It is important to be aware that discrimination can potentially arise even before employment commences. For this reason it is important to avoid certain pitfalls at every stage of the recruitment process:

  1. Keep up to speed on equal opportunities

Ensure all staff involved in recruitment have regular equal opportunities training, check equal opportunities terms in recruitment policies and document any decisions to deviate from them.

  1. Before advertising

Compile a job description and a person specification, so it is clear what your requirements are, ensuring those requirements are justified and do not indirectly discriminate against any groups. Be particularly careful when writing advertisements to avoid discriminatory terms or requirements.

  1. Advertising the job

Best practice is to advertise to the widest possible audience, but if employees are at risk of redundancy, this would be a specific reason to restrict advertising internally. Consider the media used – for example using social media may appeal to a younger audience.

  1. Short listing

Consider who is carrying out the interview to avoid any conflict of interest. Selection criteria and person specification should be agreed, and candidates marked against these. Aptitude tests should not be indirectly discriminatory in any way. Candidates should be asked if they require reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 to complete the interview process.

  1. Interview

Interviewers should ideally ask all applicants the same questions so answers can be scored consistently. Avoid questions which could be discriminatory, or about candidates’ personal life – unless they are directly relevant to the requirements of the job. Written interview records should be made and retained, with a paper trail ensuring compliance with the DPA, Employment Practices Code and relevant company policies or procedures.

For a more detailed discussion of these points, and further guidance on the next stages in the interview process, a sample offer letter and notes on retention of employment records, download our free guide:

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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.