Recruitment versus dismissal

Before I start this week’s blog, I just wanted to point out that last month there were 795 people who read my blog on the Jaluch website. But none of you left any feedback or comments! Cat got your tongue? All sensible thought flown straight out of your head? Typing fingers broken after a tussle with the photocopier? I’m desperately trying not to feel like Billy No Mates here so come on, I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas! Please leave them at the end of this blog!

It’s an old adage that we recruit for skills and experience, but dismiss for behaviour and attitude. But how is it that we never learn our lessons?

The answer of course is that we have been so focussed on process and procedure, and objectivity rather than subjectivity for so many years that little space has been left during the recruitment process for common sense, gut instinct and the wisdom some of us attain after 20 or more years in business.

In fact, we often say that common sense and gut instinct have no part to play in the recruitment decisions we make. Instead good decisions are made on the basis of evidence and fact. All good in theory, but the reality is that we recruit on demonstrable skills and experience, but further down the line continue to dismiss for behaviour and attitude!

There is of course a process and procedure to follow when dismissing, but unlike the recruitment process which centres around asking all candidates the same questions and scoring answers and qualifications etc. the dismissal process centres around numbers of meetings, rights of accompaniment, rights to appeal and who should be conducting the meetings etc. rather than the rationale for the dismissal. In fact Employment Tribunals have repeatedly been reminded that they have no authority for assessing the reasons for dismissal, simply the process and reasonableness of the dismissal.

Given that this is an ongoing problem for almost all organisations (bar those who never dismiss anyone due to fear of litigation or lack of confidence in managing staff generally), there are three choices:

  1. Accept that you will waste money by recruiting some of the wrong people, however, by continuing with the rigid process and procedural approach to recruitment you will avoid any unnecessary discrimination or other claims by applicants.
  2. Decide that you need to be brave enough within the organisation to allow for a degree of individual decision making by trained and respected managers, in order to balance process and procedural requirements at recruitment stage with the use of common sense, gut instinct and wisdom.
  3. Throw the processes and procedures out of the window as far as possible and instead focus on developing competent, knowledgeable and confident managers who will do their best to recruit the right staff who will be great at their role, a good team fit and who are unlikely to have to be dismissed on behaviour or attitude.

Finally: it takes a brave organisation in today’s world to operate outside the comfort of processes and procedures. It takes a brave manager to challenge an organisation on how money is being wasted as a result of too much focus on process and procedure. But what are the long term repercussions for an organisation if risk aversion and a reliance on process and procedure are held in higher regard than wisdom, critical thinking and the application of common sense?

Thoughts? Comments, ideas… all welcomed.  

Wanting to up the confidence of your line managers? Jaluch has training for that and it will be money well spent!

Wanting to dismiss some of those recruitment mistakes? Jaluch has a team of experienced advisors ready and able to work with you on getting difficult staff out of the team.

Contact us today!

5 replies added

  1. Shailesh 20 February, 2014 Reply

    Excellent article but how do you identify those that have the “right” attitude and behaviour – some guidance on how interviewing can reveal these would be useful.

    • Helen 24 February, 2014 Reply

      Hi Shailesh

      Thanks for your comment too. I have lots of ideas about how you can seek to understand someone’s attitude and behaviour. Far too much to include here, but perhaps I could cover this topic in an HR Blast in a few weeks time.

      Just as a taster though: here are two of my tips:

      1. We often see arrogant or rude behaviour shown towards admin. staff when setting up interviews or towards reception staff when arriving for interview. But usually there is nothing on the recruitment form/checklist that enables you to penalise them for this. I recommend you include in your scoring/checklist a mark for attitude and behaviour demonstrated towards those arranging/managing interviews.

      2. Applicants often fail to take seriously telephone interviews therefore these are brilliant for sorting the wheat from the chaff in terms of attitude and behaviours before ever inviting anyone in. At Jaluch we always recommend telephone interviews as a stage one interview. Typically the behaviours we see include:
      a)shoddy preparation for telephone interviews;
      b)poor timekeeping (ie they are not there when you call at the pre arranged time);
      c)unprofessional behaviour or more specifically, lack of awareness of what professional behaviour actually is eg taking the call in the pub when they know when you are going to call or even flushing the toilet mid interview – yes it has been done!;
      d) candidates who can’t even remember what company you are calling from or what job they applied for – usually as a result of having pinged off so many cvs to so many organisations without giving any of them any thought whatsoever

      Hope some of these help


      • Jill 20 March, 2014 Reply

        Dear Helen and Shailesh,

        I always tend to ask staff who have had any contact with the applicant what their opinion is/was; whether this staff member be the one opening the door to them, or getting refreshment for them – it’s always useful!

        Thanks Helen for some brilliant articles.


  2. Pam Linzey-Jones 20 February, 2014 Reply

    Hi Helen
    Just wanted to say thank you for your updates I find them really useful and they tackle very interesting and sometimes difficult subjects in a no nonsense way.

    Kind regards

    • Helen 22 February, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Pam. Your comments are much appreciated and I’m very glad you find my blogs of interest. Please do get in touch if there are topics of particular interest to you. Jaluch supports over 300 organisations and this often gives me lots of ideas to draw on when writing and its great to share the learning around.

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