Job Vacancy – Read Twitter!

07 March 2019

The memory of the summer holidays are long over. And, as a full working year looms, some employees will consider looking for opportunities elsewhere.

There may be many motives to contemplate change. More pay or new career challenges, for example, a promotion. Or, the motive, as the common social media catchphrases go, might be that an employee leaves their boss, not the organisation – seeking neither money nor career advancement, but simply respect.

And a departing employee will attend interviews as part of the mutual process to determine suitability for a new role. One such employee attended an interview on 28 January 2019 in the north of England. She received a job offer as a communications assistant. After initially saying ‘yes’, the first class honours graduate then declined the offer. Why?

To put the reasons in the candidate’s own words:

…nobody should come out of a job interview feeling so upset that they cry at the bus stop.

In a widely published account, the 22-year-old woman explains how the interviewer, the CEO of a web application company, commenced with comments on her musical tastes found in her Spotify account, asking whether her parents were still together, and generally put her personally and her skills down during a “… brutal …” two-hour interview.

The candidate concluded the interviewer was:

“… a man who tries his best to intimidate and assert power over a young woman…”

The candidate circulated her interview experience on Twitter the following day, publishing her reasons for refusing the job offer. A media storm ensued in England not only on social media, but also in more traditional media such as women’s magazines, national newspapers, television and radio reports. The company published a defence in response, stating after an internal investigation that no bullying had occurred. While one national newspaper was unsympathetic to the candidate’s experience, overall the media was supportive of her.

The encounter demonstrates, whatever the truth and actual merits of what had occurred, that social media is a powerful prism on an event that a generation ago could not have disseminated beyond the candidate’s immediate social circle.

Websites such as glassdoor that publish guides to assist potential employees on how to identify and avoid potentially bad employers are now part of the growing social media scrutiny that employers are exposed to.

Responding to a disgruntled employee live on social media with a threat of defamation proceedings just seems to miss the point. An employee with a modest income cannot compensate financially for the damage done, and a legal threat will only amplify the perception that an employer is to be avoided.

Perhaps more than any legal obligations arising in the recruitment process, for example, on an employer to ask only job-related questions, and not have any discriminatory criteria, the spotlight of social media may prove a greater incentive than the law, to do what good employers (the majority) already do! And that is, know that the recruitment process is regulated by various employment laws, and then comply.

And something which requires no legal training, act respectfully towards all candidates, whatever their flaws.

And if it all goes shockingly wrong, sound legal advice and insightful media awareness must be called upon.