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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part A : Commencing Employment

7. Recruitment & Selection


7.1        SCOPE


7.1.1 Recruitment and selection is the process that employers use to attract applicants for a job to determine their suitability. This involves various selection techniques such as short listing, scoring, interviews, assessment and reference checks.


7.1.2 This section identifies some of the strategies that can be used to attract a wide pool of applicants from designated groups.




Recruitment and selection processes should be conducted fairly and without unfair discrimination. One of the barriers in the recruitment process is the inability to attract sufficient numbers from the designated groups. Attracting as many applicants as possible from designated groups may ensure that a larger skills pool is available from which to recruit. Recruitment and selection is often the most important mechanism to achieve numerical targets and to increase the representivity of designated groups in the workplace.


7.2.1 A number of areas in recruitment and selection should be reviewed to eliminate unfair discrimination: These include: Advertising and head hunting;
7.2.1 2 The job application form; The short listing process; . Interviews; Job offers; Record keeping; and Reference checking.




7.3.1 The recruitment process should be informed by the employer’s employment equity plan, including the recommended affirmative action provisions.


7.3.2 Employers should have written policies and practices that outline their approach to recruitment and selection. This document should: reflect the values and goals of the employer’s employment equity policy or ethos; and include a statement relating to affirmative action and the employer’s intention to redress past inequalities.


7.3.3 Where an employer utilises the services of recruitment agencies, it should make the recruitment agency aware of its employment equity policy.


Advertising positions


7.3.4 When advertising positions employers should refer to their employment equity policy or values and indicate their position on affirmative action.


7.3.5 Job advertisements should place emphasis on suitability for the job, and should accurately reflect the inherent or essential requirements (i.e. the core functions) of the job and competency specifications.


7.3.6 Employers may consider placing all advertisements for positions internally even if a job is being advertised externally. This will make current employees aware of the opportunities that exist within the workplace.


7.3.7 When advertising positions, employers may state that preference will be given to members of designated groups. However, this does not suggest that the process of recruitment excludes members from non-designated groups.


7.3.8 Where possible, employers should place their job advertisements so that it is accessible to groups that are under-represented. Employees who are on maternity leave should be informed of positions advertised in the workplace.


Job Application Forms


7.3.9 A job application form is a mechanism that is used by an employer as part of selecting a suitable applicant for a position.


7.3.10 The purpose of a job application form is to: standardise the information employers receive from job applicants. This should reduce the probability for unfair discrimination; ensure that the information received from job applicants focuses on the requirements of the job and does not result in indirect unfair discrimination.; and obtain biographical information to provide an employer with an easy mechanism for monitoring applications from various designated groups.


Short-listing of Job Applicants


7.3.11 Short listing is a process in which an employer considers all applications, including curriculum vitae and other relevant documents. An employer should place those job applicants who meet the criteria on a shortlist.


7.3.12 The process of short-listing job applicants should be standardized. Where no standards exist, an approach should be decided on before short-listing commences.


7.3.13 An employer should consider involving more than one person in the process of short-listing applicants to minimize individual bias.


7.3.14 The short-listing panel should be balanced in terms representivity.


7.3.15 Where an employer has outsourced the short-listing process, every effort must be made to ensure that the process is consistent with the recruitment and selection policies of the employer.


7.3.16 An employer should not rely on second hand knowledge or assumptions about the type of work the applicant may be able to do.


7.3.17 An employer should ensure that it short-lists as many suitably qualified applicants from designated groups as possible.


7.3.18 Suitably qualified6 applicants must meet the essential job7 requirements.


7.3.19 When short-listing, an employer could include applicants from designated groups who meet most but not all the minimum requirements. These applicants with potential could be considered for development to meet all the job requirements within a specified timeframe.




7.3.20 An interview is a selection tool that provides an employer with the opportunity to meet a job applicant face-to-face.


