The recruitment process doesn’t have to be all about who’s the last left standing, who doesn’t have “nosy” neighbours and who doesn’t appear on TV debates!  In “real life” it can be a lot more civilised and who knows, it can lead to better results – only time will tell!

An effective and thorough recruitment process while apparently lengthy and somewhat time-consuming in the short term can, in the long term, be hugely beneficial. Conversely, a poorly managed process with inadequate procedures can lead to many management hours spent addressing issues relating to employees who are unsuited to their job, need to be managed out of the business and should never have been recruited in the first place. Of course, that would never happen at 10 Downing St!

Keeping with that key number, here are ten tips for effective recruitment:

1. Are your processes and practices discrimination free?

With over forty years of anti-discrimination legislation in law, most employers are aware of the obvious direct discrimination pitfalls; offering a job on the basis that the applicant is a “good bloke”, specifying in an advert that applicant must be a “young pretty woman”. 

However, employers are often caught out with other arrangements made during the process that indirectly discriminate against certain applicants. For example, you should always be flexible with interview times and venues to ensure you don't exclude applicants with disabilities or childcare commitments. If the application process is online, make sure there is an alternative for applicants without internet access or with a disability, and be wary of specifying certain qualifications such as GCSEs as these were not introduced until 1988 so such a requirement could be age discrimination. 

Regular training for staff involved in recruitment is crucial and will help to spot these hidden issues and change the processes accordingly.

2. Are you GDPR compliant?

Job applicants are data subjects and provide personal data (and frequently provide special category data (previously sensitive personal data)) to employers who, as data controllers, process that data. With that in mind, all advertisements will need to inform applicants how the information they supply will be processed (usually held on computer or manually as part of the recruitment process) and how long it will be held.

3. Are you aware of the Statutory Code produced by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission?

The statutory code is useful in two important aspects; first, it provides valuable best practice advice for employers in recruitment when navigating the Equality Act 2010, second, tribunal proceedings will consider adherence to the code. 

4. Are you creating a litigation-proof paper trail?

Good practice is only as good as the paper trail that records it. A comprehensive paper trail is crucial in warding off potential tribunal claims and in defending those that make it through. This trail should start from the point of drafting the job description and person specification and go right through to the appointment and any matters arising beyond that date. The EHRC code recommends that every selection decision from shortlisting to appointment is important and should have the corresponding paperwork. Difficult decisions should be justified and noted.

5. Are you drafting accurate documents which assist with the appointment?

Detailed job descriptions and person specifications are crucial in this process. In the drafting process, this will focus the employers’ mind on what exactly is required and demonstrate an objective approach. As the process then unfolds, assessing applications strictly against well-written job and person specifications will improve the chances of appointing a candidate who is qualified and competent to carry out the role. 

6. Are you aware of any occupational exceptions?

There are some limited circumstances under the Equality Act 2010, where employers can discriminate in their recruitment of some roles. There is a general, occupational requirement (OR) exception where employees can require applicants to be a particular sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age having regard to the nature or context of the work. Also, there is a specific exception for the purposes of organised religion. 

These exceptions, however, come with a health warning! The exceptions are not intended to be used to help employers circumvent the Equality Act, and so any exceptions will have to be justified and well drafted.  This is an area where specific sector advice is crucial.

7. Are you trained and prepared for the interview?

The two essentials components of this part of the process are a trained and appropriate interview panel and a clear list of questions that must be asked at each interview. The former should ensure that the individuals involved are aware of potential discriminatory questions and assumptions and are aware of how to conduct the interviews to get the best out of the candidates. A clear list of questions will assist that process and provide a vital part of any paper trail, demonstrating objective criterion and transparent practices. 

8. Are you making a conditional offer?

Most job offers are made subject to the following conditions; satisfactory reference, confirmation the applicant is free to work in the UK, completed medical questionnaire, evidence of necessary qualifications and completed checks necessary for the role, e.g. clear DBS check etc. Any conditions must be clearly stated to the applicant and confirmation that no employment contract exists before these conditions are met is vital. While employers should not make hasty judgements on the back of negative and sparse references, neither should they feel contractually bound to appoint when the references suggest it would be an unwise move.

Medical checks ironically come with a health warning themselves! The EHRC Code advises that employers who have made job offers subject to satisfactory health checks should ensure that such enquiries to the role and that reasonable adjustments will be made where necessary.

9. Are you confident when withdrawing an offer?

Employers may wish to withdraw offers for several reasons. In these circumstances, there will most likely be a disgruntled applicant, and so again, paperwork clearly documenting the decision and reason for the decision is vital.

Where for whatever reason the offer is withdrawn after it has been offered and accepted, the employer is in breach of contract, and so the applicant will be entitled to a notice payment. If they can prove the withdrawal is for a discriminatory reason, it may entitle the applicant to an injury to feelings award. While employers should not shy away from withdrawing offers when they feel the applicant is not right for the job, they should proceed with care and take legal advice, especially if there is any suspected discriminatory angle. 

10. Are you setting the applicant up to succeed?

The induction process is as vital a part of recruitment as are points 1-9. A comprehensive yet appropriate induction period will enable the recruit to settle in, learn the practicalities and start becoming an asset to the business. One in four new recruits leaves in the first 90 days of their employment. The most common reasons for this are inadequate initial and then ongoing training and an absence of goals and expectations. Reducing those figures through good processes is an easy win for any employer and creates a culture where people feel part of something from the start of their employment.

For more information

Please contact Libby Hubbard on 0121 214 3577 or