Recruitment and selection in H&SC


An overview of Recruitment and Selection Procedures in the Health and Social Care Sectors.

In the working world, identifying and selecting the most suitable candidate for any job and at any level is vital for employers; and none more so than within the Health and Social Care sectors. Recruitment and selection are important hiring steps in ensuring effective performance and practice, team-working and good standards of care. The right quality of care often means it is vital to have the right people recruited and in the appropriate roles. However, for employers when it comes to recruitment and selection three of the biggest challenges they face is, firstly, how to source and attract enough applicants of the requisite quality; second, how to check their suitability for the role; and, thirdly, how to ascertain whether they are likely to stay in an appointed position, raising related issues about career development and progress. And all of this in the context of recruiting in a Pandemic!

Many larger employers may already have the infrastructure and recruitment and selection tools in place. The NHS have created a range of information resources, including toolkits and case studies such as an interactive Inspire attract and recruit toolkit for HR professionals, recruitment teams and managers. This is designed to not only to help HR Professionals target the appropriate calibre of employee, but also to assist in inspiring potential members of the future workforce. The ‘Inspire attract and recruit toolkit’ contains information on application guidance, including a ‘top tips’ section and helpful examples of ‘best practice’, thus matching applicants to job roles in the NHS with greater efficiency. It also helps HR in better understanding of workforce supply and in overseeing patterns of recruitment. 

However, often smaller employers don’t possess such an infrastructure, access to such resources and the related expertise. As a result, Skills for Care, an independent charity and sector leader with over 18-years of experience in workforce development, has created a suite of practical recruitment and retention tools to support smaller UK organisations and individual employers in developing, leading and retaining staff. These range from entry level through to senior leadership. The toolkit includes the following:

  1. Introduction to values in social care and why they are so important;

  2. Guidance on recruiting and selecting for social care values;

  3. Samples of good practice draft job advertisements and interview questions;

  4. An online Personality Profiling tool which employers can use with candidates;

  5. Signposting to the Leadership Qualities Framework with an explanation of how it can help in recruiting for values;

  6. Signposting to information on Finders Keepers, Common and Managers’ Induction Standards and other sources of information.  

For more information on  refer to the Skills for Care site here.

In the Health and Social Care sector, when recruiting and selecting staff, it is critical to comply with current legislation. This includes awareness of and strict compliance with legal rights, such as confidentiality, equality and discrimination, and the appointment of ‘fit persons’ as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. 

Recruitment and selection within the NHS must adhere to recruitment and selection policy guidelines. This is designed to ensure standards of best practice in the recruitment and selection of staff, and to ensure the relevant pre-employment checks are undertaken. Altogether, this provides a framework for all involved so that the recruitment process can operate in a fair, open and equitable manner, and as free from bias and discrimination as is possible. 

Recruitment Strategies 

Recruitment strategies and advertising methods employed by Health and Social Care employers range from the NHS jobs site to  open days, recruitment microsites, on-line and social media advertising campaigns including digital media, ‘live’ job chat forums, work shadowing and work experience programmes, to redeployment initiatives. Digital media has become an increasingly used recruitment advertising strategy. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has previously used a national social media recruitment campaign ‘Every Day is Different When You Care’ in an attempt to, not only change people’s perceptions about what it means to work in adult social care, but also fill a recruitment gap; there are 110,000 vacancies at any one time in England with a staff turnover rate of over 30% (alongside an aging population with a complex set of care needs). The campaign has included national and regional media engagement, Google, online, radio and social media advertising and a Facebook campaign to showcase case studies on a wide range of rewarding and varied job roles in adult social care. 


Recruitment and Selection Methods.

To ensure appropriate and effective recruitment and selection multiple techniques can be used at any one time. This might include a ‘face-to-face’ evaluations and competency-based interviews (usually via a panel of two to three members), formal presentations, assessment centres, multiple mini-interviews, psychometric tests, group exercises, focus groups and practical simulated exercises/case studies. For example, senior appointments at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust used the results of psychometric testing to identify areas for further investigation. At each stage of the recruitment and selection process all candidates received an outcome on their application or interview. Outcomes of exercises and interviews are scored (usually out of 5, although this is at the discretion of the interview panel), with the highest scoring candidate(s) being successful at interview. Depending on the role and the related skills required often recruitment agencies, both local and overseas, are used to recruit for specialised staff such as GPs, surgeons, assistant surgeons, and nurses. The Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust used an assessment centre approach and values-based interviewing for international recruitment in Spain. 

The Values-Based Model.

The values-based recruitment approach (VBR) aims to recruit staff with values that fit with the target organisation. Health Education England has created a values based recruitment framework to promote and support the embedding of the values of the NHS Constitution in healthcare, education and training. Key values here include ‘integrity’, ‘compassion’ and ‘empathy’. However, each trust will also have its own specific values. Typically, recruiting managers are required to use at least three of the mandatory values-based questions within their interview process (and/or the assessment centre). Interview questions or assessment activities are designed to test values rather than competencies. A values-based interviewing technique explores how and why people make decisions and undertake certain actions in any given situation. Typically, the interview panel will ask between two and three questions depending on the job role, all of which will relate to organisations values. The candidate night be asked to give example of a real-life situation to reflect on their working practice. An example of a VBI question might be ‘Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for someone?’ Again, depending of the role and level of responsibility Health and Social Care providers can use a wide range of recruitment interview styles. For example, medical schools recruiting for medical students will use ‘Multi Mini Interviews’ (MMI) as part of their section process. The MMI interview is essentially several short practical assessments, usually less than 10 minutes each, and can take up to an hour to complete overall. Candidates are usually presented with scenario-based questions. Interviews for other specialised roles within the NHS, such as with the range of technological areas, can include ‘competency’ or ‘behavioral interviewing’ which seeks to discover how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations (with the underpinning logic that past behaviour is a useful predictor of future actions in given situations). NHS employers have produced a variety of case studies and podcasts to showcase good practice in values-based recruitment including sample interviews, information on assessment centres and a range of materials focused on developing and embedding values. See here for examples.

Use of Technology

Due to skills and staff shortages Health and Social Care providers are often using technology to support recruitment initiatives, as well as deploying technology in the recruitment and selection strategies themselves. For example, due to a relative shortage of GPs within the UK employment pool, the NHS introduced the dedicated scheme, ‘The International GP Recruitment Programme’. As the title makes clear this was designed to recruit GPs from around the world with greater efficiency. Part of this process includes the services of an international recruitment agency, and the use of video conference technology when conducting initial interviews with candidates in their home nation. 

Recruitment technology is also used to bring about a major improvement in efficiency and delivery. One such example is ‘Oriel’, a centralised one-stop online application portal. This was developed by Health Education England as a UK-wide recruitment system for postgraduates, specialising in medical, dental and public health training. Previously, recruitment phases relied on over twenty systems across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Oriel’s inception has brought about a major improvement in efficiency and delivery, enabling applicants to register, view vacancies, apply for positions, and schedule and manage interviews, within just one online portal. 

In short, the Health and Social Care sectors have had to embrace the online world to deal with ‘on the ground’, but pressing, everyday issues. These include an aging population, a lack of trained staff in frontline services. Technology, particularly web technology, has played an important role in addressing these areas. However, the provision of information, and strategies for matching the right employees to the appropriate roles, is at the forefront of the challenges faced by Health and Social Care recruiters.