "blonde hair," "blue eyes," "yellow dress," even if it is used to jog your memory at a later date. Those comments may be considered discriminatory later on even though that was not your intention.
  4. Do not document your evaluation of the applicant in terms of any protected classification. For example: "Too old for the job." "Would not fit in." "Wouldn’t be able to handle the physical work." "Accent too strong." These attributes smack of discrimination and should not be considered as part of your hiring decision.
  5. Do document the business reason why each applicant is not qualified (or is qualified) for the job. Examples include: "Has no supervision experience." "Not as much accounting experience as the others." "Did not have the computer experience that the others did."
  6. Do document the business reason why the applicant was hired over all others: "Had all minimum requirements plus was bi-lingual." "Had experience that most closely related to our organization." "Was well qualified and was an excellent communicator."
Based upon an article by:

Van A. Thaxton, MS, is a human resources consultant in San Diego. She has over 16 years experience as a human resources consultant, helping clients prepare employee handbooks, performance appraisal programs, affirmative action plans, salary surveys, and independent contractor agreements. Ms. Thaxton is cofounder of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Emerging Business Task Force. She is a co-author of Practitioners Publishing Company’s Guide to Personnel Management and has conducted numerous seminars and published many articles regarding successful employment practices.


CFS is not rendering legal advice. If you have questions of a legal nature, you should consult with a lawyer.