Recruitment

by Kate Russell

Common questions

  1. What information should I give in a reference?
  2. What questions can I ask candidates at interview?
  3. Am I legally obliged to advertise?
  4. What should I include in a job description?
  5. Can I ask candidates to go through a health screening process?

 

1. What information should I give in a reference?

If it is your normal practice to do so, you should provide a reference. Stick to the facts and don’t be tempted into giving opinions that cannot be substantiated. If all else fails, you can confirm basic factual details:

  • Start and end dates
  • Capacity in which employed
  • Number of days of sickness absence
  • Whether there were any disciplinary warnings live on the file at the time of termination
  • Whether the employee resigned or was dismissed.

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2. What questions can I ask candidates at interview?

Do:

  • Keep questions relevant – relevant to the job
  • Prepare in advance questions that explore the applicants’ backgrounds and experience
  • Write down the answers
  • Use open and behavioural questions
  • Create a short-list of technical questions to put to all applicants and score their responses.

Don’t:

  • Ask questions about such things as childcare plans, arrangements or marital status
  • Ask hypothetical questions
  • Ask discriminatory questions or make discriminatory allusions.

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3. Am I legally obliged to advertise?

If you decide that you need to fill a vacancy, you will have to carry out a broad trawl of available candidates. There is no legal requirement to advertise and sometimes there will be an internal candidate who has already been identified as a suitable person for the job. However, you should show that it is your normal practice to give a range of suitable applicants the opportunity to register their interest with you.

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4. What should I include in the job description?

A job description describes the tasks and responsibilities which make up the job. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complex (although this will depend on the nature of the job).

It would normally include the following:

  • Job title
  • Department
  • Summary and purpose of main job role
  • Main tasks.

Always make sure that the job description includes a catch-all phrase stating that the job holder is required to carry out any other reasonable request by management.

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5. Can I ask candidates to go through a health screening process?

Following the implantation of the Equality Act in October 2010, the general rule is that you should not carry out health screening until after the job offer has been made. Questions should be appropriate, relevant and should not be excessively probing. For example, it would be quite appropriate to ask about back and joint problems if a job involved some degree of lifting which could not be mechanised.

Information collected about health, either physical or mental, is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.

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