Top Tips for Employers to Making Your Recruitment More Inclusive and Fair

Posted on: 25 October 2021

Student Hubs has a long history of hiring talented early career professionals, and over the years, have supported a range of recruitment initiatives. This includes our Worthwhile training and recruitment programmes, as well as supporting a wide range of candidates at Student Hubs to take their first steps into the social sector. 

We pride ourselves on hiring candidates with the potential for greatness into our teams, giving them lots of opportunities for development and taking ownership of their work, and then sending them on their way to being change-makers and leaders at other organisations. At Student Hubs, we’re good at spotting and attracting talent, and have worked hard to ensure our recruitment practices are strong. 

This year, we decided it was time to overhaul our recruitment processes for all positions to ensure we were being as inclusive as possible. In this blog you can learn more about our practises and the changes we’ve made at the application, selection, and interview stages of our recruitment process. 

Application

The Job Pack: The job pack is one of the most important pieces of your recruitment in finding the right candidate. We make sure that we include all the important information about Student Hubs in here as we can’t assume that every candidate has the opportunity to dig and find information out themselves. We recommend that you include a bit about the vision, mission, and history of your organisation, as well as any relevant context that will help ground the role in what you are looking for (e.g. details about your strategy, recent funding, etc). You should ensure you have removed any jargon or organisational specific acronyms to ensure that everyone reading the job pack understands clearly what the role is. 

The job pack should also include all the key details about the role, including the specifics of the job description. There’s no use in just saying the role will involve fundraising as that could mean lots of different things to different candidates; be specific about the duties under each area of the role. Be clear about your essential and desirable criteria, and what types of experiences you’d like your candidate to have. 

Other tips: 

  • Don’t ask for a degree – seriously consider what having a degree tells you about the candidate and whether it’s relevant to the criteria of the role you are advertising. Individuals can gain skills in a variety of places outside of their degrees. Use language appropriate for the role – often it’s not that the role is specific for a recent graduate with a degree, instead it’s a role suitable for someone who is taking the first step in their career. 
  • Show the salary clearly – salary secrecy perpetuates pay gaps which directly impacts women and black candidates hardest. If you are working to create a fair and inclusive organisation, sharing the salary upfront is a simple first step to showing this commitment. 
  • Remove biased language – lots of terminology can be coded masculine or feminine or ableist, make sure you’ve checked to ensure your language is not leading for a particular type of candidate. You can run your job packs through sites such as this one provided by Totaljobs which will flag any biased language.  
  • Create your job pack as a Word document with a font size of at least 12 – this makes the job pack more accessible and readable by screen readers. You should also always offer a plain text version (such as a document with no formatting) as standard to support candidates to access and read the job pack. 

 
Advertising: It’s not enough to just create an excellent job pack, you need to ensure you are sharing it with the widest audience possible. Try and get it out to people who are not in your network already using job boards and a variety of social media networks. We know we could be doing better at this too, so we also collect recruitment equalities data to evaluate which groups of candidates we aren’t reaching. 

You should also ensure that you set an appropriate time frame for applications to come in, and stick to it! We try to ensure that the role is visible for at least 4 weeks before we close the applications and start screening them, this gives enough time for it to reach as many candidates as possible as well as giving them time to work on a high quality application. 

Selection

Selecting candidates to invite to interview can be rife with bias. When applications start arriving, we blind the CVs and cover letters by having all applications go into one central inbox monitored by a member of the team who is not involved with interviewing. They blind the applications by removing names, contact details, and social media links, and add it to a folder which is shared with the selection panel. Once the selection panel have chosen, we then share names and email addresses to contact them. It’s not just about removing names however, you should remove any identifiable information or any protected characteristics shared in the application. 

We ask for cover letters in which we state in the job pack what we want them to tell us (e.g. specific questions we want answered or areas we want to hear about) but we also accept alternative formats such as videos. This allows us to hear from candidates in the medium that they feel most comfortable in. 

When it comes to inviting a candidate to interview, as a Disability Confident Employer, we guarantee an interview for any candidate who meets the minimum criteria and shares that they are disabled when they apply. We also offer reasonable adjustments for all candidates, offering to move interview dates, times, and locations, to best support their needs. This could be because someone may have caring responsibilities, or a disability, but also in case of emergency, related to their physical or mental health.

To overcome biases we hold as individuals, the screening panel assesses applications based on a set matrix giving applications a score. Scores above a set number get invited to an interview. Scoring is done independently by at least two individuals when applications close to ensure all applications are treated the same. Additionally, everyone involved in the recruitment process undergoes unconscious bias training before being involved. 

Interview

There are lots of different ways to interview and for your role there may be specific things that need to be completed, but here are a few things to consider. Your interview should be a place where each candidate is given the opportunity to shine – remember you want them to do well. Here are a few ways to give everyone a chance: 

  • Make your interviews varied to ensure that everyone has a chance to shine in a medium that works for them. At Student Hubs we have three key parts to an interview, a scenario based interview, a competency interview, and an informal chat with other members of the team. This way we can see how candidates would respond to real challenges, hear about their different experiences and how it would apply to the role, and get a real understanding of their motivations and drive. 
  • Keep your interview structure consistent to ensure every candidate has the same experience, this will also stop your interviewers from forming any unconscious biases. For example, host all your interviews virtually as to not unconsciously favour any in-person candidates where you may accidentally learn more about them as you walk from the entrance to the interview room
  • When you invite candidates to interview, share the structure, competencies, and questions where possible. Sharing this with all candidates gives them the best opportunity to prepare for the interview and shine, getting rid of any awkwardness when candidates feel put on the spot and can’t remember any examples of their skills. 

Recruiting well is a key element of any successful organisation, if you haven’t reviewed your recruitment practises in a while, we invite you to do so. 

Student Hubs is running a series of ticketed webinars and workshops which you may be interested in, our upcoming sessions include: 

If you have recently hired a new member of staff you may be interested in our redesigned training support programme Worthwhile. Please get in touch with us at info@studenthubs.org to learn more. 

This blog is part of our Summer of Recruitment 2021 blog series. You can read our Top Tips to Ace your Application blog here.  

 

Simran Dhanjal

Sim Dhanjal is Student Hubs' CEO. She leads on strategy, governance, finance, fundraising and external relations. Sim started her social action journey as a student volunteer with Southampton Hub.

Tags: People and Culture, Social Impact Careers


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