Inclusive recruitment tips by Erk Gunce

Photo of Erk Gunce, South West Leadership Academy's Inclusion Coordinator

Our Inclusion Coordinator, Erk Gunce (pronounced Eric, pronouns: he/him), shares the current recruitment trends as of August 2021. He summarizes the findings of the recent Labour Market report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He analyses what the data means for the NHS. Lastly, Erk provides suggestions on inclusive recruitment: how do we provide a welcoming, dignified, inclusive recruitment experience for under-represented or marginalised candidates?

 

The current recruitment landscape

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have published their latest Labour Market Outlook Summer 2021 Edition, outlining the current trends in recruitment. Some of the highlights are as follows.

increase their total staff level, maintain their total staff level and decrease their total staff level. There is a rising trend of employers who wish to increase their total staff level, 40% now in Summer 2021 compared to 19% at the start of the pandemic in Spring 2020. There is a falling trend of employers wishing to decrease their total staff level, 8% now in Summer 2021 compared to 29% in Summer 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Page 5, CIPD Labour Outlook, Summer 2021

More employers are considering increasing their total staff level (40% now, compared to 19% in Spring 2020). The number of employers considering decreasing their staff numbers are decreasing (8% now, compared to 29% in Summer 2020)

 

Chart showing the percentage of employers with hard-to-fill vacancies, by industry. The hotel, catering, restaurant, entertainment industries have the largest number of hard-to-fill vacancies at 51%, followed by the healthcare industry at 49%, manufacturing and construction industry at 47% and voluntary industry at 44%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Page 9, CIPD Labour Outlook, Summer 2021.

The healthcare sector is the 2nd hardest hit sector when it comes to percentage of hard-to-fill vacancies (49% of healthcare employers report hard-to-fill vacancies).

 

What the above data means for the NHS

Since the healthcare industry is the 2nd highest industry with hard-to-fill vacancies, we must consider ways in which we can make recruitment more attractive for candidates. In our effort to implement the NHS People Plan, which commits to Fostering Belonging, offering an inclusive recruitment experience can go a long way in attracting diverse talent.

I have recently been trained as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Representative (EDR) by NHS England and Improvement. EDRs are members of staff who volunteer to work with hiring managers and provide an inclusion lens to recruitment campaigns. They nudge the hiring managers and the recruitment panel to diversity and inclusion issues, and act as a critical friend to ensure that recruitment campaigns are conducted in an inclusive, dignified manner. 

 

Recruitment: The ‘Big Questions’

Having reflected long and hard on what inclusive recruitment means, here are some of the ‘big questions’ in my mind:

  • How do we evolve the interviewing process so that it becomes a two-way assessment? During an interview, a candidate should be able to assess the employer as much as the employer assesses the candidate. We have a duty to convince the candidate that we are the right employer for them,
  • How do we move to a more values-based recruitment, where we recognise that someone who doesn’t have all the technical requirements, as long as they possess our NHS values, can learn on the job? Do we need to overhaul the criteria we use in shortlisting and interviewing to focus more on values and less on technical skills?
  • How do we attract younger candidates, who might have less experience but all the right skills, knowledge and values? In our shortlisting criteria and interview questions, do we rely too heavily on experience over potential?
  • In our equality monitoring and equality impact assessments, how do we consider all protected characteristics, including less visible protected characteristics of age, religion, belief, sexual orientation, trans inclusion, pregnancy, maternity and nationality as a key component of ethnicity?

 

Practical recommendations to make recruitment inclusive

So, how do we begin to address these issues? I suggest that we engage in creative destruction, a concept from EcoSystem Analysis. Under this way of thinking, we realize that systems are born, they mature, they are destroyed and then renewed, in a perpetual cycle of rebirth, creative destruction and renewal. Creatively destroying our existing recruitment practice can pave the way to ground-breaking, novel recruitment practices.

Below are several tips on how we can make recruitment more inclusive, in different stages of recruitment:

 

Inclusive acts before the interview

  • When drafting the job description, consider whether the job description is succinct, and whether the person specification contains values-based criteria. If you don’t include values as part of the person specification, it becomes difficult to assess values while shortlisting.
  • When writing the job advert, consider adding a positive action statement. This statement highlights which groups are currently under-represented in your team, or wider organisation, and encourages people from those communities to apply.
  • Consider cascading your job adverts through staff diversity networks to reach a more diverse candidate pool.
  • Make sure that shortlisting is done independently by each shortlister, to avoid affinity bias, conformity bias and groupthink.
  • Consider adding your pronouns in the interview invitation, so that you affirm your support for the LGBT+ community from the outset.
  • Before the interview, consider releasing the interview questions, or broader themes which will be assessed during the interview. Unseen questions can favour candidates who are quicker to respond, concentrate well or have good memory. On the other hand, unseen questions can disadvantage some disabled candidates, perhaps candidates who find unseen interviews stressful or who need additional time to concentrate. Unseen questions can also disadvantage candidates who thrive when they have time to prepare.
  • If conducting in-person interviews, consider whether the venue has worship or reflection spaces, parenting facilities, gender-neutral toilets and accessible facilities for disabled people.

 

Inclusive acts during the interview

  • Consider introducing yourself with your pronouns at the beginning of the interview, so that you affirm your support for the LGBT+ community.
  • Check whether you are pronouncing the candidate’s name correctly. This can be crucial in creating a welcoming space for ethnic minority candidates with non-English names.
  • Ask several values-based questions. If the interview questions are largely technical, it will be difficult to reward candidates with strong values who do not have all of the technical skills but could easily learn on the role.
  • Offer a 5-minute break in the middle of the interview. This can help candidates who find interviews stressful, especially if you have a long list of questions to get through.
  • Offer protected time at the end of the interview, at least 10 minutes, for candidates to ask you as many questions as they wish. An interview is a two-way process, and the candidate should be convinced that the employer is right for them, as much as you should be convinced that the candidate is right for you.
  • Consider giving the candidate a tour of your premises, and introduce them to your stakeholders, so they can get a feel of the people and the place.
  • Avoid interview questions which are experience-focussed. These questions can disadvantage younger candidates, recent graduates and those who have the relevant skills and knowledge but not the relevant experience. You could replace your experience-heavy questions with hypothetical questions: ‘How would you tackle this issue?’ rather than ‘Tell us about a time when you tackled this issue’.

 

Inclusive acts after the interview

  • Take the time to give meaningful feedback to unsuccessful candidates.
  • Consider whether you or someone else you know can coach or mentor the unsuccessful candidates to help them take the next step in their career. 
  • Consider adding suitable candidates to your organisation’s talent pool. Explore how your organisation supports colleagues on the talent pool in achieving their career ambitions.

 

If you have any recruitment top-tips to share, or any inclusive recruitment case studies, please get in touch with the South West Leadership Academy Inclusion team and we will be thrilled to feature your work.

 

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