Q. Is it illegal - or just bad business practice - for an organization to hire a person outside of the organization, and not post the job opening to the public?
A. With the exception of government agencies (and contractors), there is no law dictating specifically whether or not a company must to post a job opportunity to the public, if indeed they intend to hire from the public. However, employers do need to have consistent and defensible hiring practices in order to avoid discrimination lawsuits. The best way to do that is to have a well documented process for how all job searches will be handled, including those that will be posted internally, externally and/or handled on a confidential basis by a search firm. From a practical matter, it is simply good business practice to hire the person that is the best fit and the most qualified candidate from a pool of possibilities.
Q. Is it permissible to have a potential employer have a potential employee work on-site in order to evaluate whether they can tolerate the physical environment (i.e. closed office, allergies, asthma) for the longer-term?
A. I am going to make the assumption that if the person is a “potential employee” then they would not be “working” per se, but would still be under consideration for being offered a job. Therefore, the on-site visit would be part of the interview process. Giving a candidate an opportunity to experience the work environment is not a bad idea. However, the more important question is how will you measure their ability to tolerate the physical environment and what impact does that have on your hiring decision? You can design bona fide occupational requirements that ensure that qualified candidates are able to, with a reasonable accommodation, do a lot of sitting or standing and/or the posses the ability to work in small spaces for an extended period of time. You cannot obviously ask if they have allergies or asthma, so the objective of having them on-site before hiring them needs to be very clear and within legal hiring parameters as defined by state/federal employment law.
Q. How typical is it for a company to go through the recruiting process, pick a candidate and then put a hold on hiring for the position? It seems like a total waste of resources.
A. There are many scenarios for why this happens. It may seem this way (a total waste of resources), but often it is due to the unexpected – financials take a turn for the worse, staffing needs change, the organization restructures, and/or your needs change. Clearly, your ability to prevent this occurrence is in your best interest. You would want to avoid and prevent the negative perceptions and impressions an experience like this will leave. If this happens, your external brand, in addition to your internal brand (how other employees interpret this decision, and how they perceive how hires & employees are valued) can be compromised.
Q. Any idea what percentage of employers now pay attention to/look at social media sites (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) for profiles of their potential candidates - in order to perform due diligence as to their fit for a position?
A. Data has only recently been collected on this. There are no hard percentages that are clearly agreed to, but the general consensus is that about 35%-50% of employers now pay attention to social media sites to market and recruit potential candidates. The value of this approach is the targeted market you are focusing on, including their network, which has a compounded effect.