Given the rapid growth in the cannabis industry, it is increasingly important we ensure that our HR practices are in line with more established industries. This includes the recruiting and hiring of employees, the most critical part of the process being the interview. Here are a few things to keep in mind when interviewing potential candidates for your cannabis business:
1. Set the tone and boundaries of the interview from the beginning
What makes interviewing candidates in this industry more difficult than others, is that most candidates have a story to tell about their relationship with cannabis. Why this could end up being difficult for employers is that the information candidates may want to volunteer could potentially put employers at risk with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). The EEOC is a division of the US government that enforces violations of discrimination. They ensure that job applicants and employees are not being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Be mindful of the kinds of questions you ask so you don’t expose your company to accusations of unlawful discrimination. For example, if an individual begins to address a health condition as a reason for their interest in the cannabis industry, this could put you in a challenging position. If for some reason you are notified of this information by a candidate, divert the topic immediately and move on to another topic. You will also want to keep this information to yourself so other interviewers are not potentially biased to make a hiring decision based on this information. Hiring decisions should be based entirely on a person’s ability to perform the functions of the job and their culture fit for the organization. Ask questions that allow them to shine, while still getting to the heart of the matter regarding their experience, skills and temperament to assess whether or not they would be a good match for your organization.
2. Train your interviewers
Interviewing is not something that comes naturally to everyone. In order to make sure you are interviewing potential candidates appropriately, train your interviewers! If your less than confident that you’re observing best practices, an experienced HR or Staffing professional should be able to bring you and your fellow hiring managers up-to-speed.
3. Be careful when requiring ‘tests’
Many of you might want to administer ‘tests’ to employees as a way to determine their qualifications. While this may seem like an easy way to weed through the good and bad candidates, you must be cautious using this approach. Make sure your tests are relevant to the job in question and that results are interpreted by a third party to shield your company from charges of discrimination. Tests should also be administered to all candidates who make it to the same point in the process. For example: If you are giving one candidate a test to determine their knowledge of nutrient application at the point they’ve just finished the on-site interview, then all candidates who complete an on-site interview should be given that same test. Think consistency!
4. Provide a great candidate experience
The cannabis industry is still a very small community even today. If you don’t provide a positive, professional candidate experience during the interview process, not only might you miss out on that candidate but you may miss out on other great candidates due to negative word of mouth, web or social media. If you are less experienced in this area, I suggest engaging the advice of a seasoned HR or staffing professional to help ensure a consistently positive employer brand.
*Please note that while an HR Professional, Kara Bradford is not an attorney. Any recommendations in this article are not to be construed as legal advice. For legal advise, you should consult a qualified attorney.