This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Feedback good, timewasting bad

Allowing applicants to read interview notes can be helpful for feedback and
shows good recruitment practice (News, 22 January).

Managers should be clear about the reasons for non-selection of individuals
– someone being clearly unsuitable against the criteria for the role, for
example. HR and line managers should be prepared for the recruitment process in
advance and have the selection criteria ready and clearly understood. Any notes
taken should then justify and back-up the decision for or against.

However, if candidates can ask to see the notes, there is a danger of
managers being left open to constant challenge from unsuccessful candidates,
which can be more time consuming than the interviews themselves.

In a heavy round of constant interviews, some notes are taken as a reminder
for later and it may not be helpful if the unsuccessful candidate then has the
right to read the material.

My inclination would be for HR to precis interview notes if asked for
feedback from candidates – ensuring central control – but that there should be
no ‘right’ to see the notes. This should remain the decision of the recruiting

Stephanie Bateman
HR Manager, Lease & Loan Insurance Services

Recruiting needs a personal touch

The article "Net gains" (Feature, 15 January) was excellent, but I
feel compelled to ask – where does the human element come into this vision of
online recruitment?

It is wonderful to have a totally streamlined recruitment process and vital
to have a quick turnaround for the applicants. But without human contact there
is no communication channel for applicants to offer a perfectly good reason why
they fell short of a 2:1 in their degree, or why they only want to work in the

If these answers cannot be sought, especially during a period of skills
shortages, then there is no chance of tracking down applicants with hidden

Also, what is the point of getting to the interview stage and then
discovering the candidate has no communication skills? It could happen if no
verbal exchange takes place during pre-screening. I feel, therefore, that an
automated recruitment management system, which filters applicants without human
interaction is not an intelligent way forward.

Victoria Phillpot
Managing director, Professional Pre-Selection Services

It’s not crazy, it’s relative after all

Julie Bower’s very large compensation win against Schroder Securities for
sex discrimination (News, 15 January) is a good example of relativity.

Yes, £1.5m is a crazy sum to most people, but if you work in the City and
are on £100,000 basic, potentially earning 10 times that in bonuses, it is not
really that silly a sum. It would have been ridiculous if she had earned
£15,000 – but she didn’t.

Garry Turner
Internal sales representative, Petrochem Carless

Technology is no substitute in HR

Cable & Wireless’ decision to outsource its HR functions should be a
cause for concern (News, 8 January). It is not the fact that it has chosen to
place its HR with an outside party that should awaken interest. This in itself
is not an intrinsically bad practice. Rather it is the method in which the role
is being undertaken.

The concerning aspect of this decision is that it will be driven by
technology rather than people. A call centre response service based on computer
support will never be able to match the human feel for company culture, work
issues and people. HR deals with issues that touch individuals daily lives and
emotions – there is no substitute for human response based on knowledge and

There is a great temptation to use automated systems and other forms of IT
because it is cheap and efficient. But it is extraordinarily difficult to apply
to people. You only have to consider how many consumers complain about
automated customer response services to begin to understand the problem.

Farming out the control of HR should be approached with care and employers
should be extremely cautious about relying on IT to create efficiency savings.

Stephen Humphreys
Managing director, Projectlink

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