Skip to main content

Why choose us?

Psychometric profiles are provided on all candidates to ensure they have the traits to succeed in your business.

Ethical Practice When Interviewing

The importance of ethical practices when interviewing

Now more than ever, companies are being scrutinised for their ethical practices and barely a week goes by without an expose of a company's misdeeds towards their employees.

As such, the workforce is significantly more aware of what isn't acceptable behaviour in the workplace, and this starts with your interview process.

Ethics in interviewing isn't just important in helping your business recruit the best candidate; it is also a matter of legality. There are specific criteria that it is illegal to base employment decisions upon, and it could cost you and your company unnecessary time, money and negative press if you aren't clued up on how to implement ethics into your interviews and recruitment process.

This article will guide you through some of the most common mistakes employers can make in the interview process so you can avoid them.

Unconscious bias, what is it and how can you avoid it?

Naturally, as an employer, you would never enter an interview situation intending to conduct it with a bias towards one candidate or another based on anything but their ability to fulfil the role in question.

However, the human mind is a complex entity, and your 'unconscious bias could sabotage your ability to implement ethics in interviewing'. Unconscious bias is where, without thinking, we naturally favour people like ourselves and can, again unwittingly, discriminate against those we perceive as "different".

'Unconscious bias' could be as simple as this person looks like me, dresses like me and acts like me. Therefore, as I am good at my job, they must be equally good. Unintentionally, you could be unfairly favouring them over others. 

Similarly, 'unconscious bias' could make you base decisions upon things such as the candidate's social background, education, even down to what football team they support and the fact that they've recently holidayed at the place where you took the family last Easter.

Having an unconscious bias does not make you a terrible person. It's in the name: it's unconscious, so it does not mean you are actively choosing to discriminate. But, to conduct an ethical interview, you should be aware of it and be prepared to put in place processes to mitigate against it.

You can combat unconscious bias in interviews in four key ways:

Firstly, by keeping the conversation relevant to the situation. When meeting a new person, it is natural to try and find common ground, but this isn't a social event; it's an interview. There will be plenty of time for friendly sports chat at office socials later down the line. In the interview process, try to keep your mind on the goal at hand, finding the best candidate for the role and your business.

Secondly, and this might seem obvious, be conscious of your unconscious bias. Question why you warm to one candidate over another and be sure that it isn't because you are letting unconscious bias get the better of you.  

Thirdly, decide on what tangible skills, qualities, experience, and attributes you are looking for before you start interviewing by having a defined person specification and interview and solely benchmark candidates using this criterion.

Lastly, involve other people in your recruitment process and discuss 'unconscious bias' with your follow interviewers beforehand so that you are all aware of the impact it can have upon your decision-making abilities. The best way to mitigate against bias is merely to score independently and then justify to your fellow interviewers exactly why you scored applicants in certain areas higher or lower than others.

What are the Common 'trip-ups' and what is 'indirect discrimination'?

You should not ask many questions in interviews (see Interview questions that employers are not allowed to ask).

Asking an interviewee, particularly a woman, if they have children can seem like an innocuous conversation starter; you may have children of your own and are innocently looking to garner some common ground between yourself and the interviewee. However, this simple question is a minefield for ethical interviewing practices and is one of several common trip-ups.

Asking a woman if she plans to have children is discriminatory on several levels and is an 'off-limits topic' for interviewers in most countries.

Indirect discrimination tends to be more subtle than direct discrimination, and many hiring managers have found themselves in 'hot water' by asking what they perceive to be innocent questions. Perhaps an icebreaker such as 'you've got a great accent, where were you raised?' An interviewee can rightly interpret this as a form of race or nationality discrimination, and while it may seem like a simple, innocent question, it can make candidates feel unwelcome and may contribute to unconscious bias in the recruitment process.

Other unwise conversation starters include marital status, place of birth and age. These questions can all be linked to the EU terms "protected characteristics", which is discriminatory and against equality laws. Protected characteristics include age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race and religion, as well as marital status and pregnancy.

