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Nepotism could be stopping some of the UK's businesses from hiring the best candidates for the job, according to a new study.

Nearly 28% of the 2,300 workers surveyed said they had witnessed people given a job they were clearly underqualified to do because they were favoured by the manager or business owner.

The study, conducted by CV-Library, found that more than 61% of workers in the UK have experienced first-hand some form of nepotism in the workplace. In addition to the 27.9% who had seen underqualified people given a job, more than a third (37.4%) said they had seen other workers given preferential treatment.

Nearly a quarter (22.4%) said they had seen colleagues get away with things that they should be disciplined for. Just over 5% said they had been personally offered a job out of favouritism and 2.2% admitted they had offered someone a job out of favouritism.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said: “The fact that nepotism is trickling through the UK’s workplaces and into the recruitment process is worrying. Eliminating it entirely is unrealistic, but it can be managed. Businesses are built of people who have feelings and personalities that (intentionally or not) can cloud judgement. However, having a skilled workforce is an essential key to productivity and growth, so whilst hiring people that ‘fit’ into the culture of the company is important, employers should pay particular attention in ensuring they are bringing in the very best talent.”

To eradicate nepotism, some have suggested that interviews could be stopped all together, a trend which is currently taking off in India, where they have banned job interviews in favour of assessment tests. When asked about the possibility of banning job interviews in the UK, 43% of employees believed it would be a good solution. When asked why, over half (50.4%) felt that assessment tests are more effective than interviews at revealing a candidate’s qualifications.

But Lee isn't too sure about scrapping the interview process altogether: “Removing interviews from the recruitment process isn’t the solution – they are an essential part of recruiting and give employers a good insight into a candidate’s skills and capabilities. Ultimately, it’s the people that make the company and bringing in the right staff is critical to a business’s success - depending solely on an assessment would be a huge mistake.

“Recruitment can be a tough world and it’s understandable that employers want to hire someone that they like. Implementing a multi-stage interview process can provide managers with an extra opportunity to establish whether a candidate has the right skills to do the job well and ultimately drive the business forward. If the answer’s no, then it’s best to wait for the right person – finding the ideal hire is much more cost effective in the long run than having to manage the wrong candidate.”