Young patients get involved in staff interview process

A recruitment training course for young people was launched by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) this month. The course prepares adolescents for the task of sitting on an interview panel, which the Trust will soon invite young people to do.

Amy Edwards, Children and Young People’s Participation Coordinator, and Alia Ahmad, Human Resources Business Partner, co-developed and delivered the training to a group of 9.

“We all know how daunting an interview can be”, Amy explains “so we want to make sure our young people understand what makes a good candidate and are fair in their assessment. We hope sitting on the panel will help our young service users with their own interview skills, as well as make sure we hire the right staff.”

Alia continues “Many of the young people in the room have never had a job or been interviewed before so the process is a bit of a mystery. However, they will have equal weighting on decision making so it is so important to get the training right.”

“Wider research shows that interviewers sometimes make up their mind about candidates in the first five minutes of an interview. They then spend the rest of the time looking for evidence to confirm their first impression, whether positive or negative. The training highlights some of these concerns and the importance of not making a recruitment decision based on personal feelings.”

The session starts with a group exercise where the adolescents have to note down what they think makes someone applying for a job look good or bad: “Presentation – not brushing their hair or wearing inappropriate clothes” were some of the definite no’s, no’s suggested.  Whereas: “Enthusiasm” and “the right qualifications” were positive reasons to hire someone.  Alia and Amy then explained the legal requirements that all employers have to follow and emphasised the need to avoid stereotyping and unfair bias.

Feedback from the first session was extremely positive:

“I’ve learned a lot about the interview process. It’s nice to know that young people can be involved!”

“Everyone was very nice. It was easy to understand, very useful.”

“It was really interesting listening to the different biases in interviews.”

When asked to rate the session out of 5, the average score was 4.4.

Amy said “It’s really exciting that we now have a group of young people, who have used CAMHS, and are trained and prepared for participating in staff interviews. As well as equipping young people with new skills and experiences, this demonstrates to candidates the value CNWL places on patient involvement. We were pleased to receive such positive feedback for this first session and look forward to delivering more in future school holidays.”