By Paul Levy
Scene 1 – Way Down
- At interview informed by the candidate that they are a manic depressive – interviewer not sure what to say and how to react
Shauna – Augustine
Scene – an interview, towards the end
Shauna: Any hobbies and interests?
Deborah: I enjoy theatre, though it can be quite expensive in Brighton.
Shauna: Have you ever performed on the stage? Presentation skills are a big part of this job.
Deborah: Well, not since College really. We did The Crucible by Arthur Miller. But I don’t mind speaking in public. All my previous jobs have involved that.
Deborah: There is just one thing.
Deborah: It’s a bit awkward really.
Shauna: That’s ok. This is completely confidential. Take your time.
Deborah: Well, over the last two years I have had two bouts of depression.
Shauna: Oh, I didn’t see that mentioned on your application form.
Deborah: Yes, I know. It has only just been officially diagnosed. I only got the diagnosis from my Doctor on Tuesday last week.
Shauna: I see.
Deborah: I have never had more than a day off work and the doctor has prescribed me a course of tablets which I am to take at the first signs of a recurrence.
Shauna: Oh… what kind of signs?
Deborah: Well, my depression can be known as “manic depression”; I can get very fixated on doing things. But the doctor assured me the medication will alleviate that and it shouldn’t affect my work.
Shauna: I see.
Deborah: You can follow up the references I gave you. You won’t find any complaints there.
Scene 2 – Font Size
- Candidate at interview announces that they have poor vision and need reasonable adjustments, the interviewer is somewhat phased and goes through all the possible adjustments that could be made – it turns out the candidate just needs bigger text on screen – a simple question asked at the beginning would have ensured a speedy answer.
Karen – Jane
Sarah – Augustine
Karen is talking to Sarah
Karen: So I’ve skim-read the CV once more just to be sure and then I take her through the on-screen simulation exercise, when she suddenly announces she has poor vision. You know, something that glasses can’t correct.
Sarah: Wasn’t it mentioned on her application?
Karen: I am sure it was. But did anyone bother to tell me?
Sarah: So, what happened then?
Karen: Well, I pull the blinds down a bit ‘cos the sun is blaring in and I get Steve to move the PC close to the edge of the desk. They weigh a ton. Also I let her sit where I usually sit so she is facing the screen head on, if you know what I mean. And she is looking really unhappy!
Karen: She says she made it clear on her application that all she needs is a larger font size on the screen and she is fine.
Sarah: Oh. Well, we have a policy don’t we. And some kind of guidelines and protocols for setting screen resolution and stuff.
Karen: She asked why I wasn’t briefed on it.
Sarah: Well. Why weren’t you?
Karen: I was on leave when they ran the session!
Karen: Still, bigger text or not, I think she’ll be trouble if you ask me.
Sarah: How did she do on the simulation test?
Karen: Near perfect – 97%.
Scene 3 – Prayer Space
- A job interview all about diversity
Mahkameh – Jane
Manager – Augustine
Mahkameh Pashazadeh, a Muslim woman enters the office for her initial interview and is greeted by the Manager
Mahkameh: Good morning.
Manager: Hello. It’s (consults list) Mackymee Pazdada?
Mahkameh: Mahkameh Pashazadeh,
Manager: Oh I think we are all going to have difficulties with that name. Do you mind if I call you Mac?
Mahkameh looks uncomfortable but smiles anyway
Manager: Well, make yourself comfortable.
Mahkameh: Thank you.
Manager: So I have your updated CV in front of me. I see you went to school in Tehran?
Manager: So your qualifications are Iranian?
Mahkameh: I did my exams in Iran, yes.
Manager: We did say we wanted GCSE English.
Mahkameh: Yes I realise that but you will see I have a degree in English at Tehran University.
Manager: Would you say that your degree was of GCSE standard?
Mahkameh: (She laughs and says) Oh, I would think so, and of course you will note I am also fluent in French, Spanish and Italian.
Manager: Are there any questions, that you need to ask me? Feel free to ask.
Mahkameh: Indeed. Yes I need to know whether there is space for prayers.
Mahkameh: I need to pray at certain times during the day. I am a Muslim.
Manager: You are?
Mahkameh: Yes. Prayer is an important part of my faith.
Manager: I didn’t know. Well I mean, of course I know, it’s just I didn’t know… the interview didn’t.. Anyway… what exactly does it involve?
