MPI's recruitment process- Not fit for purpose
The request was partially successful.
From: D Dahya
Dear Ministry for Primary Industries,
The reason for my information request is in regards to several job applications I submitted to MPI in early 2017 - all of which were declined and at my request was provided reasons for declining those applications which I found were overly general in nature, vague & unclear -preventing me(and other job seekers) from improving any future applications but, more importantly, applicants have a right to know exactly why their job application(s) were declined.
On this basis I am claiming that MPI's current recruitment processes are flawed, obstructive, oppressive and unfair.
It is the public's (job seekers) right to have the expectation of confidence in the processes of any government agency and the right to question it if they feel otherwise, especially ones directly relating to livelihoods.
In submitting the second FYI information request clearly indicates a lack of confidence and some significant flaw in their current recruitment practices relating to the way in which recruitment/application processes are managed and how they respond to applicant queries.
I have also attended a meeting with Recruitment manager and another manager to discuss this matter in detail but because the actual Hiring Manager was not present at the meeting answers to key questions/points remained unresolved.
List of vacancies applied for in early 2017 and this request relates to them.
Web Administrator - January
Web Content Writer - February
Web Content Writer - April
Web Administrator - May
For the first 2 applications below specific reasons were not provided after which I raised the issue of the importance of clear reasons being provided, however, for the last 2 applications clearer reasons were provided and related to 'current' web experience as being the reason.
The initial reasons provided for the declined applications were;
1. Web Administrator
i, "After careful consideration, we regret to advise you that the application you submitted for the Web Administrator position has been unsuccessful.
While you may have been unsuccessful on this occasion, we encourage you to apply for any other roles you may be interested in with MPI."
*This response did not indicate any specific reason for declining my application.
But on pressing further I received the following reasons;
ii, "The feedback from the Hiring Manager was that you did not meet the requirements for the role and that there were candidates more suited to the role".
iii, "The panel identified candidates who more closely matched the experience level and technical skills required for this role".
*Again the response did not indicate any specific reason.
2. Web Content Writer
i, "After careful consideration, we regret to advise you that the application you submitted on 24 February 2017 for the Web Content Writer position has been unsuccessful. We encourage you to apply for other roles at MPI."
* This didn't outline the specific reasons nor which minimum requirements I had failed in.
3. Web Content Writer - April
The feedback from the Hiring Manager was that you didn't show enough solid web writing experience compared to other candidates. Your application didn't reflect a background with a sound knowledge of current web communication practices, web content development and publishing experience and best practice web process familiarisation, all which are essential skills for the role.
My application clearly outlined web content development and publishing experience and best practice web process familiarisation. The issue appears to be 'current' web experience was required.
4. Web Administrator - May
"We have progressed candidates to interview stage that have more relevant experience for the role - you don't meet the minimum requirements for the role as you are light on up to date web admin skills & experience".
- HR/Recruitment have stated MPI have answered my questions adequately despite providing unclear reasons preventing me from improving any future applications in a timely fashion.
- They have also advised initial responses are usually generic but on further inquiry a detailed response is provided yet declined applicants are advised (in the first instance via email) to continue applying for future roles at MPI without being given the opportunity to improve their applications.
- Recruitment could have advised more simply & clearly an application lacked 'current web experience' rather than state "I did not meet the minimum requirements due to ..."
- Out of the 4 applications I had submitted I had asked for reasons for declining them - for all 4 of them.
The first 2 applications I had received vague, unclear reasons that prevented me from improving my applications for the next 2 vacancies which were advertised a short time later.
'Clear' reasons were only provided for the last 2 applications -but only then after the positions were closed and finalised and so, effectively, the reasons were of no use to me as there were no further relevant vacancies I could apply for in the near future - causing the opportunity to minimise my period of unemployment/acquiring 'current web experience' being lost - ironic as this is their exact reason for declining my application in the first place.
Essentially, I was prevented from improving my applications for the last 2 vacancies - and where recruitment would have been aware of these upcoming opportunities - I was not.
-By not providing specific, clear reasons you have ensured that any future applications will result in a declined application or at the very least, have minimal chance of success.
This could indicate the level of manipulation applied to the recruiting process & whether this has occurred previously?
- I have been advised by HR/Recruitment that MPI will take my feedback on board, and will work with the team on improvements to their service, particularly in regards to candidate care.
With regards to the points/issues raised in the previous(and this) FYI request I believe certainly more needs to be done than just providing advice on 'candidate care' where the issues are directly related to process flaws.
I would have expected more to come of this such as - clear reasons should be provided in the first instance to allow applicants to improve future applications especially when MPI's 'declined' notification emails advise to continue applying for roles?
**Questions not answered at the meeting:
Both questions below couldn't be answered by HR/Recruitment at the time.
1. Why were the roles I applied for re-advertised several times (in 4 months) or were they additional roles, if so, which ones?
No effort was made to obtain these answers either prior to the meeting or afterwards.
