Tag: never

One question employers should never ask in a job interview

obama chicago polling voting boothAs we head into election season, discussions are turning to politics more and more frequently.

Your mother may have warned you against talking about politics, but there’s one occasion especially when this conversation should be avoided entirely: the job interview.

You may think asking a potential employee, “Who are you voting for?” is a harmless icebreaker question — but it can get you into hot water, William A. Herbert, chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section, tells Business Insider. 

Public employers

In the public sector, Herbert says asking about political affiliations during a job interview might violate state tenure laws that have been enacted since the 1800s to prohibit political patronage.

For example, under New York’s civil service law, public sector employers are prohibited from making political inquiries, with the exception of policy-making positions.

Herbert says that an applicant denied a public sector job following such an inquiry might also claim that the denial violated their right of association under the First Amendment and state law.

It’s also illegal for federal employers to ask federal employees and applicants about political party affiliation.

Private employers

“Although the law does not prevent a private-sector employer from asking about a potential employee’s political activities, any employer should think carefully before asking these questions,” says Stacey K. Grigsby, a lawyer with law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Washington, DC, who specializes in employment law issues and previously worked for the US Justice Department.

Herbert points to state laws like New York’s Labor Law, which prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s off-duty and off-premises political activities and could form the basis for a lawsuit.

And asking job candidates about their political beliefs could be illegal if it were perceived as related to their race, gender religion, sexual orientation, or other legally protected status, Grigsby says.

“As a practical matter, such inquiries are inadvisable,” Herbert says. “It is rare that the political affiliation or plans for voting of an applicant or an employee has any relevance to the ability to perform a job.”

“And an employer could very well risk offending a qualified candidate with this type of question,” Grigsby says.

SEE ALSO: What to say if a hiring manager asks ‘Who are you voting for?’ during a job interview

DON’T MISS: 9 things hiring managers should never ask about in a job interview

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Honesty is the best policy in the workplace — but like any rule, this one has a few exceptions.
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Why you’ll never have to change your underwear (brand) again

Mack Weldon NEW

If there’s one piece of clothing most guys don’t like thinking about, it’s their underwear.

Does anyone really want to research new underwear styles, fabrics, fit, and price? Wouldn’t you rather find great underwear you like so you can buy it over and over again without thinking about it?

Mack Weldon, a men’s apparel company that sells “smart underwear for smart guys,” seems to think so.

Over the past few years the company has been trying not just to advance the comfort and performance of men’s underwear but also to simplify buying it, says Brian Berger, founder and CEO.

Berger’s main contention is that, when guys find a new style of underwear they like, it’s often replaced or changed. That’s because most underwear is sold through third-party retailers, like department stores, that want to keep merchandise fresh. To make sure retailers are happy, according to Berger, “brands have to constantly introduce new products into that channel.”

But that’s counterintuitive to how people actually shop for underwear. “What customers want,” says Berger, “is to know you’re getting what you got last time — what you’re comfortable with, what worked.”

Creating a better fit

Mack Weldon believes in perfecting the product and giving consumers an easy way to keep buying it. With that goal in mind, Berger recruited a top team from apparel brands, such as Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. His designers looked at some common flaws in men’s underwear and attempted to solve for them.

So Mack Weldon boxer briefs, for example, have waistbands inspired by cycling shorts, so they won’t curl over. Undershirts have longer tails and higher armholes, so they won’t untuck when the wearer bends over. And dress socks can also go with casual shoes, for guys who fall somewhere between business and casual outside the office. Mack Weldon even integrated silver filaments into the fabric to reduce microbial activity.

“We’re the first lifestyle brand to blend silver with cotton,” says Berger. “It keeps you cool and dry, and you can blend it with something like cotton and have something that feels very natural, and not synthetic, but still has great performance action.”

