Safer recruitment procedures
Having a safer recruitment policy statement in place is a vital first step towards keeping the children and young people who have contact with your staff and volunteers safe. But it's also important to establish clear written procedures and make sure everyone who is involved with any form of recruitment knows how to follow them.
These will ensure that staff and volunteers are recruited safely and fairly, and that children’s safety is being considered at every stage of the process.
Plan the recruitment process
Plan the whole of your recruitment process in advance to make sure you have a consistent approach every time you recruit a new staff member or volunteer.
Taking a planned and structured approach will help:
- minimise the risk of appointing someone unsuitable
- ensure you select the right person for the role
- make sure the process is fair
- make sure there are records of the process for future reference.
Following a written procedure also means you’re less likely to miss anything out and that each time you recruit you’re adhering to legislation and guidance.
Think about the resources that you'll need and how you are going to make them available.
This includes making sure enough people will be available to help conduct the interviews.
Define the role
For any role working with children and young people, both the role description and the person specification should highlight the safeguarding responsibilities.
Advertising the role
The advertisement is your first opportunity to send out a clear safeguarding message. Every advert for a role that includes work with children should include a statement about your commitment to keeping children safe.
If the role requires a criminal records check, this should be included in the advert.
You should advertise all vacancies to attract a wide selection of applicants – whether the role is for paid staff or a volunteer.
Applicant information pack
Providing an application pack ensures that people interested in applying for a role have all the information they need about your organisation and the advertised vacancy. It’s best practice to use a standard application form for all roles, whether paid or unpaid. This helps make sure you get all the information you need from each candidate. It should include space for the candidate to explain how they meet the criteria outlined in the person specification.
You should include an overview of your safer recruitment process so that candidates understand what information will be sought from them and why, and what will be expected of them at each stage of the process.
See our interactive elearning courses for scenario examples and more on how to prepare a successful safer recruitment process
Safer recruitment in education
Safer recruitment (non-education)
A self-disclosure form gives shortlisted or successful candidates the opportunity to tell you confidentially about any relevant criminal convictions, child protection investigations or disciplinary sanctions they have on their record.
You can only ask for the information you are entitled to know about as a potential employer. What you can ask for, and when, will depend on the role they will be doing. For more information about this, see our legislation and guidance section.
- ensures applicants are aware that you are entitled to ask for this information
- provides you with an opportunity to discuss and consider relevant information before findings from vetting and barring checks are received
- helps deter unsuitable candidates and shows that you take safer recruitment seriously.
Your safer recruitment procedures should set out at what point in the process you should request a self-disclosure form. It should also set out when you should open a completed form.
Self-disclosure forms contain sensitive, confidential information. Forms should be submitted in a separate, sealed envelope marked 'Confidential' or through a secure, online system. Your organisation’s policies and procedures on the retention, storage and destruction of records should set out in more detail the process for collecting, storing and disposing of opened and unopened self-disclosure forms.
> See our guidance on child protection records retention and storage
The self-disclosure form does not replace the need for a criminal record check, which should always be carried out as appropriate to the role.
The information provided should be considered as part of your vetting checks, applying a risk assessment process if information has been disclosed. You can find more information about risk assessments in the What to do if vetting checks raise concerns tab.
> See our example self-disclosure forms
Your application pack should provide information about how and when you will request references.
You should ask applicants to provide the details of at least two referees and check references as part of your vetting checks.
It's a good idea to give candidates an overview of the questions you'll be asking referees, so the candidate can consent to this information being provided. Make sure you ask about the candidate’s suitability to work with children and young people.
It’s best practice to use a standard reference form for all roles, to make sure you get all the information you need.
Some organisations consider carrying out a search of shortlisted candidates for any information that is publicly available online.
Online checks are not a mandatory requirement of a safer recruitment process, but it is important that you review your recruitment and selection policy and procedures and update it to incorporate the online search process if you are including this as part of your recruitment process.
If you are thinking about conducting online checks, you must let all applicants know that they will be subject to an online search if shortlisted.
Selecting applicants for interview
Shortlisting should be carried out by at least two people. They should each be clear about what their role involves and should assess each application form according to how well it meets the criteria set out in the person specification.
Preparing for interview
You should assess all applicants on their ability to carry out the role, based on justifiable and objective criteria. Plan a range of selection methods that are clearly related to the person specification.
At least two people should be on the interview panel and you should have a chair.
Agree beforehand who is responsible for ensuring all assessments are conducted fairly and candidates are treated equally.
Involving children, young people and their families in recruitment can be a really useful way of finding the right people for the role.
A question and answer format may not be the best way to test a particular requirement or competency. You may want to consider other methods such as a practical test.
Interviews to recruit people to work with children should always be conducted face-to-face.
Ask candidates in advance whether they have any access requirements for the interview venue and provide what they need. Give an outline of the selection methods you’ll be using and ask if they need any special arrangements for these.
Plan your questions in advance. Choose questions that relate to items in the person specification and enable you to explore the candidate’s suitability to work with children, their attitude and their motivations for applying for the role.
You should ask each candidate the same questions so that they are all treated equally.
Make notes during the interview. This will form the evidence for assessing each candidate after the interviews are complete. Use a scoring system based on the person specification and follow the same criteria for each candidate.
It’s best practice to use value based interviewing techniques, which will help you focus on each candidate’s values and behaviours (Erooga, 2009).
During the interview candidates should show that they are able to:
- establish and maintain professional boundaries and professional integrity
- establish and maintain relationships with children
- take action to protect a child.
Check each candidate’s identity during the recruitment process. The first opportunity to do this is usually when the candidate attends an assessment day and interview.
> Find out more about the checks you need to complete before taking on a new member of staff or volunteer
Making an offer
When you contact the successful candidate, make it clear that the offer is still subject to satisfactory completion of all the vetting processes you need to undertake.
See our interactive elearning courses for scenario examples and more on how to prepare a successful recruitment process
Safer recruitment in education
Safer Recruitment (non-education)