Top 5 mistakes managers make…with recruitment

Top 5 mistakes managers make…with recruitment

With January being prime recruitment season, many managers will find themselves involved in a recruitment process this New Year. Below, we look at some of the potential pitfalls of recruitment and how they can be avoided.

  • 1. Advertising the role

Job adverts should always be carefully worded and avoid using loaded language. For example, asking for a candidate to be ‘youthful and energetic’, ‘mature’ or a ‘recent graduate’ could be perceived as targeting candidates of a certain age and amount to age discrimination. It is better to use neutral language such as ‘driven and enthusiastic’ instead.

2. Shortlisting

You should think carefully about what skills, experience, etc are actually required to do the role you are recruiting for. For example, if you are recruiting for someone with ‘at least ten years’ experience’ you should be able to justify why this level of experience is necessary. If you don’t have a good reason for such a requirement it could amount to age discrimination as younger workers will be less likely to have this amount of experience.

Also, if you are using an application form or CV in your recruitment process, it may be a good idea to remove the candidate’s name to avoid any discriminatory bias.

3. Social media checks

During the recruitment process, you may be tempted to look up candidates’ profiles on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter. Whilst this can be a good way to obtain more information about a candidate, it is a dangerous game to play.

Using social media in this way could increase your exposure to discrimination claims as candidates could argue that your hiring decision was influenced by discriminatory factors (such as age or race) which you gleaned from their profile.

4. Be careful with your questions

When interviewing, you should avoid asking candidates irrelevant personal questions such their age, relationship status, family plans, child care arrangements, etc. It sounds obvious, but a surprisingly high number of employers still get this wrong. Asking questions of this nature can give rise to claims of age and/or sex discrimination.

Also, to reduce the risk of bias at the interview stage, it is advisable for interviews to be held by a panel (ideally of mixed sex) rather than by a single interviewer.

5. Keep a good record

The easiest way to prevent complaints of unlawful discrimination during the recruitment process is to keep a good record of every stage of the selection and recruitment process. A paper trail with a clear account of all decisions taken will ensure that an explanation can be provided should any complaint or claim arise. The more references there are in writing to objective justifications for making a decision (such as a person’s experience or qualifications), the more useful it will be should any discontented candidates seek an explanation.

Marguerite Perin and Sarah Owbridge are paralegals at leading senior executive employment law firm BDBF.