Applicant not hired due to “Irish alcoholism” – lessons for the recruitment process
The BBC reported last week that an Irish teacher was turned down for a teaching job in South Korea because of Irish “alcoholism”. After applying for a job as an English teacher, she received a reply stating: “I am sorry to inform you that my client does not hire Irish people due to the alcoholism nature of your kind”.
This may be an extreme example, but it’s a good reminder of what employers should and shouldn’t do during the recruitment process. Remember, it’s not just discrimination against employees which is unlawful – job applicants are protected too.
So what should employers be careful of?
Another article by the BBC found that hundreds of employers have posted job adverts seeking “recent graduates”. One company went as far as to state: “We are always looking to recruit talented, ambitious young people”. Employers posting discriminatory adverts could be setting themselves up for age discrimination claims from aggrieved unsuccessful older applicants.
Make sure that any decision you make isn’t unconsciously swayed by a protected characteristic. Dates on CVs might give you an idea of a person’s age, or details of someone’s school might suggest they have a particular religion. Ensure these are not taken into account during the decision-making process.
The interview process
Make sure those interviewing the candidate are aware of any questions which should under no circumstances be asked. Examples include: “Do you plan on having any more children in the future?” Less obviously dangerous questions include those surrounding the ability to work long hours or to travel, which might indirectly discriminate against women with childcare responsibilities. Think about whether such questions are really necessary, or whether they can be objectively justified.
Throughout the recruitment process, keep good records. A good paper trail means you will be better placed to defend any discrimination claim as you will have evidence of the rationale behind your decision.
Make sure you document things such as recruitment policies, job descriptions, selection criteria, notes on the shortlisting process and any notes from meetings (including the interview itself and post-interview discussions). Keep a careful note of questions asked at interview, as well as details of any training given to the interviewers.
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