Let us suppose that there is a vacancy within a government office for a social worker and there are two applicants for the job. The job description calls for a Bachelor’s Degree. Both candidates have a Bachelor’s Degree. But one of them has a Degree in sociology and the other has a Degree in Economics.
The person with the Degree of Economics has a B average and the person with the Degree in Sociology has a C average. Which one should be given the job?
It would seem only fair that in making a decision about qualifications, you would opt for the person whose qualifications are more relevant to the nature of the job. Since a sociology degree is more closely aligned with the work of a social worker, then it would seem logical that in assessing qualifications in terms of relevance to the job, the person with the Sociology Degree would be preferred to the person with the Economics Degree, notwithstanding the latter’s superior grade average.
Transpose that to the controversy over the choice of a candidate for the job of Deputy Chief Elections Office. Should greater weight not have been given to someone with qualifications relating to the elections management as against someone who is weaker in this area? Should relevance of qualifications not trump grade average?
This is one way of looking at the issue of assessing qualifications. Of course, job evaluations are not limited to considerations about qualifications. There are other factors, which have to be taken into consideration including integrity and experience. But the above example demonstrates the shortcomings of an approach in which qualifications are assessed in terms of grade average rather than relevance to the organization and the work to be done.
One letter writer, Mr. Nowrang Persaud, has made a timely intervention. That person indicated that there are other criteria, which need to be taken into consideration for professional, supervisory or managerial positions.
He says that when it comes to filling certain vacancies, some companies outsource interviews. This is a good way of reducing interviewer bias.
If the Guyana Elections Commission has not yet issued a contract to the person who the majority of the Commission favours for the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer, then perhaps the Commission can arrange a second round of interviews but this time to be undertaken by an independent firm.
The outsourced firm should be allowed to determine the criteria and the relevant weights to be applied to each criterion. The criteria and their weights would be determined based on the company’s assessment of the expertise, which will be needed for the job.
The same person has pointed out that what some employment evaluators do is to administer certain tests to assess written and oral communications skills, interpersonal relationships, ability to motivate others, supervisions and management of staff and financial and materials management.
It was persuasively argued that, “objective assessment and comparative/relative evaluation of these criteria often require ‘third party’ interventions such as in-house and/or external selectors facilitated by recruitment professionals and reference-checks.”
In the case of GECOM, which has the task of convincing the public that its staff are not only competent but fair and impartial, then it would have been better for a ‘third party’ evaluation of the candidates for the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer.
The Commissioners of GECOM certainly must be aware of the highly polarized nature of our society. Any suggestion of political or other bias is going to affect public confidence in the work of the Commission. This is something, which GECOM should avoid.
One political leader once said that the situation is such that GECOM is under such intense scrutiny that it has to ensure spotless elections because the slightest indiscretion will attract perceptions of possible skullduggery and impropriety
It might be best if in the case of the controversy over the appointment of a Deputy Chief Elections Officer that if a compromise cannot be reached to have two such offices, then perhaps a ‘third and independent party’ should be asked to conduct new interviews. The objective should be an appointment that is not only fair and transparent but is so seen by the public.
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