I could cry, but I would be wasting my tears and crying about something over which I have no control. I have just listened to a very articulate 21 year old describing the interview process he was put through by one of my old employers. Now ordinarily, I wouldn’t mind too much, but in this instance I was part of the team which developed and tested a robust recruitment toolkit which measured candidates against core competencies in a transparent and meaningful way. Admittedly it was many years ago now and I suspect that the recruitment tools have moved on, but what I have just heard was …… beyond words.
Asking candidates to dance around the room would be fine if the job was for a dancer in a show or an entertainer on a cruise ship, but it is highly inappropriate for a customer sales assistant in a technology retailer. By the nature of the retail environment, staff need to be able to approach people, understand their needs and sell them the most appropriate
item. At no time would these staff be required to dance, sing or build a straight brick wall, therefore the interview process should not expect them to do so.
I was delighted to hear that the retailer concerned has taken the complaint very seriously and has apologised to the candidates involved and offered them legitimate interviews – I suspect they may need new staff in the Cardiff store after the disciplinary process has finished!
But what warning does this send to all employers, across all sectors, interviewing for any job?
The face validity of the recruitment process is key. If you want to see the best in a candidate, the candidate needs to understand why you are asking the question you ask and be given the opportunity to demonstrate how they are the best fit for the vacancy. Carrying out a competency based interview is essential, even if the vacancy is an internal move.
Understand what will make someone good at the job you need doing? What education, what skills, what type of personality. Then test them for that in a meaningful way during the selection process.
If you are recruiting for a teacher, watch them in action with a class.
If you are recruiting for a sales assistant, put them in the shop for an hour as part of your interview process.
If you are recruiting a marketing professional, set them a copywriting or a design type test, or perhaps ask them for a marketing strategy.
Care needs to be taken when you select from a pool of candidates, you can’t usually ask them to perform something they are not trained to do or expect them to know the specifics of your business or products. You are looking for ability, aptitude and attitude. Often you may be looking for expertise, experience and team fit – test for these in a meaningful
If you don’t know how, ask for help. Getting it wrong can cost you both financially and in reputation.