Authors:Vicky Ling
Last updated:2023-09-27
Recruiting for success
Marc Bloomfield
Description: Practice management
Tips to ensure you get recruitment right.
Your selection procedures need to be fair and ensure that you appoint the best candidate for the post.
Advertising to a wide field of candidates can often be the best way to fill a vacancy, but in the current difficult recruitment market, it is worth considering whether you have a suitable internal candidate:
you may be better off ‘growing your own’ through training and development;
it sends the message that the organisation recognises talent and good performance;
it shows that career development is possible within the organisation – staff don’t have to leave in order to progress their careers; and
it can support your equality and diversity policy.
Recruitment panels
The recruitment panel should normally include the person who will be managing the postholder and it can be useful to involve someone working in a role similar to the vacancy as they will understand the job in depth. You need to try to ensure that the panel is balanced in terms of diversity characteristics. The number of people on a recruitment panel should be kept as small as possible, as more than three or four can be intimidating.
Job descriptions and person specifications
Reviewing job descriptions before conducting a recruitment exercise ensures that you are recruiting to the job you need the person to do in future rather than the way it has been done in the past.
A person specification is a list of the skills and abilities that will be required by the person doing the job. It can be used when looking through application forms and drawing up a shortlist of those to be interviewed.
Many organisations are now moving to a ‘competency-based’ job description. Letting potential employees know the skills and experience they will need to succeed in the job you are offering promotes applications from strong candidates and decreases the chance you may recruit the wrong person.
It is helpful to ask candidates to complete an application form rather than simply submitting a CV. Forms require applicants to address your particular requirements and make it easier to compare applications. Application forms should not contain questions about health/disability or other personal characteristics unless they are on a separate monitoring form that is removed and used anonymously.
Interviews and tasks
A key aim of an interview is to get candidates talking, to encourage them to provide facts and information, to describe past events or experiences and to express feelings or opinions.
One of your requirements may be the ‘ability to work effectively in a team’. You would be looking for examples of working effectively with other people and using the diversity of the team to help achieve the task, eg, ‘I have regular meetings with people in my department to share information and best practice’; ‘I know how and when to consult my supervisor and value their advice’; ‘I adapt how I communicate depending on the needs of team members and the situation’, etc.
Using a five-point scale can quickly differentiate between stronger and weaker candidates (see table below).
Answer is very poor. Experience/expertise not demonstrated.
Answer is poor. Experience/expertise not sufficiently demonstrated.
Answer is satisfactory. Experience/expertise demonstrated at an acceptable level.
Answer is good. Experience/expertise demonstrated with a range of appropriate examples.
Answer is excellent. Experience/expertise impressively demonstrated.
The panel should each score candidates against each question separately immediately after the interview has concluded. It is better not to discuss scores immediately, but collate them first and see which candidate scores best.
Asking candidates to undertake a practical task is a sensible complement to an interview. You may want to set a number of law-based questions if you are recruiting a caseworker, or an exercise on deciding on competing priorities for someone in a supervisory role. If you set a competency test, you should allow candidates access to the kinds of information resources and tools they would normally use – legal reference resources, for example.
Benefits of a good recruitment procedure
Having an objective recruitment procedure and records makes it easier to demonstrate that a selection for a post was fair and decisions were made on a lawful and justifiable basis. It also provides evidence for Specialist Quality Mark audits or Lexcel assessments.