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Feb 27th

Employers: Are you asking for too much information?


How much non-work related information should an employer ask for at application stage?

An interesting question on the Guardian CV clinic:

“A job application form is asking for my ‘social’ interests – what does this mean?”

(I answered it as best as I could here, btw.)

But it made me think.

Does an employer really need to know what a candidate gets up to outside work? Are you looking only for one particular type of person? (Someone who plays team sports, or someone who spends time volunteering, for example.) Does that mean you would then exclude someone whose outside interests didn’t fit the ones you wanted?

An obvious doubt about the usefulness of this type of question is whether you can tell someone’s match for the job by the things they do when they’re not working for you. And that’s leaving aside the question of whether you want to spend time doing anything meaningful / interesting after you’ve had eight hours, five days a week in the office. (I’m sure there’s more than one ideal candidate for the role who just wants to doss on the couch / have a laugh down the pub outside work.)

Or are you trying to weed out those who you feel wouldn’t fit in with the team? How do you really know that until you’ve interviewed them? And what about the fact your team might change in the future, or – as most global companies already know – you realise that diverse teams get better results?

What it looks like to me is that organisations are taking advantage of their position (more candidates than vacancies) to be unnecessarily nosy and intrusive into the personal lives of both employees and would-be employees. Either that, or they’re using dumb criteria to filter out candidates.

Photo credit: Smoorenburg

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