We advise employers to make their recruitment processes as accessible as possible, but do we practice what we preach? Here is the process we used in our recent hiring round, looking to fill two roles.
As a small social enterprise aimed at improving disability inclusion in the workplace, we have a policy of only employing disabled people ourselves. Our recruitment process therefore needs to be specifically developed to be both accessible and inclusive. However, we are also keen that our team is diverse in a much broader sense – diversity in terms of type of impairment, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, thinking styles, educational background, location and so on.
We advertise vacancies on our own job board, which is promoted in various ways to disabled people (partnerships with universities, colleges, charities, welfare-to-work providers, Jobcentre Plus, disability journals, social media, online and offline forums, etc).
We offer decent salaries and holiday entitlements and development opportunities as well as flexible working to ensure we attract the best candidates.
The adverts describe our mission and values, an overview of the role, and how we will support the candidate (smart-working, flexibility, relevant adjustments etc). We focus on strengths rather than competences, making it clear that qualifications and experience aren’t as important as drive, motivation and values, and that any protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) are irrelevant – our only interest is in what they can bring to the role.
Every candidate who meets the minimum criteria is sent a job description and put through to the next stage automatically (this applies to disabled candidates, but as we only employ disabled people it applies to all candidates who identify as disabled).
The rest of the process – the assessment of each candidate’s suitability for the role – is conducted on their terms. We state that we want them to have the best opportunity to shine in the assessment stage, and that we know the usual CV and interview process doesn’t work for everyone. Candidates are encouraged to demonstrate their strengths in any way which works for them – for example, written submission, video, conversation (face-to-face, telephone, Skype or email/messenger), examples of previous work etc.
Candidates can contact us (through telephone or email or whatever medium is accessible to them) to ask any questions they may have about the selection process, the company, or the role itself.
At each stage in the process candidates are asked if they would like any adjustments. As they know all the other candidates are also disabled, it is easier to request adjustments without worrying that this may disadvantage them.
Each candidate then engages in their chosen way to demonstrate they have the strengths we are looking for. The hiring decision is based purely on which candidate shows the most potential to add value to the business.
Each candidate (successful or otherwise) is offered comprehensive feedback and further advice if requested.
The outcomes of the process was that we had 41 applications – any one of whom would have been ideal. Written submissions were sent, telephone conversations had, face-to-face meetings took place, videos were watched, links were followed. Each candidate had the traits we were looking for. What a great problem to have! We were spoilt for choice.
In the end, we appointed three candidates, as we couldn’t choose between two for one role, and reluctantly rejected the remaining 37 candidates. The three candidates we appointed have turned out to be just the most amazing people, both individually and as a team (I’ll introduce them to you in a further blog!). Feedback from unsuccessful candidates was that they found the process open and inviting, and even tho they hadn’t got the job, many had increased their confidence during the process and found the feedback we gave them useful.
The process resulted in attracting a diverse group of ideal candidates, three amazing new employees, and 37 great advocates for Evenbreak, some of whom we can hopefully employ in the future.