2. I asked in regards to the vague & unclear reasons given to me initially - How do those responses exclude the presence of (or perception of) discrimination or even poor recruitment practices?
1. What problems can you foresee /identify when providing vague/unclear reasons for declining an application?
2. What was the process for review of decisions by unsuccessful applicants immediately prior to January 2017?
3. What is the process for review of decisions by unsuccessful applicants currently?
4. Why are applicants advised to apply for future roles at MPI when they are initially given vague, unclear reasons for declining their applications preventing them from improving it for those future applications?
5. Why wasn't the Hiring Manager available for the meeting- as there were few several key points that needed to be clarified?
6. Will you continue to advise declined applicants to continue applying for future roles while initially only providing them vague/unclear reasons for declining their initial applications?
7. Why weren't specific/clear reasons for declining an application provided in the first instance?
8. Why does MPI advise declined applicants to continue applying for future roles when you fail to provide specific reasons for declining their applications preventing them from improving it for those future vacancies?
9. Why are the 'application declined' notification emails unsigned?
10. I would like to know who the staff members were or their titles that sent these emails in order to confirm accountability lies with Recruitment/HR
11. MPI advised me(an applicant) to apply for 'other' jobs .
If MPI has made so much effort to not consider me(or any applicant) objectively(?) for these web roles then what do they consider, based on my application, a suitable role for me? To give credit Recruitment did mention my CV was well formatted.
Again, does this indicate the level of manipulation applied to the recruiting process & has this occurred previously?
12. Were any of these vacancies sent to an external agency, if so which one and when?
13. For each of those vacancies how many applicants were shortlisted?
14. For each of these vacancies how many Indians were shortlisted?
15. For each of these vacancies when were the shortlists finalised?
16. For each of these positions when was the job offered & accepted by the successful applicant ie dates?
17. For each of those vacancies how many of the shortlisted applicants were either; unemployed, MSD-referred job seekers, internal staff, external staff, students(recent of current) or seconded staff?
18. For each of those vacancies, was the successful applicant, currently unemployed, an MSD-referred job seeker, internal staff, external staff, student(recent of current) or a seconded staff member?
19. Why were vague unclear reasons provided in the first instance but not for the last 2 vacancies?
20. Were the vacancies open to the unemployed (either MSD registered job seekers or otherwise) and were unemployed job seekers considered fairly for these positions?
21. Were any of these vacancies passed to an external job agency after may 2017- if so, which ones and when?
22. Were 4 applicants hired for the 4 vacancies advertised in early 2017?
23. Did any of the successful applicants have a tertiary qualification in a relevant field?
24. What changes have been implemented as a result of my complaint/issues raised?
25. Will MPI provide from now on, in the first instance, on request, clear/specific reasons for declining an application and at the same time, and through their 'application outcome' emails, advise declined applicants continue applying for future roles?
26. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify some significant issues around MPI's recruitment processes.
Why weren't notes of the meeting taken by MPI?
26. There has been no acknowledgement to date, at the time of my earlier complaint/information request, in 2017, that MPI's recruitment processes were flawed.
I ask for this acknowledgement now - I'm not just referring to minor flaws but ones that can be considered oppressive, lacking in common sense, unfair & obstructive to future applications.
27. I requested to have re-sent to me the copies of original emails notifying me of my declined applications. What I had previously received were not actually emails but appeared more like 'screen prints' in very tiny print that were manually copied to another system. Also the 'sender' email address was different to one of the email copies I had in my e-mailbox.
Were these emails manually copied into another system for archiving reasons?
28. Why wasn't the frontline contact for MPI (the Customer Enquiries Coordinator) in April 2017 aware of who the Privacy Officer was within your organisation?
I was advised "We don’t have anyone under this job title, can you please provide me with more information?"
The entire point of making a privacy request was to obtain information from MPI not the other way around.
Access to the Privacy officer in any organisaiton is very important and should not be cumbersome or obstructive.
My guess is that a simple modification of the online phone directory listing for the Privacy Officer would resolve the matter.
Lastly, I'm hoping after this FYI info request through the FYI website I will have now acquired current web experience and, if not, I will continue to write/blog on flawed recruitment processes in order to keep up to date /retain current web experience.
If you keep applying for same jobs with same application you will continue to get the same response hence the recruitment process is oppressive, obstructive and not 'fit for purpose'.
Ministry for Primary Industries
Dear D Dahya
Thank you for your email below. This is to acknowledge that your request for information will be considered and an answer provided in accordance with the Official Information Act. If you have questions about the progress of your request please contact [email address]
From: Official Information Act
Ministry for Primary Industries
On behalf of Erina Clayton, Director Human Resources of the Ministry for
Primary Industries (MPI), please find attached MPI’s response to your
request for information.
Suzanne Higton | Advisor | Official Information Act
Office of the Director-General | Ministerials and Business Support
Ministry for Primary Industries - Manatû Ahu Matua | Pastoral House 25
The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington 6140 |
Telephone: 04 894 0420 | Web: www.mpi.govt.nz