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Top 10 mistakes to avoid when recruiting

14 Aug 2014

Sarah Furness, employment law specialist at Hay & Kilner, looks at the 10 most common recruitment errors, ahead of an informative seminar.

1.) Ignoring policies. Your equal opportunities and recruitment policies are there for a reason. Job applicants can pursue discrimination claims and compensation awards are unlimited. It is therefore important to familiarise yourself with and follow your policies. The duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates is particularly important.

2.) Looking for a superhero. Most job advertisements (and job descriptions) ask for very specific qualifications, experience and qualities. Keep your criteria relevant and necessary. Don’t put off good candidates by being too prescriptive. Consider breaking down requirements as to what is necessary v what is desirable.

3.) Failing to advertise in a range of places. Sticking to what you know in terms of where to advertise will prevent you from reaching a wide variety of candidates. If you advertise online only for example, it is less likely that older candidates or candidates with limited resources will apply.

4.) Discriminating without even realising. Discrimination legislation is very complicated and job adverts and interview questions have led to litigation in recent times. It’s not just the obvious “no’s” that you need to be aware of, such as asking women if they “are planning on having children!”  Less obvious examples of discrimination have included advertising for “mature” candidates or a “younger entrepreneurial” candidate (both constituted age discrimination). If you advertise for a “full-time” employee, consider whether you can justify this on business grounds as there is a sex discrimination risk when considering the number of female employees who have child care commitments. All employees involved in recruitment should participate in equal opportunities training.

5.) Asking about a candidates health pre job offer. Interview questions about a person’s health or attendance record are prohibited as are health questionnaires attached to application forms. There are some circumstances when such questions can be asked but these are limited.

6.) Failure to have a rigid application process. All applicants should be asked the same questions, which are testing and relevant to the job. Consider whether practical or written tests will be useful (keeping in mind your duty to make reasonable adjustments). Ideally have two people involved in the assessment process to make decisions as objective as possible.

7.) Not checking references. However impressive or persuasive a candidate is when they are interviewed, you should never overlook references. Job offers should be made conditional upon receipt of these.

8.) Failure to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants. This makes it more likely that an applicant will pursue a discrimination claim on the basis that they didn’t get the job because of their age, sex, race etc.

9.) Disregarding your paper trail. Full notes should be kept of the shortlisting process, interviews and discussions afterwards. Keep the notes plus documents such as the application forms, job adverts and job descriptions as these will be essential when defending any tribunal claim. Documents should ideally be destroyed after six months in order to comply with data protection legislation.

10.) Not managing the employee from an early stage. It is essential to provide employees with a full induction and training. Expectations should be set from the outset of their employment. If the employee doesn’t meet those expectations, act quickly and make sure you use the probationary period properly by conducting regular reviews and extending it if necessary.

For further information, please contact Sarah Furness.

Call: 0191 232 8345

Email: Sarah.Furness@hay-kilner.co.uk