Employers should consider culture during interviews

Recruitment firms that fail to take account of the impact of cultural differences on their hiring processes are missing out on a pool of recruits.

Managing director of catering recruitment company Mayday Group, Jane Sunley, said her firm had increased the number of temps on its books by 30 per cent as a result of its race awareness programme.

Mayday overhauled its recruitment systems when internal research showed that 80 per cent of the people it turned away were from ethnic minorities. In addition, 70 per cent of the people Mayday dismissed from their jobs were also from ethnic minorities.

Sunley said the analysis showed the firm was turning people down because of problems such as an apparent lack of confidence.

"Some African people consider making eye contact to be extremely rude and so they stare at the floor in interviews," she said. "Some were dismissed for alleged surly behaviour, also caused by cultural differences."

By training recruits and addressing issues created by differences in culture, Mayday has begun to look at skills shortages in the industry. The firm also enjoys better relationships with customers.

Mayday has taken its commitment to racial equality a step further and introduced a mentoring programme for young offenders from ethnic minorities to allow them to get into the workplace.

Sunley urged companies to follow suit and sign up to the Commission for Racial Equality’s Leadership Challenge. This invites business leaders to make a personal and business action plan to promote race equality.

The initiative is due to be relaunched on 22 November after it received a lukewarm reception from the business establishment.


  • Testing applicants is the fairest way of assessing their suitability for a job, Alec Reed, managing director of Reed Personnel Service, told representatives from the recruitment industry at a CRE business breakfast.

By Richard Staines

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