The employee journey – part 1 – ethical employee interviews

The process of finding and taking on new staff is something that managers tend to either love or hate! Whether needed to support the growth of the business, or driven by necessity – perhaps after the departure of an existing employee, finding employees can be a time consuming, intensive and sometimes costly process.

On top of this, there are several rules that need to be applied at every stage to ensure fairness and equality. Here is a reminder of just what you need to bear in mind throughout the recruitment process.

Before any work begins on finding a new employee, it is important to ensure an effective policy is in place. Managers should carefully design their interview process and make it available to all managerial staff so that any recruitment is consistent and follows the same set of guidelines.

It is vitally important that no unlawful discrimination occurs at any stage in the recruitment process. This includes discrimination – either direct or indirect – on the basis of any of the defined ‘protected characteristics’ – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, maternity, pregnancy, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

As such, managers will need to ask themselves whether their actions could be considered discriminatory at every stage – from the way the job is advertised and the description that is provided, through to selecting candidates for interview and during the interview stage itself.

For example, when compiling the job description, employers should consider whether the role really needs to be full-time, or whether two people could share the role, each on a part-time basis.

When requesting applications, requiring a form to be filled out in the applicant’s own handwriting could be considered discriminatory if written English is not relevant to the job. Making an online version of the form available would be a satisfactory solution.

To avoid any unintended or unconscious bias, sifting through application and conducting interviews should if possible be done by at least two people. Ideally, these people should have received training on how to interview job candidates, and where they have one, should include someone from the company’s HR department.

During the interview, there are many questions that could be considered illegal to ask a candidate – such as anything relating to a protected characteristic like their marital status, their age or if they have children. As such, these should be kept out of the interview process completely.

To aid selection, many employers favour practical tests or assessment centres. These can be useful in testing for specific skills depending on the type of job to be filled, but employers need to be mindful of the fact that any tests must relate to the requirements of the job.

There are only a limited set of circumstances under which an employer is able to ask health-related questions before making a job offer. However, once a job offer has been made, information around health and disability can be ascertained more freely.

In order to be able to justify your selection should a complaint of discrimination be raised by an applicant, it is advisable to keep any notes relating to every round of recruitment you undertake for a reasonable period.

However, it is vital that any information obtained about an individual during the recruitment process is treated in the strictest confidence and in line with data protection procedures as well as your internal policies.

Remember that a candidate can ask to see information held about them – for example, the application form, interview notes and references, or the full personal file if the candidate already works for the organisation.

Finding new employees isn’t everyone’s favourite task, but if you follow the guidelines set out above, you will at least be able to rest assured that you have been ethical in your approach, therefore minimising the risk of any claims being made against you down the line.

For more information on any of the above, or to discuss our services in relation to assisting with new employees, such as assisting in the interview process or planning for a recruitment drive, please contact us.