Berger says that, more and more, consumers want to know the story behind the product. “If you’re just someone trying to find a better mousetrap,” says Berger, “it stops for you at ‘this is more comfortable.’ But a lot of guys want to know about the details. They want to read the back stories and know about fit, fabric, and functionality.”

Perfecting the customer experience

Because Mack Weldon is trying to achieve perfection, the products go through rigorous testing and design iterations before they hit the market.

Once the products are ready, Mack Weldon sells direct to consumers through a customer experience that was created from scratch. It’s based on three things:

  • A pricing model that never offers sales but gives discounts based on volume.
  • Direct-to-consumer sales that eliminate having to please retailers.
  • A high-functioning product that offers consistency and innovation.

This strategy is working. Mack Weldon’s data shows customers are returning after their first purchases and buying more. And while about half of the company’s sales come from underwear, t-shirts, and socks,  a newer line of sweats are growing as customers learn that they can get a better product more easily — each and every season.

And maybe, it could be enough to get them to really care about their underwear.

Learn more about Mack Weldon’s 18-hour jersey here.

This post is sponsored by Mack Weldon

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015: Why Millennials Should Never Trust Anyone

The new Pew survey of millennials presents a portrait of young people that is both depressing and optimistic. Millennials, young adults between 18 and 33, are low on social trust: Just 19 percent believe that “most people can be trusted,” compared to 40 percent of Baby Boomers and 31 percent of Generation X.

Why are young people less trusting than their elders? The Pew study offers several hypotheses:

Racial diversity. Minorities have historically been less trusting than whites. The millennial generation is far more diverse than their elders — 43 percent are minorities. Internet usage: Millennials are strongly connected to online communities and friends. The average millennial has 250 Facebook friends. Strong Internet connections may lead to closed social networks and a wariness to put too much trust in people who are not part of your network. Pessimism for the future. However, the Pew study finds that millennials are upbeat about the country’s future and their own prospects for financial success. But we should reconsider these conclusions. My research strongly suggests that economic pessimism, not racial diversity or the Internet, is the key to explaining lower trust.

The first two explanations seem plausible, but they gather little support from the data. The Pew data are not publicly available, but Pew’s surveys use the same trust question as the General Social Survey (GSS): “Generally speaking, do you believe that most people can be trusted or can’t you be too careful in dealing with people?” In the 2012 GSS, 19 percent of millennials expressed trust in others, the same as the Pew survey.

The main reason to discount racial diversity is that it cannot account for the generational decline in trust among whites. Minorities have always been less trusting than whites — not just in the United States, but virtually everywhere the question has been asked. But unlike among whites, the trend among minorities has been fairly stable over time: minority young people are slightly more mistrusting than their minority elders, but the difference is small (5 percent). Although the increasing share of young people who are racial minorities may lower trust overall, it does not explain the key trend: why each successive generation of whites has become less trusting — with white millennials almost as mistrusting as minorities of any age. Roughly 22 percent of white millennials trust others, compared to 16 percent of black/non-white millennials.

There is also little reason to blame the Internet for lowering trust. I have shown (gated) that there is no relationship between Internet use and trust. And the logic behind this linkage is suspect. Most of our interactions on the Internet are with people we know. Generalized trust is all about having faith in strangers — and there is no clear way to go from one form of trust to the other.

This leaves economic pessimism. Although Pew noted that young people are fairly optimistic about their future, the key question is not whether you believe that you will succeed in life. Through thick and thin, Americans have been optimistic about their own abilities to overcome obstacles to success. What matters most are relative expectations.

Here, the pessimism of millennials stands out: relative to Baby Boomers, millennials are more likely to say that their generation is worse off than their parents. Millennials also worry that “today’s young adults face greater economic challenges than their parents’ generation faced when they were starting out,” as stated in the Pew report. And fewer millennials now consider themselves to be middle class (42 percent to 53 percent in 2008). More millennials now see themselves as lower or lower-middle class now than in 2008 (46 percent compared to 25 percent).

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