Interviews - Perils and Pitfalls
By Joanna Worby (Brachers Solicitors) - 16/Jan/2008
Recent trends in discrimination law have led employers to be increasingly concerned about the legal pitfalls in the recruitment process.
Are issues relating to childcare "no go" areas in job interviews?
What additional requirements are there for a candidate suffering from a serious medical condition?
This article seeks to address these key concerns and provide easy to follow advice on conducting the job interview process.
Always avoid asking intrusive questions relating to a candidates' personal circumstances, such as whether they have children, are married or have a partner. If you ask questions of this nature you run the risk that, for example, a female candidate will believe, if she is not successful in getting the job, that assumptions made about her childcare responsibilities were the reason for that. This could lead to a sex discrimination claim.
How should you deal with a candidate with a serious medical condition?
These situations must always be handled with sensitivity. You may wish to take advice on disability discimination law at the time, but the following pointers will help:
- - Gain a basic understanding of the medical condition in advance of the interview.
- - Contact the candidate to see if you need to make any special arrangements to accommodate him or her at the interview, and in the day-to-day job.
- - Investigate whether any financial assistance is available, e.g. from Job Centre Plus, to put arrangements in place.
- - Make assumptions that the medical condition will prevent the candidate from fulfilling the job role.
What if you believe you need an individual with a particular leve of experience to undertake a job?
Asking for a particular number of years experience should be avoided if at all possible. Consider very carefully whether this is entirely necessary.
- - Consider exactly what the job entails and the requirements of the applicant. If, on the rare occasion you cannot avoid asking for this you must objectively justify your reasoning and document it in case you are challenged later.
- - When interviewing make sure the questions about qualification and experience relate directly to the requirements of the job.
- - Suggest or imply an application is too experienced for a role or set a maximum level of experience.
And finally, if you are interviewing applicantsDO...
- - Be consistent in terms of what you tell each applicant relating to the selection process.
- - Ask each candidate the same questions in the same order.
- - Ensure that the questions relate to the requirements of the job.
- - Keep notes as evidence of the reason for selection or rejection of each candidate.
- - Bear in mind that the notes may be disclosable to the candidate if he or she makes a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 1998 or brings an Employment Tribunal claim.
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