Recruiting a strong team is one of the most important things to get right, especially for a small charity. I’ve never been happy with traditional methods: application forms are cumbersome and shortlisting from CVs and cover letters seems too subjective and ineffective. Too often, I’ve found that a great applicant turns into a poor interviewee, or I worry that we missed someone with potential because of the volume of words we had to read. I was keen to try a more objective and focused process. The approach that we followed is essentially borrowed from Applied who make their excellent resources available for free.
What we did
We used the following approach to recruit for two very different roles: a service co-ordinator and a head of service.
In both cases we honed in on the most essential attributes (a mix of skills, experience and qualities) and worked up three questions designed to draw out those attributes. We put these questions up on Survey Monkey, and pointed people to them from the job adverts. We also asked for contact details and CVs, but we kept this data hidden when shortlisting.
We reviewed all the applicants' answers to each question in turn one, and scored all of them, before moving on to the next question and so on. We then shortlisted for interview, based on these scores.
Why we did it
Unconscious bias tends to creep into the selection process. Doing it this way removes much of this bias at the application stage:
• Blinding – by viewing answers without any other contextual data, you are forced to judge candidates on their answers only
• Chunking – by viewing answers in isolation, you avoid the ‘halo’ effect where you start marking a candidate up (or down) because you feel strongly about their previous answers
• Randomisation – by viewing answers in different orders, no one candidate gets unfairly penalised by fatigue.