Unethical Practices in Hiring People

Nadeem Yousaf

Facing an annoying unemployment rate in Pakistan, unethical practice of entrepreneurs is getting more and more irritating and infuriating for job seekers. Job seekers have reported many unethical practices, which are prevalent and needs our attention.

It is not only in public sector that jobs are allocated through backdoors; this malpractice is also found prevalent in private sector as well as in international organizations. A widespread impression is that networking (a latest word for nepotism and favouritism) is playing a vital role in getting job than qualification and skills. A case is reported that a person was working in the department of Human Resource (HR) in an international organization; however, upon completion of the contract in HR, he got position in IT department of the same organization. Discussion with unemployeds shows that companies advertise positions, and then they either do not hire anyone or hire candidates who approach them through networking. An NGO, dealing with labor rights, advertised a job and told the candidate to come for the second interview on a specific date; just an hour before the interview, the candidate received a call that the second interview was cancelled and he would be contacted soon. Later upon enquiry, he was told that the advertised position was abandoned. Another applicant was told prior to the interview that the selection would be made from the three shortlisted candidates; in this case also the applicant was told that he would be called for another interview; but later on the person was selected who was not even among the short listed candidates. The question is if the organizations have other sources to find the right candidate why do they advertise the job? An entrepreneur interestingly admitted that he multiple job positions even though he was required to fill just one position.

The concept of short listing has become a weird joke in Pakistan. In many instances, interviewers have not even seen CVs of the short listed candidates prior to the interview. A person was told on the day of interview that he was not suitable for the position since he had never worked in a public organization; surprisingly no one had noticed the fact at the time of shortlisting process. Similarly, a female who completed her master degree in Business Management and applied for the position in the same field was ironically asked by the panel of a reputed college about her specialization in IT. Viewing advertisement in the dailies, sometime it appears that organization have demanded all kinds of relevant and irrelevant qualifications, which is quite confusing. It also shows either the organization have not analyzed the job properly or wanting a ‘jack’, not a professional.  Sometimes it also looks by seeing advertisements, especially of international organizations, as if the advertisement were tailored to hire “someone special.”

It is also inconceivable why employers are keen in keeping potential candidates in the dark about salary of the advertised position and prefer to make a vague statement such as it depends upon the qualification of the candidate. However, the statement is meaningless because employers offer the salary that they have budgeted without offering much room for negotiations. Some of the employers might mistakenly think that vague statements amplify impression of their organizations and deliberately wish to give a false impression to attract high calibre applicants who might not apply for the position after hearing about the amount of salary.
Another common observation is that employers are keen to invite candidates at the same time and expect them to wait for hours for their turn at the reception. Some applicants complain that they were asked to take a test on the interview-day for which they were not informed and mentally prepared. With little planning employers can save their and candidates’ precious time by calling them for interview at distinct and separate hours. It is also quite common for organizations asking a photograph of applicants with a job application, which is considered unethical in many developed countries to prejudge people by photographs.

It is not uncommon that organizations advertise jobs with high profile titles but nature of job is like assistant. Recently, a company advertised a post of AVP (Assistant Vice President) and asked for 3 years experience. The title of the job and the required experience are contradictory to each other; by and large, the AVP position requires experience a lot more than 3 years.

The above practices are not restricted to position that are offered through classified advertisements but for those which are announced through reasonably big advertisement by reputed firms and organizations. Indeed, these all companies and organizations usually claim a smart and strong Human Resource Department (HRD) in the organization.

Unfortunately, establishing HRD has become a fashion. It seems that organizations have HRD to give impression of modernization but hardly willing to practice Values of HR. All points mentioned above are against the HR norms and values. Moreover, HRDs are ineffective because mostly non-professionals having skimpy knowledge of the field are occupying positions in the department. It is not to say that they have not memorized terminologies of the field such as job analysis, job enrichment, selection criteria, 360 evaluations or other similar words but they carry scanty knowledge of the purpose of HRD.

Many organizations have yet to realize that strong HRD not only saves money, time and energy of organizations but also reduces complaints of the candidates and employees. Job analysis is not done to hire any person on minimum salary but is done to point out right qualification and skills that are required to complete the job successfully and to offer appropriate salary.

Pakistani entrepreneur must appreciate the fact that their hilarious strategy of hiring people might be expedient for them but is unfair and harmful for applicants as it creates further anxiety among the unemployed. Averagely sending one application costs Rs.20; and, under depressed economies such as ours is unimaginable that a person would get a job just after sending one application, unless the candidate takes advantage of some “other means.” Moreover, an interview can cost a candidate from Rs.20 to Rs.300 depending upon the mode of the transport a candidate uses for appearing in the interview. Clumsy strategies of hiring people not only put unnecessary financial burden on job seekers but also leave very pernicious psychological effects on the applicant and affect self-efficacy of a person.

Being corporate citizens of the society, organizations must adopt transparent process of hiring people and follow ethical guidelines of the field of HR. They must appreciate the fact that Human Resource is as important as financial capital.

Published in the Daily Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan