Better the Devil you know?

As I was recently browsing through some professional social media I noticed a reference to an advertised job role. For clarity, I was/am not interested in said role. However, when I clicked on the link provided it came up as the application deadline had passed. Fair enough, but the thing that piqued my curiosity was that based on dates etc… the role could not have been advertised for more than a fortnight.

Really? In the late July to early August silly season, an advert for a role is only kept open for two weeks? Could one really hope to dredge the available talent pool in a fortnight? Or… could it be (and best utter this in a whisper) that there was already a favoured candidate (perhaps even one already employed by the organisation) lined up for the role? So, if that were the case presumably the advert is only there to meet legal requirements.

We know about issues such as, on the positive side:
•hiring an in-house candidate means that strengths, weaknesses and other traits of the individual are already known;
•hiring an in-house candidate sits well with the benefits to all parties of the intern process.

However, we also know that, on the negative side:
• interview panels tend to be biased to hire people who they perceive as being like themselves;
•there is strength in diversity, so a closed process miss out on new approaches/knowledge, maybe even insights into competitors approaches.

There are other bullet points we could add to the above lists, not least those related to legal requirements for employee selection processes. However, given the ‘real politique’ of selection, for me there is a fundamental question. Assuming there are benefits and disadvantages to both open and closed selection, not least those related to risk and reward; with apologies to Kylie Minogue, is it better the devil you know or the devil you don’t?

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Martin Coffey

About Martin Coffey

Postgraduate Career Development Adviser, Doctoral College Team.

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