Selection and interviewing
The selection process is about finding the right person with the right skills, attitude and commitment for the job. The selection process involves a series of activities, which collect relevant evidence and then use criteria to identify the respective strengths and weaknesses of the individuals concerned. It can be described as a funnel, narrowing down the numbers until the strongest candidate is identified. Explore the links below to learn more.
Selection and interviewing audit
Key considerations for a sound selection processOpen
The selection process involves those on the selection panel exercising judgements; however, these judgements must be based on objective evidence and standardised criteria. The selection process must be developed using standardised, benchmarked and quantifiable selection tools against which to score candidates at each stage of the selection process. These should be applied equally to all candidates.
Candidates who consider that they have been discriminated against in recruitment and selection on the grounds of their race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or religion or belief, or refused employment on the grounds of membership or non-membership of a trade union, may make a claim to an employment tribunal. If the tribunal finds in the applicant's favour, it may award compensation or recommend some other course of action to reduce or stop the effect of any discrimination.
The selection processOpen
Selection techniques form part of the recruitment process, but can also play a part in identifying existing staff for specific project working and in undertaking redeployment/redundancy processes.
There are various methods available to help in the recruitment selection process, including interviews, practical and psychometric tests, use of assessment centres, role plays and group/team exercises. Usually a range of methods will be used by the organisation depending on the type of job to be filled, the profile of the recruiting organisation and the budget for recruitment.
Tests can be designed to reveal relevant information and can be highly sophisticated. The British Psychological Society has issued guidelines on the use of testing at work. Guidance on assessing basic skills can be found on the Care Skillsbase website.
The selection panelOpen
The involvement of more than one person in the selection decision, forming a selection panel, helps to ensure fairness in the recruitment process and guards against accusations of bias. Selection should also involve those who have a stake in the recruitment outcome, such as people who use services and, if applicable, family carers and volunteers.
Selection core documentsOpen
Core documents in the selection process are:
- the job description, which breaks down the job into its key tasks and responsibilities
- the person specification, which sets out the characteristics needed for the role, expressed in terms of competencies that can be measured.
The person specification must set out all the agreed and defined criteria for what is required of the job candidate in terms of experience, skills and abilities. It is not admissible to introduce criteria at a later stage in the process. Criteria should be justifiable in terms of the requirements of the job. A candidate needs to address and fulfil each of these criteria in the person specification in order to be selected for the next stage of the recruitment process.
The criteria used should enable the selection panel to answer the fundamental question: can the person do the job to the standards required and will they be motivated to perform to this standard and stay in post?
Many organisations have also developed core competency frameworks, which specify generic behaviours thought to lead to success and these can be used to refine the job description and person specification.
In the social care sector, skills requirements for some services are set out as part of agreed national minimum standards, for example for care homes for adults and domiciliary care services. National occupational standards, for example for social work, for registered home managers, have also been developed for a range of critical jobs. Job descriptions and person specifications will need to incorporate relevant standards.
The following legislation regulates the selection process to ensure fairness, social inclusion and the protection of vulnerable children and adults:
- Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (now see Equality Act 2010)
- Race Relations Act 1976 (now see Equality Act 2010)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Regulations 2005 (now see Equality Act 2010)
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Protection of Children Act 1999
- Care Standards Act 2000
- Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
- Flexible Working Regulations 2002–2006
- Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
- Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
- Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
- Health and Social Care Act 2008
- Equality Act 2010.
Discrimination legislation covers indirect as well as direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination occurs when the employer introduces criteria which disproportionately disadvantage a specific group of people. Care must be taken to avoid introducing criteria that are not objectively justified in terms of the job role. Where an employment agency is acting as a recruitment intermediary, it is essential that they comply with the relevant legislation.
The two main purposes of conducting an interview are to find out if the candidate is suitable for the job, and to give the candidate information about the job and organisation. Every candidate should be offered the same opportunities to present themselves to the best of their ability, to demonstrate their suitability for the job and to ask questions.
In order that there is consistency in all the interviews conducted for a particular job, a structured interview with pre-determined questions should be used.This is designed to discover all relevant information and assess the competencies of the applicant, and the match between job and candidate. The structured interview is most likely to be effective in obtaining specific information against a set of clearly defined criteria. It is good practice for all interviewers to receive training in equal opportunities recruitment practices and interviewing.
Direct involvement of people who use services, carers and volunteers in the selection process usually happens at the interview stage. However, an increasing number of social care employers are using tailored exercises such as role plays or consultation processes to involve people who use services in the selection process.
All interviews need careful preparation if they are to be successful. Each candidate should leave with a sense of being treated well and fairly and having had the opportunity to give of their best.
With the increasing need to recruit staff from a wider geographical area, the use of telephone screening interviews is becoming more popular. When conducting telephone interviews with applicants whose first language is not English, it is important to assess their fluency in relation to the role they will be expected to carry out. A failure to do this could potentially lead to discrimination.
The concluding part of the selection process is the provisional offer of employment, pending the outcome of various checks and references. There is sometimes a temptation to under-resource this part of the process, but attention to this stage of the process is critical. As well as references from previous employment, there are statutory checks that should be followed when a candidate's suitability for employment is to be confirmed. These checks include those set out by the Criminal Records Bureau to ascertain whether a candidate has a criminal conviction that could prejudice their suitability to work with vulnerable adults and children.
The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) has a role in helping to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. The ISA assesses those individuals working or wishing to work in regulated activity who are referred to the ISA on the grounds that they pose a possible risk of harm to vulnerable groups. An employer can check with the ISA if a person has been assessed by them as being unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.
In addition to safeguarding checks, there are requirements for all employers to conduct checks on the permission of a potential employee to live and work in the UK. This can be carried out via the Home Office UK Border Agency.
Having succeeded in appointing a suitable candidate, thought should be given to responding to unsuccessful candidates. It is good practice to notify unsuccessful candidates of the outcome of their interview, and to set aside a time for confidential feedback to be offered, if the candidate wishes for this. This feedback should be delivered sensitively but honestly. It may include suggestions on how the candidate may wish to improve particular skills and experience or areas of their performance and presentation at interview. The data generated as part of the selection process may uncover development needs, which can then be used to offer training or development opportunities to prepare an unsuccessful candidate for future opportunities.
The use of a probationary period is part of the induction process. It combines specific training and development with performance management. It examines whether the person has the ability to develop the skills and competence and has the appropriate attitude to do the job.
A probationary period is linked to selection in so far as it provides for a period of mutual adjustment and an opt-out if the appointment is not the right one, without the employer having to follow a formal competency and dismissal process. In this eventuality, employers must follow the process outlined in the Employment Act 2002 and the Dispute Resolution Regulations 2004.
Key additional resourcesOpen
- Criminal Records Bureau.
- Independent Safeguarding Authority
- ACAS (2007) Recruitment and induction, London: ACAS
- Core Guidance: recruitment (Equality & Human Rights Commission website
- Equality Act 2010, Quick Start Guide for Employers ACAS
- Equality Act – what you need to know Government Equalities Office
- Finders, Keepers: the adult social care recruitment and retention toolkit Skills for Care, 2010
- Resources on recruitment and selection: available on the ACAS website
- Recruitment (XpertHR website) Information solutions for employers of all sizes
- Recruitment and interviewing: jobcentre plus (Businesslink website)
- Self-directed support resources ( in Control website)
- Small and medium employers recruitment and retention toolkit, Skills for Care
- Toolkit to help people employ their own personal assistants, Skills for Care
- Volunteering England, the Recruitment Guide online