Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Discuss any aspect of applying for posts or courses (apart from the clinical psychology doctorate which has its own forum section), CVs, application forms, etc
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Ruthie
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Post by Ruthie » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:49 am

:lol: ! I wonder if anyone from clinpsy has been shortlisted :wink: !

Imagine facing Spatch on an interview panel! :twisted:

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Spatch
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Post by Spatch » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:59 pm

Day 4 - Interviews

10.00 am - Everything is on track. Relevant people notified and confirmed. I am fetching water, moving furniture and cleaning the office where the interviews will take place. Yep, why get a Band 3 cleaner/ porter when you can get a Band 7 to do it in style.

11.30am- Someone has turned up a good 4 hours before their interview slot. One of the secretaries has called me down, and not really being mindful, I come down wearing a pinny with Mr Muscle and a duster. I tell the besuited candidate (number 3) to hand their paperwork to the receptionist take a seat and make themselves comfortable. Number 3 sits down and wonders why she is taking orders from what is presumably the cleaner.

12:00. I join my boss, the HR lady and the service user representative who have already assembled in the office. The SU rep is called Anna and she is heartbreakingly beautiful. In fact I am scared to look at her incase my brain freezes and all I can do is blush. Unfortunately I didn't really prepare for this eventuality, but I console myself with the notion that she probably has a crap personality.

We go through the questions we are supposed to ask. My boss has a fever so asks us to take the questions between us. Anna and I don't really mind, but HR lady wants questions 1 and 5. No wait, she wants 2 and 6. No maybe 1 and 6. She decides eventually on 3 and 5 and possibly 4 if she feels up to it. Whatever.

12:30. My boss and the HR lady leave to discuss questions about HR regulations. I have my lunch in the office and Anna asks to join me. Somewhat dishearteningly in the next 30 minutes I find out she is funny, warm and thoughtful.

Damn.*

1 pm. We all get together for the first candidate. Number 1 arrives and sits down. We all introduce ourselves and we ask the first question. Number 1 is enthusiastic, self assured and knows her stuff. Unfortunately she says she hates statistics and wants to only do clinical work. Anna and my boss grimace.

Thats a "no" then.

1:30 pm-3 pm. Number 2 is cool. Number 3 is also cool (if not a little suprised to find out the cleaner introduced himself as a clinical psychologist). Both 2 and 3 answer well under pressure, give thoughtful answers and reflect well on their clinical and research experience. They also clearly know their stats and answer their research questions with ease. Better than I could have probably. Probably 2 edges out 3 but for each we think we probably have our new assistant here.

Anna, my boss and I are clearly impressed. HR lady is quite flustered for some reason I am not quite sure of.

3 pm- Breaktime. The notes on my lap are meaningless numbers and scrawl. My boss goes to get fever medication and HR lady asks Anna and I if she is doing okay. Apparently she has only been working here for 3 weeks and was worried she was messing up. I assure her that she is fine.

3:30 pm Candidate number 4 walks in. He is a much older man, quite gruff. He squeezes my hand until I fear it will break. He stridently voices his answers to our questions, like He-Man yelling "BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!". He has very, um, interesting views of service users, and his reply to my question about "power imbalances" is met with a blank look and confidently answers a completely different question.

One that I didn't ask.

4 pm. Candidate number 5 is also very good. Fantastic application form, a former assistant who has a very interesting and varied background. The panel sit around like primary school children at storytime listening to her rapt. Number 5 is surely the one!

4:30 pm. Candidate 6 is unnerving. Nothing you could stand up in court and swear to, but in a way that leaves you feeling uneasy. Its a mix of desparation and bravado, like someone told her to fake confidence at all costs. Its a pity as she probably could do well with her background, but she just seemed to use buzzwords and phrases instead of honest, thoughtful answers like candidates 2,3 and 5. Still, she was quite young and its probably her first interview or so, so hopefully she can fix this. At the end, my boss is less optimistic and shakes her head sadly. On the plus side, Anna did like her handbag.

