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Fair Recruiting

#Know How / 17.03.2017

There are many different sides to fair HR work. When choosing to hire new employees, the requirements differ in every culture, industry and company. Many factors dictate whether you find someone likeable or not. Recruiters often must make decisions during their workday which have an impact on at least one person’s life. This is why fair recruiting is so important. Candidates’ official qualifications and soft skills are obviously important. However, it is not only objective criteria which determine whether a candidate can look forward to a new job or will at least be invited to an interview.

Unfortunately, fair and transparent methods are not used 100% of the time during recruiting. To a certain extent, it is understandable that HR employees want to find a quick way to select applicants, especially when applications keep piling up and they are under a great deal of pressure time-wise. On the other hand, sometimes there are hiring procedures which dictate from the very beginning that not all applications will be reviewed.

Of course, it is hard to prove which criteria or processes are actually used during the selection process. However, if information gets out that hiring methods are unfair, this will quickly have a negative impact on the company’s image as an employer.

Worst Practices

The 5 selection methods described below will guarantee you do not come across well during recruiting:

  • only picking the first/last three applications from the pile to look at and invite for an interview, or just picking three randomly, or rolling dice or…
  • picking someone based on their picture.
  • Excluding candidates right away because of biases. These biases may be related to age, sex/gender, origin, appearance, physical attributes or the person’s name (“Frances sounds too old-fashioned”).
  • Hiring a recommended candidate (who happens to be your colleague’s sister’s acquaintance) without thinking twice.
  • Putting all the applicants through a torturous process, deciding to get rid of the position in the end and then sending everyone an email (where you put everyone in CC).

Various do’s and don’ts have been established when it comes to making the hiring process fairer and ensuring that no applicants are discriminated against, and all candidates really have a chance at filling the vacancy. For example, it is still common in Germany and Austria to include a picture with a job application. This is frowned upon in the U.S. and Great Britain. Leaving out the picture eliminates at least one factor that can lead to unfair decisions. In some countries, the candidate’s name, sex/gender and age are removed from the application before recruiters look at it. This is done to ensure that decisions are based entirely on qualifications and hard facts.

Even if it happens subconsciously, recruiters are only human and often make decisions based on a gut feeling. On the one hand, this makes it difficult to justify certain decisions; on the other hand, your HR team (hopefully) knows the company well enough to be able to rely on this gut feeling.

Fair Recruiting: All for one and one for all

Here are some first steps that HR staff, employees and business owners can take towards fair recruiting…

  • Live out tolerance and diversity in the company.
  • Do not give anyone special treatment.
  • Determine clear selection criteria and tell those involved about them.
  • Make decisions about who to hire as a team, and communicate the reasons for your decision in a transparent way.
  • Before making a final decision, look at the factors which may influence your decision objectively and subjectively, and think about what impact they had on your decision.
  • Nip unfair behavior from employees, colleagues and managers in the bud.
  • Clearly define what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Fair recruiting presupposes that the company does a lot of preparation beforehand. Everyone’s thoughts and actions can be contribute to it. Fair means acting in a manner that is just, honest and respectable. Structuring the recruiting process in the necessary way ensures that you really find those applicants best suited to the position. In terms of both hard and soft skills. A clearly defined recruiting process also helps, as does the use of the right software or special selection methods (e.g. an assessment center, test, trial tasks).

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