What do you do on a Saturday night?

Oct 30 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

When a job seeker manages to make it through to the final stage of the application process they may be in for a mixed experience depending on where they apply, according to a new poll.

An online poll of 200 visitors to the HR Gateway website suggests that HR professionals themselves are mixed as to how they see the quality of interviewing in their organisation with almost six out of ten labelling it either as ‘poor’ or ‘average’.

On the positive side, a third – the highest single score in the poll – said that their organisation’s approach to interviewing was ‘good’ while a further nine per cent called it ‘excellent’.

A number of surveys recently have brought to the surface the holes in interview techniques in UK organisations, with some applicants being turned down simply for showing ‘too keen an interest in salary’.

Sadly, it appears that the state of the art of interviewing in UK plc is still based on personal bias rather than objectivity, with one recent survey suggesting over a fifth of interviewers in the UK recruit managers they personally like rather than objectively.

Veronica Dean, employment lawyer at Hammonds, said today that in future such choices were not to be taken lightly. EU legislation means that applicants who feel they have been wronged have the courts at their disposal:

”’What do you do on a Saturday night?’ is not a valid question in an interview,” she said, “and unless employers start to train managers so that the next time this poll is taken the majority say either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, firms could be in trouble.

“Once the spectre of discrimination has been raised, the burden of proof is on the employer to show that the reason the person did not get the job was down to other factors.”

Dean feels that there will be an increase in claims taken by disgruntled applicants over the coming months and years and urges HR to ensure that all managers are well trained in how to interview properly.

The next raft of EU legislation to hit the country is the UK's implementation of the EU Equal Treatment Framework Directive, which sees the outlawing of discrimination in the workplace on grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief.

Coming into force on December 2nd 2003, it means that if an applicant feels that they did not get the job because of their chosen belief or sexual preference they can take their claim to court.