Thinking back to avoiding unconscious bias, other good topics to avoid are: "Where did you go to school?", "Why didn't you go to university?", "How do you feel about the current Prime Minister?"; questions like these can feed your conscious or unconscious biases and sabotage your interview ethics.

Can you use AI in a recruitment process?

One possible way to enhance ethical recruitment practices is using artificial intelligence in the hiring process. Already in use by some major companies in the UK and US, incorporating artificial intelligence into the interview process is being mooted as a way to remove the barrier of unconscious bias and promote more diverse and fair hiring practices.

However, when Amazon tried to use AI in its recruitment process, it turned out that the computer developed its own bias towards hiring men ('The Telegraph', 10th October 2018). AI may have an important role to play in ethical interview practices of the future, but there are more immediate and accessible ways for employers to implement good interview practices in the present.

Other forward-thinking companies redact or remove certain information from CVs before passing it through to hiring managers. This includes censoring data such as the name, place of education, date of birth, address, any gender-specific pronouns such as 'his' or' her', work history before a decade ago, and so forth so that any potential unconscious bias is removed before the shortlisting stage.

Processes to put in place for your business now

If you're looking to improve or protect your company's ethical practices when recruiting, it is worth looking towards the public sector for advice. Recruitment in the public sector tends to follow a much more formal process than the private sector and, as such, provides resources to staff that clearly state how to conduct interviews ethically. 

Four things that the public sector tends to do better than the private sector when recruiting are:

  1. Working through a planned recruitment process and checklist.
  2. Devising a detailed person specification before sourcing applicants.
  3. Involving more than two decision-makers into every recruitment process – often from different departments and with different 'agendas'.
  4. Have a process based upon scoring candidates on evidence or logic, such as competency-based interviewing or combining competency and values-based interviewing techniques.

Follow the above model and make sure all your staff is on the same page regarding the interview process. Education is vital here to avoid interview malpractice and be sure to keep team members up to date on the do's and don'ts of ethical interviewing.

Recommended Action Point: Creating a simple "rules of interviewing" one-page resource for employees could be a significant first step to upping the ethical interviewing credentials of your company.

Employer Advice Categories

Navigate our other Employers Advice categories by clicking the following icons:

Date published: 6th March 2024

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
 
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

Please call us to discuss your vacancy

Milton Keynes

Birmingham

Bristol

Our employers say...

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

Sophie did a great job at understanding our business and our needs, she is extremely professional and we hugely benefitted from her experience and expertise.

HR Manager, The Data Privacy Group Ltd

I could not suggest anything I would like you to do better. The service you provided materially exceeded my expectations. I would especially like to commend Simon Bonner; he is easily the best recruitment consultant I have ever dealt with. I particularly valued his advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process. 

UK Sales Manager, BTS Holdings Limited 

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

Thank you for your dedicated help during the recruitment process - we came to you after unsuccessfully searching elsewhere, and hired, not one, but two! Quick response times, and a really personal approach, without being pushy.

Managing Director, Accora Ltd

George came recommended by a colleague and has been a pleasure to work with. He was great at updating us on his progress and ensured a great experience for both client and candidate.

HR Manager, Annapurna Recruitment Ltd

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Very professional service and will certainly be in contact for future recruitment.

Director, Blakedown Sport & Play Ltd

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

Really good service. Just the right amount of contact and easy to deal with.

HR Manager, Zircon Software Ltd

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

George is a rare find in the world of recruitment - communicative without being pushy or over-bearing. He listens and understands what the customer needs as gets to know the business to ensure he provides fully competent candidates who fit.

HR Manager, Big Dug

Generally good standard of candidates. Especially liked the personality profile. Overall good value for money and will certainly use you again.

Managing Director, Medicash

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

As always we were extremely impressed with Rob's understanding of the role and our specific needs.

Managing Director, Speck & Burke

I can't fault Sam or AW! Sam was a pleasure to work with and provided great support from the start. Sam always provided me with timely updates when required and provided outstanding candidates!

