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03rd October 2014

Getting the Right Person

Getting the right person.Staff recruitment is a challenging but very important task for managers of care services. After all, people who are supported receive support from people whom you select, and the wrong choice can lead to a huge drop in the quality of support which is experienced.

The Scottish Government drew up guidance for care providers on safer recruitment in 2007. There have been major changes in legislation and policies since that time, but the basic principles of that paper are still valid, and should be followed.

The views of service users

Best practice is to use the views of service users, or their representatives, who can be highly skilled at detecting relevant personal qualities and values in candidates. This can be done by direct involvement in the interview (with any necessary support and preparation). Other methods to obtain their views would be to invite relevant questions to be used in the interview, having discussions about the attributes of good support workers, and observing informal interaction through visits to the service beforehand.

Person specification, job description, interview procedures and skills required are important to prepare in advance.

Vetting is of course of the highest importance, and includes checking professional registration, checking qualifications, references from most recent employer and others, and identity checks.

The interview should involve more than one interviewer, and ideally include service users who can have equal say in the final decision. Questions should follow the same format, to demonstrate non-discrimination. A rating system may help the final decision as to whether to accept the candidate. Personality, values, and attitudes (particularly towards age, disability and other vulnerabilities) should be an important focus. These can be assessed through observation, responses to questions, information about how the person was seen by previous employers, and such information as interests, voluntary work and personal history.

The ability to do the job is not the last word

The ability to do the job is not, in my experience, the last word. Managers have to be assured that the successful candidate will do the job. Too often highly skilled workers have seemed ideal, but emerge to have a poor attendance record, high levels of sickness, are not 'team players', or are simply averse to hard work. To avoid this, the employment history and references will be important: does the person have a progressive career, or did they move from care job to job for unclear reasons, and without direction?

Another way to assess whether the person will do the job is through rigorous post recruitment procedures: induction and initial appraisal are important, and a probationary period (setting clear performance targets, including timescales). The condition can be set that the probationary period may be extended, until satisfactory performance is reached and assured.

These methods should help you to select a person who is an asset to your service, and to those people who use your service.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Tony Clarke

Scottish Care Inspectorate Specialist

Tony began care work as a care assistant in care of the elderly here in Scotland in the 1970s. He very much enjoyed promoting activities, interests and good basic care. After a gap to gain a social work qualification, he worked in management of care services, latterly as a peripatetic manager which gave him experience of a wide range of services.

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