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Ramadan Reflections: How to support candidates observing Ramadan through a recruitment process

by Zarvesha Rasool


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With more than a week into Ramadan, it is the perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on how we are supporting candidates going through recruitment processes currently. After all, the spirit of Ramadan lies in reflecting, pondering, and refining one’s actions. 

Thinking about this is not only crucial to meet equality, diversity and inclusion aims, but also to ensure that candidates are able to perform to the best of their ability, and therefore that clients are able to make the right decisions at the right time for their organisations. 

Here at Tile Hill, this is both special and important for us. We work with public sector bodies on senior level appointments, and we know that our candidates are making a difference to society and the communities they serve every single day; we are passionate about making sure that we provide the conditions for candidates to excel through recruitment processes so that, ultimately, brilliant, and diverse teams are in place to support communities and people in the best way possible. 

In light of this, here are some of our top tips to support candidates observing Ramadan through a recruitment process: 

1. Provide safe conditions for candidates to disclose any support they need – Can you include a line at the end of job posts on your website/any other medium to make candidates aware that you are willing to support those observing Ramadan if needed? So often people can push through things without communicating their needs because they are unaware that they have the space to do so. Being transparent and adding a few words at the end of application pages or EDI principals if you have them can go a long way. 

2. Flexible interview scheduling – Feeling drained due to lack of fluids and food throughout the day is normal for many who are fasting. Some may be energised in the morning whereas others may prefer afternoon or evening slots as appropriate. Accommodating to these needs will ensure that candidates are interviewing at a time that works better for their concentration and focus, and therefore that they are able to give their best shot in the interview.  

3. Accommodate prayer times in face-to-face interviews – We all know that in person interviews, especially when there are a range of panels, can be full on. Muslims offer prayer 5 times a day at prescribed times throughout the year, but there is an extra effort from observers in Ramadan to ensure these prayers are not missed. Speak to clients to ensure the scheduling allows them a break at a time they need and that there is a space for them to offer prayer. This will ensure that candidates are not worrying about prayer throughout the day and are comfortable to carry on with the process without the stress of having missed something that is important to them – which may affect how they perform, especially when combined with other factors such as hunger and thirst or interview nerves. 

4. Flexible assessment times frames – Ramadan routines are often exhausting and challenging. Offering additional time or flexibility on the mode of completion if candidates are required to complete any assessments, such as psychometrics, can be hugely beneficial for those observing the month. 

5. Virtual interviews – While this may not always be possible given the nature of some roles, it may be worth considering if candidates are having to commute long distances. Travelling from afar can be physically demanding and tiring – especially when in the state of fasting. Offering virtual interview options where feasible can be massively helpful and will ensure candidates have better energy and focus in the interview. If a face-to-face interview is imperative, it can be helpful to offer flexibility in interview slots, as stated above in tip number two. 

6. Reassure and respect – It is not uncommon that people are afraid to discuss their experiences or needs for adjustment due to fear of judgement or discrimination. Reassuring candidates that their religious observances will not affect decision making and that any adjustments will be treated sensitively and confidentially as appropriate can ensure candidates feel secure and confident throughout. 

Adopting these behaviours and actions in recruitment processes can ensure that the process is inclusive, but also that we are playing our part in building a truly diverse, compassionate, and respectful society. 

A thought from Einstein seems to fit well here: “We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.” 

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