This week’s letters

Instinctive selection leads to bad choices

I was saddened but not surprised to read your brief article on selection
interviewing (News, 20 May).

At a time when we need to select the best people and foster diversity in the
workplace, it is increasingly unacceptable to employ people simply because they
are like us. Yet this research tells us that more than 20 per cent of employers
still use ‘gut reaction’ to make recruitment decisions.

Other research suggests HR professionals have more confidence in interview
results than tests or questionnaires, even though all the evidence tells us the
careful use of objective selection methods – such as structured interviews and
psycho- metric tests – can result in better and fairer recruitment decisions.

The ‘I can spot them as soon as they walk through the door’ approach should
have had its day.

John Hackston
Managing consultant, research & development, OPP

Left puzzled by Q&A author’s conclusion

I would like to comment on the Legal Q&A on the information and
consultation directive (Legal, 20 May).

Beyond the unnecessary and negative comments the article makes about the
role of trade unions in the new arrangements, I was puzzled by the author’s
answer to the question: What does the ‘default model’ works council require of

His answer suggests that the definition of consultation, and therefore the
requirements of consultation, differ with the subject matter on which
consultation will be required.

The DTI is expected to issue a consultation document, including draft
legislation, later this year. Even so, the actual text of the directive remains
the best and only source for clarification on a point such as this.

Looking at the text, it does not appear to make any of the distinctions that
the author presents.

I would like to know how the author reached such a conclusion?

Robert Stevens
Research and information manager, Involvement & Participation Association

Fun training days can miss the point

I was intrigued to see the focus on the ‘pole’ exercise in your feature
about VW’s apprenticeship scheme and its effect on attitude and confidence
(News, 27 May).

The danger of focusing on such activities is that they can lead participants
to remember the activity, rather than its significance in a work environment.
They remember they had a good time, but not the reason why.

Effective learning includes physical activity, but it has to have a purpose,
which the participants must remember to ensure it is applied back at work, to
avoid it being a waste of time.

Bill Esterson
Leaps and Bounds (Training)

Achievement should be based on merit

Can someone please explain to me why the police fitness test is unfair?

Surely if you want a career in the police then you need to be able to
achieve all the targets, which would include achieving the fitness test (News,
27 May).

This country seems to be insisting on changing things so that more people
can achieve – in other words, making things easy. I would like to think that my
local police officer, male or female, has the ability to run after a criminal
at some speed.

I would also like to mention the bonus scheme for introducing staff from an
ethnic minority group to the force. Why do we insist on segregating ethnic
minorities by putting them in a special category? Individual targets state we
should have x-per cent of staff from an ethnic minority group, but does this
mean that if the ideal candidate for the job is not from that group, we cannot
recruit them?

Surely such targets are a form of discrimination? Regardless of religion,
colour and creed, if you want a job and you are the best person for that job,
then you should get it on merit alone.

Vicky Traynor
HR, payroll & compliance, Linecross

Equality is no longer common practice

I feel I must write in support of John Spartan’s letter (Letters, 20 May).

I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiment that equal opportunities no longer
exist, to the extent that equality is not common practice and positive discrimination
is now much more the ‘norm’.

Even though I am a female HR professional, I also feel excluded from
‘family-friendly’ policies, as I’m a co-habiter with no ‘dependents’.

Why should employees with ‘family’ have precedence in rights to request
flexible working over those who don’t? And why, as Mr Spartan points out,
should men fall into second place with the likes of paternity leave?

While there is no doubt a need in some sectors – such as engineering – to
overcome bias and make it ‘equal’ in attractiveness and opportunity for
females, I completely support the view that the same is required for men in
other sectors, such as nursing.

Unfortunately, while soundbites and headline-grabbing by politicians who
should be able to influence the state of play are the main drivers, true
equality can only be imagined.

Valerie McCluskie
Independent HR adviser

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