Hasty hiring leads to costly mistakes

We all want to do things as quickly as possible, but there are things that are worth taking your time over.

If you rush through a recruitment process, it can be a costly mistake. Hiring the wrong person for a role zaps time, resources and money.

Here are some of the most common mistakes employers make when hiring an employee and how you can avoid them.

Rushing the job advert

When you have been left with a sudden vacancy, it may seem tempting to just copy and paste another advert and amend it. But you should really think about what the key requirements for that specific role are.

Make sure that the job advert has been drafted carefully to avoid any language which could be considered discriminatory. For example, pay attention when using any gender-specific terms. If you say ‘waitress’, it suggests you are only looking to hire a woman. If you say ‘handy man’, it seems that you only wish to recruit a male worker. It may be permissible for employers to advertise for applicants of a certain gender but only if you can show a real occupational need. For instance, in a women’s refuge, female workers may be required to allow victims to feel safe.

Keeping the search narrow

You should also take time to put the job advert on various platforms to reach the widest pool of candidates possible.

Not making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees

In cases of disabled job applicants, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to working practices, policies and procedures. This could involve, for example, conducting an interview for a wheelchair user on the ground floor.

A recent case that highlights the importance of considering reasonable adjustment and not cutting corners is Government Legal Service (GLS) v Brookes. In this case, Miss Brookes, the job applicant, had Asperger’s syndrome and requested to answer the questions in a short narrative, rather than the required multiple choice. This was rejected by the GLS. She sat the test and received a mark just below the pass rate and did not go through to the next recruitment stage.

The Employment Tribunal decided that the requirement to sit and pass the test did place the applicant at a disadvantage compared with those applicants who did not have Asperger’s. They concluded that there was no other reason given by the GLS as to why she had failed the test.

They ordered compensation and made a recommendation that the employer provide the applicant with a written apology. They also urged them to review their recruitment procedures for those applicants with a disability.  The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision.

Lack of training

All those who are involved in the recruitment process should be very familiar with the internal recruitment policy and know the ins and outs of the Equality Act 2010.

Not planning the interview

Going into interviews without careful planning is another mistake. You will only scratch the surface of an applicant if you haven’t taken the time to read through their application thoroughly and picked out the areas that need to be delved into.

It’s useful to ask the same set of questions to all candidates to probe into their education, experience, skills set, knowledge, etc. This makes the process as fair as possible.

Asking the wrong questions in interviews

You should avoid asking questions such as ‘how old are you?, ‘are you married?’, ‘are you planning to have children soon?’  or ‘where are you from?’. These types of questions can be interpreted as discrimination – it can imply that you make hiring decisions based on these factors.

You also need to be careful about asking questions about an applicant’s health. As a general principle, it’s not permissible for an employer to ask a job applicant any questions about their health or disability until they have been offered a job. In certain circumstances, you may be able to ask questions before offer stage. For example, if the role involves working on scaffolding, you may ask an applicant to undertake an assessment to show they can climb.

Letting bias creep in

It’s advisable to have more than one person involved in the interview process. This helps ensure that the final decision is not just based on one person’s own biased views.

Not making the relevant checks

Employers will often make a conditional job offer, which can be withdrawn if the applicant does not fulfil all the conditions of the offer. The conditions could include satisfactory references, a criminal record check or a qualifications check. However, often employers will not contact referees or carry out the appropriate checks and this can lead to problems further on down the line.

Mishandling rejections

Employers are often reluctant to provide rejected job applicants with feedback because they are dealing with a high volume of applicants and it’s simply not feasible to provide feedback to each individual applicant. There is also a fear that disgruntled job applicants who are displeased at being rejected will not accept the feedback and twist it to threaten the employer with claims of unlawful discrimination.

It should be handled with care because you run the risk of damaging your organisation’s reputation and brand. Job applicants have a wide variety of platforms at their disposal to vent and leave negative reviews about their recruitment experience with you, which can put off other future potential candidates and give a negative impression to a wider audience.

If you have an internal applicant, providing feedback can be a good way to make sure that the employment relationship continues on good terms. You also don’t want to burn bridges with the applicant. They may not be right for that role, but they may be a great fit for one that comes up in the future.

Not keeping records

You should keep records of job descriptions, personal specifications, application forms, short listing records, interview assessments, scoring grids, assessment results, etc. These notes may be used to provide applicants with feedback and may also be required if you do face legal action.

Steering clear of these types of mistakes will do wonders for your recruitment practices. Seek legal advice if you wish to explore this further.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

Whether you’re facing an immediate challenge or just want the reassurance of an expert second opinion, we’re here to offer clear, commercial advice so that you can focus on what you do best.

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