Director, Waste Managed Ltd

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

George is a joy to work with, and I'd recommend him to anyone seeking that unicorn hire - he found me mine, and I'm delighted!

Director, Education Support

Our candidates say...

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

Very polite and friendly and was very helpful finding me my next new role.

K. Craggs, Candidate

Excellent experience. Knowledgeable staff and really went the extra mile. Found my ideal position and I couldn't be happier. Special shout out to Sam and George: who made the process smooth and easy for me. Highly recommend.

K. Pearce, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

The detail put into the preparation for interviews and the detail of the job description was first class. Rob and Simon in particular are amongst the best I've ever dealt with.

K. Peacock, Candidate

Professional and responsive from start to finish. I would highly recommend. Special thanks to Sophie J for her help and support throughout.

N. Leney, Candidate

For anyone looking for work, I can't recommend Aaron Wallis highly enough.

C. Rockliffe, Candidate

Sam was by far the most professional and helpful of any individual I've ever dealt with through a recruitment agency. He was supportive and thorough throughout the process. He definitely goes the extra mile for you. A pleasure to deal with. I would highly recommend him. An asset to Aaron Wallis

M. Wyer, Candidate

I would highly recommend Aaron Wallis Recruitment, Darren was extremely helpful and provided me with plenty of advice and support throughout the whole process.

D. Bretherton, Candidate

I would highly recommend thank you to Darren for helping me secure my new job role! Excellent service all round!

G. Thompson, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

Simon was knowledgeable on his clients history, background and what their requirements were and he worked around time zones, holidays and a pandemic to get the right result.

J. Tooze, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate

George is a fantastic recruitment agent and provides a great service. It was a pleasure I thoroughly recommend George to anyone.

C. Beaugie, Candidate

George Humphries was a complete professional at every point, from our first phone conversation to his “good luck tomorrow” text on Sunday before I started in my new role.

E. Fry, Candidate

The staff at Aaron Wallis were fantastic. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication and I always knew where I stood.

M. Owusu, Candidate

I had a very good experience with Aaron Wallis. The company itself is offering great content for all things related to the hiring process. I definitely recommend.

J. Ostermeier, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

Sophie has been fantastic and always so attentive, highly recommend.

T. Ashbourne, Candidate

Rob was really helpful when I was putting together a presentation for the second stage interview. Overall their communication was great and kept me updated of any progress

J. McGrattan, Candidate

Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

I had the absolute pleasure of working with George Humphries on finding a placement best suitable for me.

A. Van Der Mescht, Candidate

When talking with Simon you felt relaxed cared to help you find a position that suited your needs

D. Pinder, Candidate

Darren at Aaron Wallis was really encouraging and helpful. He was very responsive and regularly made phone calls to explain the job opportunities available, and guided me through the application process.

A. Brown, Candidate

Managed to get me placed within a week! Really friendly and easy to deal with. Always available for a call and my biggest challenge was I was in work at the time I was looking for my next opportunity (which is stressful) but Sam made that easy.

P. Fitzsimons, Candidate

I had a great experience. Helped me every step of the way to get my new job. Sophie was very polite, kind and helpful!

J. Parnham, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

The most professional recruitment agency I've ever worked with. Robert Scott was extremely proactive and send me a detailed briefing before each interview, ensuring I was well prepared.

D. Bermant, Candidate

Sophie helped me secure a new role I have been searching for. She took her time to explain clear and concisely all I needed to succeed at the interview stage. Thanks again Sophie!

O. Oladejo, Candidate

I have to say using Aaron Wallis Recruitment has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. I've used many agencies over the years as the client and the candidate and its not always been a pleasurable experience!

L. Knowles, Candidate

George above and beyond to make sure I had everything I need to secure my new role. Outstanding Professional.

A. Kirkland, Candidate

Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with he was supportive really quick at replying and really put me at ease.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

Sophie contacted me about a role explained the details clearly and made sure I was ready for the interview. She kept in touch every step of the way till I started the job. Thank you Sophie for a great experience.

S. Powell, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

Friendly, proactive, communicative. Overall a really positive experience.

R. Houston, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate