Do job applicants have the right to see notes made on them at interview?
Yes, job applicants have the right to see interview notes if the notes are either transferred to computer or form part of a "relevant filing system". The Data Protection Act 1998 places responsibilities on employers to process personal information that they hold about job applicants and workers in a fair and proper way. The Act covers automated and computerised personal information kept by employers as well as personal information put on paper and held in a relevant filing system. Only a well-structured manual system will qualify as a relevant filing system. This means that the system must amount to more than a bundle of interview notes about all interviewees filed in no particular order. There must be some sort of system to guide a searcher to where specific information about a named job applicant can be readily found, for example topic dividers or name dividers. A set of interview notes filed in alphabetical order within a file of application forms for a particular vacancy is likely to come within the definition of a relevant filing system and hence be covered by the Act.
Employers should therefore decide how interview notes will be stored. If they will be held on computer or form part of a relevant filing system, interviewers should be made aware that interviewees will have a right to request access to their interview notes.
Keeping interview notes can help a business to protect itself from potential claims such as those for sex or race discrimination, but they should be destroyed after a reasonable period of time.