I’m not allowed to ask what I want to ask of prospective employees in job interviews. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I have just joined a large organisation in a senior position and I am interviewing for new members of staff.

You might find this incredible, or it might give you a laugh, but I have just found out that: one, the woman from HR sits in on the interview; two, the woman from HR writes the questions; and, three, I can’t deviate from the questions because apparently that is unfair to other candidates who have not had similar experience or something.

I was actually so incredulous I couldn’t properly hear what was being explained to me but it was something about diversity. Anyway, as a female of Indian and Irish descent, diversity is not a major issue in my book, but finding the right person is.

Any tips on what to do in this situation? The idea of asking every candidate general questions like “tell me about a time you offered great customer service” and not being able to look at their CV and ask them specific questions based on their experience makes me want to curl up in a ball and weep.

It also has another major drawback. I am filling several positions and would like to tweak the jobs based on the CV and skills that are presented to me. But I can’t do that if I have to ask the same silly questions to everyone.

Fed up before I have even really got started…

Vic

 

Dear Fed Up,

On your knees. Come on! All you owners and managers of small businesses, especially those doing it tough, get on your knees. I mean it.

Stop whatever you are doing, hop down on the carpet or your groovy floor boards and clasp your hands together as if in prayer. And say out loud: Thank you (insert Aunty B, God, the universe or your own name depending on belief). I don’t have to work where Fed Up works, which probably make a lot of sense when dealing with dysfunctional cultures that are essentially stupid.

Then contemplate for a moment your own freedom to make your own decisions, ask your own questions and hire your own people. Cheered you right up, haven’t I? Cheered me up, too.

As for you Fed Up, you sound like a very smart woman. So the first thing to do is find out how everyone gets around this silly rule that, of course, is put in place for the very sound reason to stop all the old, white blokes hiring in their own image and wrecking the joint.

Find another smart woman like yourself in management and ask her for tips to manage the recruiting process better. Do the rounds and I am sure you will pick up various ways to handle the situation. I asked one of my friends in a big business what she does and she says she always makes sure the HR person isn’t present when she interviews and she takes the risk and asks whatever she wants.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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