Mahkameh: Just a little space and there are set times. I brought a leaflet…
(Mahkameh reaches into her bag and produces a leaflet)
Manager: Er… thank you. I am sorry, I had no idea…that…
Mahkameh: That a Muslim needs to pray? Oh. I mentioned my religion both on the application form and during the interview.
Manager: Well… er.. perhaps you can let my P.A know exactly what you need and we can go from there. I suppose the one good thing is that you won’t be wanting time off at Christmas?
Mahkameh: Well I have school age children and I will need some time off because it is the school holidays.
Manager: Ah yes… well thank you for coming. We’ll be in touch.
Scene 4 Reading the Signs
- Informed at interview that candidate has dyslexia. Manger is not sure about what to say but does not ask what adjustments the candidate might require. If psychometric testing is involved how much do you take on trust what the candidate says, or do you go ask for an occupational health opinion as to what additional timings might be involved.
Tina – Augustine
Dawn – Jane
Tina: Thank you for returning to a second interview for the post of coffee shop assistant manager. Now, first question: how are your mathematical skills?
Dawn: I am very good with figures in fact I like puzzling things out. Actually I am a bit of a Soduku addict.
Tina: My son is mad on that. Personally, I haven’t a clue what it’s all about.
Dawn: Well, I’ve been told I have a good head for problem solving.
Tina: Well that is always a good thing in a big company. We will be carrying out some psychometric tests.
Dawn: Oh. Written ones?
Tina: Yes, why do you ask ?
Dawn: I am dyslexic.
Tina: Oh. I see.
Dawn: Quite severely really. Its why I am attracted to this work as it is virtually all face to face.
Tina: Yes. Well I am sure you will perform well in the test
Dawn: If you look at my CV you can see I was promoted in several very challenging jobs. I think they demonstrate my intellectual abilities. I made team leader twice in less than a year. I can do tests, I am just a bit slower. I’d need more time.
Tina: Well I was hoping to get the test done along with the interview today.
(Tina looks at her watch)
Dawn: Well, as I said, I should be okay if I have a bit more time for the questions.
(Tina dials a number on her phone. There is no answer)
Tina: Damn, Occupational Health are out and about. Well, let’s see how it goes shall we?
Dawn: Alright. I’m game!
Tina: How much longer would you need?
Dawn: Are you sure that your Occupational Health Team won’t want to assess me?
Tina: No. I don’t think that is necessary.
Dawn: Do you think that psychometric testing is essential for this role?
Tina: Well we do need to know which type of personality you have and how you solve problems.
Dawn: Couldn’t you just ask me that and let me give you a verbal response?
Tina: (Finishing response) No, that is not how it has been done before and I can’t make a special exception for you. I can’t be seen to positively discriminate.
Scene 5 Promoting the Right Person
A woman is attending an interview for promotion from Assistant Manager to Manager and is attending the interview. Questions are asked which are irrelevant, which leads to the Company being open to claims of discrimination if the person is not offered the job.
Rachel – Jane
Rebecca – Augustine
Rachel is talking to Rebecca
Rachel: I am really not sure about promoting Jemma to this position. She was really prickly when I talked to her about her responsibilities at home.
Rebecca: What do you mean, “prickly”?
Rachel: Well, I asked her whether she was intending having children in the next few years.
Rebecca: Well, that was direct. Do you think that was a good idea?
Rachel: Well, the last two people in that post left because they wanted to stay at home with their children.
Rachel (conspiratorially): Well, she told me that she is entering a civil partnership in December and her and her partner have not actually decided who is going to have the baby when they decide to do this.
Rachel: I didn’t realize she was gay! A lot of our clients are very conventional you know and I don’t think they would appreciate having a gay Customer Relations Manager.
Rebecca: Can I have a look at the interview notes?
Rachel: Well I didn’t keep notes as such.
Rebecca: I see.. Well tell me about the other candidates.
Rachel: In any case I don’t think she is the strongest candidate. One of the people I interviewed, Gregory, gave a great interview and would obviously relate very well to our MD’s.
Rebecca: Is he is not a weaker candidate on paper? Hasn’t he only recently joined us straight from college?
Rachel: Well yes. But he is my first choice.
1 What is the key legal issue
2 How would you advise the employer ?
3 What is the possible outcome of this scene?
Do we want to deal with indirect and direct discrimination, this is after all a presentation by Employment Solicitors?
We need ideas as to whether we will prepare answer sheets setting out the legal implications of each scene, the relevant law and solutions.