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In October 2010 the Equality Act will make it unlawful to ask job applicants about their health. The thinking behind this move is that employers are discriminating at application stage against applicants with mental health issues and other disabilities. 

I personally find this unhelpful because if interview panels cannot ask applicants about their disabilities how are reputable employers supposed to help applicants overcome them in the work environment!  Companies urged to review applicant health questionnaires – Telegraph. ELE will shortly produce a pre-employment application pro forma to assist ELE members with this process. We will notify members when it is issued.

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If you are about to recruit new staff take just 5 minutes to read this  cautionary tale (the names have been changed to protect the innocent!) for employers everywhere.  I have included 6 key things you can do to avoid making the same costly mistakes as Henry…

Henry was working flat out covering for his production manager at his factory in the East Midlands. The manager had walked out and left Henry in the lurch without a word of warning and he didn’t have time to mess about with fancy recruitment procedures ~ he just needed a production manager in place, Pronto!

So Henry got his assistant to jot down a few key duties and advertise the vacancy in the local newspaper. He was sure there would be lots of great candidates and couldn’t wait to get the shortlist.

However, after a whole day spent sorting the huge postbag of applications and reading the various formats of C.V. and covering letters Mona, Henry’s assistant, selected 15 candidates for the shortlist and went home with a migraine!

A week later the shortlisted candidates turned up and Mona showed them into Henry’s office. She had staggered the interviews in 45 minute slots so it took 2 days to get through them all. Half of them didn’t turn up and most of those who did were hopeless. Henry was furious.

In the interviews, Henry did most of the talking. When he remembered to ask questions the candidates gave him their life histories which wasted lots of valuable interview time. When he reached the end of the interviews Henry was left with a dilemma. He hadn’t a clue who was best suited to the job!

However, Henry was under tremendous pressure to fill the vacancy so against his better judgement he decided to go ahead. Henry stared at the list and scratched his head.  He may as well have stuck a pin in the shortlist. Eventually, he settled for the one that seemed to be ‘quite a nice chap’. Mona shrugged her shoulders and started typing the offer letter.

Two months after the successful candidate started the job, the outputs on the production line were not meeting targets and clients were starting to complain. Within six months the situation became critical and Henry had to sack the new Production Manager before his clients took their business elsewhere.

So, in spite of having spent valuable time and money advertising, interviewing and appointing a Production Manager, Poor Old Henry was back to square one!

Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid making the same mistakes as Henry:

1. Require candidates to complete an application form which has been specifically designed for the job in question. This will help you shortlist suitable candidates more easily.
2. Draw up a job description and person specification and give a copy to the shortlisted candidates before the interview. This will help them self select to some degree.
3. Tell candidates that during the interview they will be required to relate their previous experience and personal abilities to the advertised job. This will help you assess their suitability for the role.
4. And, if the job is for a managerial role ask candidates to prepare a 10 minute presentation to explain how they would approach the role during the first 12 months.
5. Before each candidate leaves the interview make sure that they have addressed all the key requirements of the job.
6. Take 5 to 10 minutes at the end of each interview to score candidates according to their suitability for the key requirements of the job. This will help you select the most suitable candidate PLUS it will help to protect you from claims of discrimination.

Don’t forget to use the support guides and forms in the Recruitment Managers Toolkit on your ELE webservice account to help you get the right staff on board first time.

Warm regards

Carolyn

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