7.3.21 Employers should use the same panel in the short-listing and interviewing process.


7.3.22 Employers should provide training and guidance to the panel conducting the interviews on: interviewing skills; the measuring system; employment equity and affirmative action; and matters relating to diversity, including skills for recognizing different dimensions of merit.


7.3.23 Employers may develop a standard interview questionnaire. This is a questionnaire prepared before the interview listing a set of questions that will be asked of each applicant interviewed to determine the applicant’s suitability for the job. The interview questionnaire should be based on the job description, particularly essential elements of the job and competency specifications. Employers should regularly audit their interview questionnaires to ensure that they do not contain questions that are potentially discriminatory.


7.3.24 An employer should consistently and objectively assess all applicants interviewed using as a basis the job description, competency specification and the measuring system. The same amount of time should be allocated for each candidate and the same or similar questions should be asked.


7.3.25 The measuring system should be standardized. An employer must allocate weightings to ensure that there is a balance between matching job requirements, numerical targets and the needs of the employer.


Making the job offer


7.3.26 Employers should ensure that a realistic job preview is provided to ensure that both the candidate and employer’s expectations are congruent. This is to facilitate the retention of employees from designated groups by effectively managing expectations before the candidate accepts a position, i.e. it must be clear to the candidate on what their expectations are, lines of authority and specific responsibilities;


7.3.27 Where a candidate does not accept a job offer, an employer should conduct an "exit" type interview to establish the reasons for not accepting the offer. This will enable the employer to identify and remove existing barriers.


Record keeping


7.3.28 An employer should keep copies of all documents relating to each stage of the recruitment process for a reasonable period of time after the position has been filled. These documents will be important in the case where an applicant challenges the recruitment process and selection.


7.3.29 An employer may keep data on its recruitment processes to inform its employment equity strategy and for monitoring changes in attitudes and actions of managers. This information could include: the demographic details of candidates who apply, those who are short listed, interviewed and those who are made offers; the demographic details of candidates in relation to short listing, interviewing and job offers made in each department to establish which sections within the workplace are advancing the employment equity profile of the employer. The employer can then focus attention on those departments that are not successful in advancing the employment equity objectives; and the persons who were involved in the short listing, interview and job offer process.


Reference checks of job applicants


7.3.30 The purpose of a reference check is to verify information provided by an applicant during the selection process.


7.3.31 Reference checks should not be conducted in a manner that unfairly discriminates. The same type of reference checks must be conducted on all short-listed applicants.


7.3.32 An employer should only conduct integrity checks, such as verifying the qualifications of an applicant, contacting credit references and investigating whether the applicant has a criminal record, if this is relevant to the requirements of the job.




7.4.1 Implementing Employment Equity - Recruitment and selection must be aligned to the employer's affirmative action strategy, as reflected in its Employment Equity Plan, which sets out the detail in relation to the numerical targets for each designated group by occupational categories and levels.


7.4.2 Disability - The employer should not unfairly discriminate on the ground of disability. In the context of disability, there are specific recruitment and selection issues that arise. In particular, an employer is required to make reasonable accommodation for the needs of applicants with disabilities. Employers should seek guidance from the Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities and the Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of People with Disabilities.


7.4.3 Attraction and Retention - The ability of an employer to attract employees from designated groups will depend on a combination of factors, which include recruitment and selection practices, competitive benefits, career opportunities, an affirming environment, reputation and image of the employer.


7.4.4 Assessments - Where an employer makes use of assessments during the selection process, they should refer to the relevant section of this Code.


7.4.5 HIV and AIDS Status - An employer should not unfairly discriminate on the ground of HIV and AIDS. Employers could use the Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Employment for guidance in this area.



6 A suitably qualified person in the Act is defined as any one or any combination of a person's formal qualification, prior learning; relevant experience or the capacity to acquire within a reasonable time the ability to do the job.


7 An essential job requirement is the skills, knowledge or experience that are necessary to perform a job.