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Use this series of pages to guide you through the steps to take when recruiting staff. This includes designing, advertising, shortlisting and interviewing for the role, offering the job and inducting new staff.
This page will be helpful when you’re preparing to shortlist and interview for a role you’re recruiting to. It runs through the steps you should take – from establishing a selection panel through to deciding who to appoint to the role.
Before you begin the shortlisting process, it’s important to establish a panel that will make selection decisions. You could consider involving service users in the interview process where possible.
It’s also a good idea to identify the panel and put dates for shortlisting and interviews in diaries in advance, to minimise the potential for delays. It can help to publish expected interview dates in the job advert.
After the job advert’s closing date, the panel should shortlist applicants for interview based on the person specification you set out at the start of the process.
Aim to shortlist up to five or six applicants for each day of interviews. It helps to shortlist candidates in a structured way, considering applicants against each person specification criterion. This helps to avoid unconscious bias. Using a simple scoring system is a good way to go about this.
All members of the panel should shortlist, to ensure that the process is as objective as possible.
As an employer, you must not discriminate against job applicants based on any of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.
Generally, you shouldn’t make any recruitment decisions based on these characteristics, with limited exceptions for disability. This means you cannot, for example:
Additional legislation prohibits discrimination against other groups:
Once you’ve finished shortlisting, contact shortlisted applicants to invite them to interview. In your email, you should explain:
You should also ask the candidate whether they need you to make reasonable adjustments to the process.
If the interview will take place in person, prepare interview venue in advance (considering any adjustments required). Ensure the venue’s accessible and sets a good impression of your organisation.
If interviewing over video call, ensure you share any joining details ahead of time.
Next, you’ll need to prepare interview questions.
Criteria-based interview questions, which explore past performance, are the most reliable predictors of future performance. Use ‘What would you do if…’ questions sparingly – they’re less reliable.
Below are a few examples of interview questions and useful prompts, based on criteria that frequently appear in interviews.
Take a look at these interview questions you should NOT ask (and what to ask instead) on TPP’s website.
You shouldn’t ask direct questions about disability at interview stage, but you should ask all candidates questions that relate to the essential requirements of the job. For example: ‘Are you able to climb stairs?’ is acceptable if this is required for the job.
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Studies show that interviewing on its own isn’t always the most reliable method of choosing the right person for the job. Adding selection tests increases the predictive reliability of the process.
You could ask applicants to:
When deciding on a test, consider the following.
Once you’ve undertaken all interviews and selection tests, the selection panel should consider the suitability of each applicant against the requirements of the person specification.
You should only reach a decision after all panel members have scored each candidate and discussed the extent to which the candidates meet the person specification criteria.
If, for example, an applicant has scored extremely well on most criteria, but scored badly on a key criterion, you may decide that the applicant isn’t suitable, regardless of whether they scored highest overall.
If you decide not to appoint the highest scoring candidate, make sure the reasons are clearly documented. Panel members should challenge each other to make sure the reasons are not based on discrimination or unconscious bias.
Your selection decision should be based on the individual’s ability to do the job, with reasonable adjustments as needed. For example, if a candidate cannot climb stairs but is otherwise the best person for the job, you will need to consider whether you can reasonably adjust the job so that there is no requirement to climb stairs.
‘Positive discrimination’ (ie recruiting someone because they have a protected characteristic) is unlawful in most circumstances in the UK.
But if two equally qualified candidates scored the same in the selection process, you could select the successful candidate on the grounds that they are from an under-represented or disadvantaged group. It’s important to note that this is a voluntary, rather than mandatory process.
To find out more, see the Equality Act 2010.
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