Find your hire power
One successful date doesn't necessarily lead to a good marriage, and the same holds true for hiring good employees. You can't rush it. While a good hire can mean a more productive workplace, one bad judgement call can sour the whole mix. The time you save by making a hasty decision will be more than wasted on dealing with complaints, low productivity, and the possibility of having to fire the person and start your search over again. So do it right the first time. We'll take you from pre-search to post-interviews to get you what you're looking for.
Before you begin
Depending on what your business is and how many employees you're seeking, the laws regulating hiring practices can be numerous and complex. Certain businesses may be required to hire a certain percentage of minorities, others may have to consult unions, and so on. If you have questions regarding your business' legal obligations, contact your state labor department.
All employers, however, must be aware of what constitutes a discriminatory act. Generally speaking, you can't pose any qualifications that would exclude a person from a job unless the qualifications are essential to doing the job (otherwise known as BFOQs--bona fide occupational qualifications). Qualifications that usually don't fall under BFOQs are age, race, religion, sex, marital status, dependents (present or planned), physical attributes, citizenship (as long as they have a work visa), disabilities, felony records, military experience, and so on. It's up to you to decide what, if any, BFOQs your business has. If you're at all unsure whether or not the law is on your side, consult a lawyer.
At no point in your hiring process can you ask about non-BFOQs. Even if a candidate offers up information that falls under that category, it's best not to take it into consideration.