Reader responses: B&Q dancing at interviews row

Letter of the week: Strictly Come Dancing has no place in recruitment process

Wow – what a legal minefield. There is age discrimination – I wasn’t even born when Blame it on the Boogie was released race discrimination – as an Irish man, my dancing is more Michael Flatley than Michael Jackson and, of course, on a more serious note, I’m surprised no-one has considered the implications for disabled applicants.

As a recruiter, I am well aware of the importance of putting candidates at ease to ensure optimum performance during the interview. But the problem with this ice-breaker is that it may actually have the opposite effect, causing embarrassment and discomfort. It also has no face validity, as it bears no relevance to the actual job.

The CIPD’s response is staggering, suggesting this is a way “of checking that people have the right attitude to fit in with the company’s culture”. I don’t know whether anyone has actually tested the reliability of this selection tool, but I would imagine it is down there with astrology and tea leaves.

Shane Lynch
Workforce information manager, Hertfordshire County Council

Culture of fun is one of B&Q’s best selling points

As an ex-employee of B&Q, perhaps I can make an informed contribution to the recent ‘dancing at job interviews’ debate.

Like many retail outfits, B&Q is a high energy, fast-moving organisation that can be both physically and emotionally demanding to work for. It has its faults (tell me a large company that doesn’t), but one of its many positives is its open, fun and down-to-earth culture.

Dancing at interviews may seem strange to an outsider, but may be a good way to break the ice in a manner that is in line with the values of the company. Such methods were used many times in stores to create a fun atmosphere – or even to liven up hard-going meetings. It was always appreciated by staff when senior managers, including directors, got involved, showing that they were not stuffy, and were part of the team.

It may not be for everyone, but for organisations with such a culture, I can understand the benefits of a ‘bit of a boogie’.

James Greaves
Senior HR adviser, Faithful+Gould

Dance move looks good on paper but fails in practice

I was taught on a recent CIPD course that one clear recommendation for designing exercises for assessment centres, or other recruitment and selection events, was that all tasks must be relevant to the role and its competencies. Which competency does dancing relate to? B&Q was not, I assume, recruiting children’s entertainers or hosts for holiday camps.

While it might have some (questionable) value as an ice-breaker, it’s worth remembering most people won’t even get up on a dance floor totally sober with friends and relations, let alone potential colleagues and employers. This is simply an example of something that looked like a good idea on paper, but is an embarrassing failure in practice.

No candidate should be humiliated during the recruitment process, but this is clearly what has happened here. I find it hard to believe that the CIPD would support this.

Maryanne Fleming
Chartered MCIPD

‘Boogie-ing’ discriminates against different cultures

I was surprised to find that a diversity-aware company such as B&Q is using dance as a part of its selection process. Even more shocking was the support it was given by the CIPD, which ought to know better, given its role to lead by example.

Both organisations would be well advised to bear in mind that groups such as Muslims are often discouraged from participating in dance and music. As for other cultural groups, they may well dance, but it may not be to the same music as mainstream society.

While it is necessary to be creative in the recruitment and selection process, it is important to ensure that the methods chosen are inclusive and fair to all groups.

Karamat Iqbal
Diversity consultant, The Forward Partnership

Ice-breakers should not be a humiliating experience

Although I can see the point behind this tactic, I think it would make some applicants even more nervous than they were before they arrived at the interview. Some people just don’t like to dance, let alone in a situation where they are already under stress.

The theory behind the principle is good, but couldn’t a different type of ice-breaker be used? Word games are a good way of relaxing people without making them feel silly.

Kathrine Kemsley, HR supervisor

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