The viper’s pit – recruiting staff

I always wonder why it takes government so long to do anything.

Oh, I know there are lots of people to consult, things to think about, colleagues to appease, legislation to water down, papers to wave at each other and so on.

But even so, you’d think they could get things done a bit quicker.  For example, there’s going to be a review of whether oil companies are making too much profit by increasing fuel prices very quickly when the cost of crude oil goes up, but not reducing them as quickly (or at all) when the price comes down.

The government is going to report back in January… let’s say that’s 5 months or roughly 150 days or 3,600 hours.

In that time Shell will have made £7,200,000,000.  (source:

I could help the government with their research by answering the question for them: YES.  Prices go up fast and don’t come down again.

There you go… now let’s do something about it.

There’s a similar thing going on in HR law as well.

The government has been promising to remove the administrative burden on particularly EB businesses when it comes to employing people.  The idea is that if you make it easier to employ someone, people like you and me are more likely to employ them (I wonder which government Einstein worked that one out) and the economy improves.

But it’s taking an age for anything to change and, in the meantime, business owners without necessarily loads of experience are getting caught out in the recruitment process.

For example, I was running a session the other week about effective and legal recruitment.  As always I asked the group (who all work in EB) what questions they could ask and which ones they should avoid.

As always I got a range of answers from: I can ask anything I want; it’s my business to: I think I can ask anything I want, it’s my business!

That’s just not true.  For example: the question ‘What do you do in your spare time?’  Is a very dangerous question to ask.


Because it has nothing to do with the job role.  Consider this scenario: 2 men, 35 years of age, equally qualified and with the same experience.  Both are smartly dressed at the interview, which is for a job in a call centre.

Response 1: I coach a local boy’s football team and do some work for charity.  I’m chair-person of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme and enjoy reading.

Response 2: I like dressing as a woman and going to nightclubs.

What are you going to do with that information?  Remember both are equally qualified for the job and it’s non-customer facing.  The only thing you can do is discriminate… either by making a judgement call about someone’s life or comparing one person against the other and not against the Job Description.

1 comment for “The viper’s pit – recruiting staff

  1. 1 October, 2012 at 09:56

    Short and absolutely to the point! I could feel the shared sense of frustration at Government inaction building as I read your article.

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