For some community groups, the recruitment and retention of staff (paid or unpaid) will be crucial to the delivery of services or activities. The recruitment and selection process can appear to be a minefield of legislation and potential pitfalls for your group, but getting the right people into the right jobs will make a major impact on how the organisation is able to fulfil its aims and objectives.

Recruitment will begin with your committee (or board) thinking about the job that needs to be covered, the duties this will entail and the type of skills and experience that will be needed to fulfill these. Employing someone can be a costly undertaking so make sure that you give the matter adequate consideration. What sort of pay scale should the post include? Can your group afford this?

If your community group employs paid staff then your committee needs to ensure that your group is complying with current Equalities legislation. Employers are responsible and liable for what employees do, unless they can prove they have done everything to prevent it.  In most cases, equalities legislation will be applicable to the recruitment, training or employment of unpaid staff (that is, volunteers), as well as paid staff.

Even in cases where volunteer recruitment is not specifically included, it is still good practice for your group to be aware of equalities legislation and to consider the implications and issues surrounding all aspects of equal opportunities.

Complying with equality legislation in relation to recruitment, means that you need to ensure that:

  • advertising avoids discrimination and vacancies are publicly notified

  • there is no discrimination (as defined by the Equality Act) in your selection procedure for choosing candidates for interview or recruitment

Where a job requires a person of a certain race or sex this is deemed to be a Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) and the position is exempt from the statutory requirements.

Exemption on the grounds of GOR should be checked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The recruitment process

Advertising the post

Make sure that your advert complies with equality legislation and does not discriminate against any potential applicants. If your group has received funding for the post, remember to include acknowledgement (in the funders required format). 

State the closing date for applications, and if possible the date you intend to carry out interviews.

Having an application form, rather than inviting applicants to send in CVs and/or letters of application, will ensure that you receive the information you need and it will make it easier to compare one application to another (making it fairer for all). 

Have the application forms ready to send out immediately after the post is advertised. You should also consider advertising the post online. In this case you can also make the application form, job description and person specification available for people to download electronically.

Shortlisting and Interviews

After the closing date, you will need to consider all the applications against the criteria set down in the person specification and make a short list of those applicants that you want to interview. Shortlisting should be kept impartial and it is a good idea to use a scoring system. Be realistic about the time you allow for each interview and set allocated timeslots – notify the shortlisted candidates.

It is a good idea to have a panel of people rather than just one person interviewing. Have an agreed set of questions (which can be divided up amongst the panel). The candidates reponses should be scored against the person specification in the same way as you scored for the short-listing.

On the day of the interviews, make sure that the room you are using is welcoming and that you will not be disturbed. Welcome each candidate and put them at ease before asking the interview questions. Always give them the opportunity to ask their own questions at the end and let them know when the decision will be made.

Once you have agreed on the candidate you want to offer the post to, phone them to let them know. Follow up references and let the unsuccessful candidates down gently. Give them constructive feedback where possible.