Interview discrimination and how to combat it

  Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, discusses how interview discrimination in the engineering sector can be addressed.

Concerning new statistics from CV-Library have revealed that one in four (23.9 per cent) engineering professionals have experienced discrimination during an interview. Sadly, for over a third of these (35.3 per cent), this was because of their age, though this was not the only given reason.

It’s clear that a huge number of UK engineers are being affected by these types of prejudices and employers within the industry have an important role to play when it comes to ensuring a fair interview process. For organisations in the sector, here’s what you can do to avoid interview discrimination taking place in your business, and why it’s so important.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Age was not the only factor that engineers felt had cost them an interview. In fact, 17.6 per cent said they had been judged based on their gender, one of highest percentages of any UK sector. A further 6 per cent said they were discriminated against based on their race, because of their relationship status (5.9 per cent) and due to their disabilities (5.8 per cent).

It’s worrying to see that so many professionals are being judged by the above factors, but especially those in the engineering sector, which already suffers from a notorious gender divide.  It’s vital that something is done if the industry wishes to begin bridging the gap (gender and all other aspects included) and creating a strong pipeline of talented engineers.

Ensure you promote fairness

It was also concerning to learn that over half of engineers (52.8 per cent) don’t know their rights when it comes to interview discrimination, making it even more crucial for employers in the sector to remain fair. One way to do this is through follow up emails or phone calls post-interview. This gives the candidate a platform to speak out if they believe they experienced prejudice during their interview and provides you with an opportunity to rectify this.

It can be all too easy to make a snap judgment these days and one way that you can eliminate the temptation to pre-judge a candidate is through screening interviews over the phone. This is a great chance to get to know a bit about the candidate before inviting them in for a face-to-face meeting.

Other ways that you can avoid discrimination occurring is through proper training and rules for those who are conducting your interviews. Whether you do your recruitment in-house or through an agency, 34.7 per cent of engineers agreed that the best way to solve the problem is with better training for interviewers. As well as this, a third (33 per cent) agree that there should be a set list of questions that interviewers should ask, and a list of questions they aren’t allowed to ask candidates. This will help to ensure all candidates are given a fair chance.

Alongside this, simply raising awareness of the issue is a great step towards stamping out the problem. Through taking these actions and ensuring that interviewers are well prepared and know what they should and shouldn’t ask, we are creating awareness around the situation and can begin to tackle it.

Think of the end result

At the end of the day, you’re looking for the most qualified candidate and someone who is going to fit in well with your company culture. Not only could interview discrimination land you in trouble, but it could also cost you a talented new team member. Keeping the end result firmly in the forefront of your mind during the interview process will help you to ask the right questions and avoid pre-judging a potentially great candidate.

Kick-start your engineering career with The Engineer Jobs