Organisations need to be aware of the potential, often unseen, pitfalls in the recruitment and selection process. Personally I have lots of examples of when organisations haven’t clearly thought through the expectations and requests set out in a job advertisement and job description, often failing to understand the impression they make on potential applicants. It is essential that organisations are aware of the ‘murky’ and often ambiguous area that can develop from a miscommunication between what the employer seeks and what they actually request, which can leave them open to accusations of discrimination.
The following anecdote illustrates this problem perfectly:
Mr Potential Employee applies for one of three sales posts with an organisation.
After two interviews, and despite his having years of experience in the industry, Mr Potential Employee’s application was rejected.
Mr Potential Employee was 60 at the time of his application, whereas the three individuals the organisation eventually appointed to the posts were 38, 42 and 43. Mr Potential Employee had repeatedly been asked questions about whether he, at the age of 60, still had the necessary ‘motivation ‘ and ‘ drive ‘ to be successful in the post.
Mr Potential Employee brought a claim to an industrial tribunal, alleging that the organisation had discriminated against him on the grounds of his age.
Mr Potential Employee won his claim because the organisation when advertising the post had sought a candidate with ‘youthful enthusiasm’.
Together with the nature of questioning during the interview these factors combined clearly showed that Mr Potential Employee’s age had been taken into account when the organisation decided not to appoint him.
Discrimination claims are uncapped at tribunal!
This could have been avoided had the company had a recruitment and selection procedure
Here is my advice for employers wanting to shield themselves from a similar situation:
- The objective is to recruit the right person for the business and in order to do this we advise you follow a structured approach. You need to consider the job description, develop a personal specification, advertise, short list and interview.
- You may ask, why follow procedure? A recruitment and selection procedure would assist in assessing skills and experience fairly, provide a defence against potential tribunal claims and also help secure the right person for the business taking into consideration any reasonable adjustments where necessary.
- If you do not have a recruitment and selection policy then you leave the business open to serial claimants that usually have no intention of actually taking up any offer of employment.
- If the business has a recruitment and selection policy it helps provide a defence against potential claimants as you have a document trail should you need it and also demonstrates you have applied a fair and consistent approach throughout the interview process and have not discriminated against any of the applicants.