Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 4 - An Older Applicant

You are a member of a selection panel, interviewing applicants for a job that involves a fair bit of physical labour within your agency. One of the applicants, who seems to satisfy all the selection criteria for the job, is obviously much older than all the other applicants, and well above the average age of people who are employed by your agency for this type of work.

Despite his credentials, you still have worries about whether this job would, in fact, be suitable for a person of his age. You are wondering whether this applicant can handle the job and fit in with the much younger people that he would be working with if he gets the job.

What should you do?

  1. Provided that you have discussed the candidate’s age with him during his interview, that topic may be raised again in the panel’s subsequent deliberations about whom to hire.
  2. Only after the interviews should you raise the question of this person’s age with the panel. You should then express your concerns during this phase of the selection process.
  3. If the candidate satisfies the selection criteria, then the person’s age must not figure in the selection process at all, and is an inappropriate topic to ask the candidate about or to be discussed by the panel.
  4. During the interview of this candidate, you may ask whether he sees his age as a strike against him in his application. Once the candidate has answered that question or group of questions, the candidate’s age may not figure in the panel’s subsequent discussion.
  5. The panel has made a mistake in allowing the application to progress this far in the selection process.  It should have been eliminated on grounds of age earlier in the process. However, given that the candidate has made it this far in the selection process, you may not now ask age-related questions of him, or discuss the matter of age in the panel’s subsequent deliberations.


About the possible answers

Re: a. 

There is no point in the selection process where it is appropriate to ask about or discuss an applicant’s age or fitness for the role because of their age.  This is inappropriate in an interview and also in subsequent discussions of candidates.  Each applicant should be assessed on merit against the selection criteria, regardless of their age.

Re. b. 

There is no point in the selection process where it is appropriate to ask about or discuss an applicant’s age or fitness for the role because of their age. This is inappropriate in an interview and also in subsequent discussions of candidates. Each applicant should be assessed on merit against the selection criteria, regardless of their age.

Re: c 

THE BEST ANSWER FOR YOUR WORKPLACE?

This is correct. The selection criteria are the only things that may be inquired into; and age and age-related matters are not included. It is never appropriate to ask about or discuss an applicant’s age or fitness for the role because of their age. This is inappropriate in an interview and also in subsequent discussions of candidates.

Re: d:  

The selection criteria are the only things that may be inquired into; and age and age-related matters are not included. It is never appropriate to ask about or discuss an applicant’s age or fitness for the role because of their age. This is inappropriate in an interview and also in subsequent discussions of candidates.

Re: e. 

It is never appropriate to ask about or discuss an applicant’s age or fitness for the role because of their age. This is inappropriate in an interview and also in subsequent discussions of candidates



Government Sector Employment Act 2013

Ethical Framework

Integrity

(a) Consider people equally without prejudice or favour.

Trust

(c) Uphold the law.

Accountability

(a) Recruit and promote staff on merit.

(c) Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny.

Anti-Discrimination Act 1977

Part 4G

Division 1 -- General
Section 49ZYA (what constitutes discrimination on the ground of age).

Division 2 Discrimination in work
Section 49ZYB – Discrimination against applicants and employees.