Friday, 11 November 2022

Seeing no evil


Recruitment processes vary greatly. In the public sector particularly, great emphasis is placed on fairness and transparency, and recruiters are often advised to discard all previous knowledge of the applicants, even in the case of internal applicants, and to base their decision solely on the application form and interview. This has long struck me as being potentially more than a little dangerous – if there is information which is known which might make a candidate unsuitable for appointment, choosing to ignore that information because it wasn’t mentioned on the application form and didn’t arise in response to interview questions can lead to a silly appointment. The private sector often works rather differently, as a result of which there can sometimes be a lack of transparency.

There is one appointment process which appears to be utterly unique, however, and that is the process by which a Tory Prime Minister appoints his or her cabinet. Apparently, the standard response to a suggestion from a close aide that “There may be a serious problem in appointing X” is not to ask for more information as any rational person would be likely to do, but to say something along the lines of “Tell me no more – I’m going to appoint X anyway, and I want to be able to deny that I ever knew any details of the problem”. What it really tells us is that the biggest problem of all is appointing one of the three brass monkeys to the highest post in the land. And that the Tory Party has an apparently limitless supply of brass monkeys.


Gav said...

A quite remarkable absence of due diligence across the board, from awarding COVID contracts right through to appointing members of the Cabinet. Might suggest an almost wilful lack of competence.

dafis said...

Public sector appointments in my time, 10 or more years ago, relied on asking the same question of all candidates interviewed ! Adherents of that misguided sense of "fairness" missed the entire point of interviews particularly the need to scrutinise how the candidates' backgrounds, experience, attitudinal mix and any other relevant factors fitted the needs of the role to be filled. Asking the same question seldom did the job whereas asking questions that probed the key requirements of the post would provide better outcomes. And we wonder why so many duds wander around in the senior exec space of the public sector.