Social work recruitment specialist Jonathan Coxon offers tips for social work managers and interviewers when recruiting
The cost of recruiting the wrong person is a significant risk. In times of restricted funding, it is increasingly important that organisations appoint the right people.
Here are some ideas on how to refine the interview process and improve your chances of recruiting the best staff.
Improving the interview process starts well before the interview itself. This includes writing a detailed job description which will attract the most suitable applicants and effectively sell the opportunity. It also includes preparing a person specification which identifies what experience and skills are essential and what are ideal in a successful applicant.
How do you judge whether a candidate meets the criteria you have set out? There is nothing wrong with using an element of “gut feeling”, but it is much more useful if you can supplement this with clear evidence. If you are looking for certain traits, design questions which will help provide evidence of these, and create a scorecard to help you keep track of an applicant’s competencies. This will help provide a fuller picture of how closely each candidate matches your requirements, and allow you to compare several candidates with ease after the interview.
Sell the organisation
An interview is more than just a chance for candidates to sell themselves to you; it is an opportunity for you to sell your organisation. If you can use the interview to understand the motivations and concerns facing individual candidates, you can promote your organisation by explaining how these might be addressed. For example, do you provide administrative support for social workers with heavy caseloads? Do you have a particularly strong supervision and development program in place for newly qualified staff? All of these non-financial benefits can help candidates to view you as a desirable employer.
The most significant step managers can take towards improving their hiring process is to train their staff in how to interview. Interviewing is a skill which can be learned, practised and perfected. It’s essential to understand what is currently going on in your organisation, how your staff are interviewing, and where there is room for improvement.
Achieving consistency in your approach and collecting evidence of applicants’ competencies will be invaluable to your organisation.
Based on “The Big Bad Dozen – 12 big interview mistakes and how to avoid them“, an online training session for social work managers, available via www.liquidpersonnel.com
Jonathan Coxon is managing director of Liquid Personnel, a social work recruitment consultancy offering free online training for social work managers
This article is published in the 29 July issue of Community Care magazine under the heading How to recruit the best professionals