Know your rights - 5 things hiring managers can't do
Interviewing for a job can be nerve-wracking. It can be even worse when employers discriminate. In Singapore, any company that is suspected of discriminatory recruitment activities will be investigated by the Ministry of Manpower and put on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list. 350 companies have already been reported as a result of noncompliance with the Tripartite Guidelines.
Hiring processes are more important than we think and job seekers should equip themselves with the knowledge of what is and is not discriminatory behaviour. To assist, we’ve gathered 5 things that are red flags the company you’re interviewing with is crossing a line.
Interview questions that are too personal
A pregnant lady or disabled man should be given equal rights to any job opportunity as long as they have the right qualifications. Interview questions concerning family members, marital status, disability or religion should not be asked, especially if none of those topics are relevant to the job role you’re interviewing for. If you are asked a question about any of these things, politely let the interviewer know that you would prefer not to answer and would rather focus on your qualifications and the position.
Preferring a specific demographic
Whether you found the job opening advertised on a job board or through someone in your network, if at any point in the job description or interview there’s a statement of preference to a specific nationality, age, race, religion, language, gender, marital status or presence of family responsibilities, that is blatant discrimination, even if their preferences describe you. Not one of these characteristics should be used as a criterion for job suitability, unless justified as a requirement for the employee’s ability to satisfy the job. Employees should only be considered on the basis of merit – skills, experience or ability to perform the job.
Publishing job advertisements with vague descriptions
Selection criteria should be stated clearly in the job advertisements and should primarily be related to qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience. Employers should avoid using words or phrases in the job advertisements that could be perceived as discriminatory.
Learning to watch out for discriminatory terms is necessary, but it’s important to also identify when these distinctions are necessary: for example, physically demanding jobs might require able-bodied individuals, and an employer stating that is being realistic, not discriminatory. That said, any job descriptions that include phrases such as these should also include the legal or regulatory requirements of the position so that there is no confusion about whether they are discriminating.
Assessing your eligibility based on your measure of commitment
There are many ways an interview can be conducted. Whether it’s a video call, a phone call or face-to-face, an interview can sometimes start with or develop into a light-hearted conversation in which you are asked about your future plans. Companies might see a candidate that does not have any plans in the near future as a better employee in the long run as they have a better probability of staying committed to the job – but as it happens, it’s discriminatory to ask this kind of question since any future personal plans you may have should not affect your eligibility for the job.
Any form of threat
The hiring manager you speak with should not suggest that you might fail the interview or that they would have to give the job to another candidate if you don’t fit any requirements that suggest discrimination. These types of threats are sometimes subtle and phrased as kind suggestions that would help you do better at the interview. But unless properly justified is not a suggestion – it’s a threat. Other types of threats include implied notions that any reward should be withheld if the employee did not alter their future plans or declare something differently, to name a few examples.
Just as much as we should avoid making mistakes during an interview, a hiring manager should also practice fair recruitment. If you notice any discriminatory job advertisements or nationality-related discriminatory employment practices, you can approach the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).