5:15 pm. We the HR lady gives her sheets in and takes her leave. I notice she gave number 4 zero points. Unduly harsh I wish to protest, but this is not the time or place.

The remaining 3 of us discuss the various merits between 2,3 and 5. 2 is seen as more clinical worker than assistant material so is made reserve at this point. In the end we have to vote. I vote for 5, Boss votes for 3. Anna sides with me.

Number 5 it is.

6pm. I pack up my stuff and go down to leave. I feel on behalf of who turned up I did the right thing and gave them a fair crack of the whip. My boss will contact them later this week and do the paper work. Mission complete- until this time next year.

* NB. Disclaimer. All professional boundaries were adhered to. The service user representative was centrally appointed and had nothing to do with our service and will not be ever seen again. Issues raised are likely to appear in supervision in near future. Spatch adheres to the BPS code of conduct at all times.

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Spatch
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Post by Spatch » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:06 pm

Reflections after the event.

The assistant has been in post for some time now and a few things struck me. Reading back on my account, I feel it doesnt really hang that well together (mainly because of the confidentiality and anonymity issues meant things were anonymised, randomised and altered). The above account was actually based on several separate experiences in different services, and I was involved in different capacities in each, but there was huge overlap so I mixed things together, which is okay for the purposes of a narrative but doesn't give the authentic feel of what happened.

However, reading the new selection form for clinical training I do wish that the NHS would adopt something similar for their assistant psychologist jobs. Brief, specific questions in an easy to digest format would have made the task far more efficient and made the candidates think, rather than fire off a standard CV.

I am glad we ended up with our final selection, but I am fairly sure most of the people we interviewed would have done well in the post. That is frustrating for those people, but there is an element of luck and randomness.

I still felt I learned a lot, but yet still have much more to learn. Would any other selector be interested to give their own experiences?[/u]

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Post by Loula » Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:39 am

Spatch wrote: However, reading the new selection form for clinical training I do wish that the NHS would adopt something similar for their assistant psychologist jobs. Brief, specific questions in an easy to digest format would have made the task far more efficient and made the candidates think, rather than fire off a standard CV.
Is there no way that employees could do this when they adverstise the post? In the same way that a few posts are being advertisied asking for a statement about what the applicant would bring to the role (or similar) in 100 words- could they not ask a few questions like these? And then just have additional info at the end of it?

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Post by Milka » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:07 am

Having recently been involved in shortlisting myself I can now really empathise with Spatch's experiences. It was a very tedious process but it definitely taught me something about doing applications myself.

Being on the other side of the process has made me more aware how of important it is to keep applications form concise (the people selecting have to wade through dozens of applicants & wont take in all of your personal statement if you write a huge one), check the spelling & grammar & most importantly check that you actually meet the essential person spec & show on your form how you meet the person spec.

I know people are under time pressure to complete forms but it's so important to show your enthuiasm for the actual job you are applying for & show how your skills match the person spec. It's really obvious when people are sending out a generic application for every job they apply for and very offputting. I think it's better to keep it short, well-written & focused to the specific job, rather than listing everything you've ever done e.g. listing all your research experience & tests you have used for a job that doesnt involve research at all.

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Post by ell » Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:46 am

Hey Spatch, and others who have offered their perspective of the selection process,

Thanks very much for that honest and amusing account - it's given me a lot to think about! Interestingly, I always list all the assessments that I can do, so maybe I shall avoid that from now on! I look forward to writing concise and winning application forms to make other selectors have a harder job of rejecting me!

L

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Post by psy40174 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:59 pm

Brilliant post Spatch.

The next AP application form I fill out will start with re-reading your first/second posts!!

So far I have only recieved 2 interviews out of about 25 applications for AP positions. One, i was in the final 2, and the other i got/ am doing now :)

I always think about and look back to that first application I did that got me an interview, and it is definately the shortest one I've ever done. Will strive to be more concise!

You've also made me want nutella after reading one of those posts.

But seriousily, thanks so much for your account it really helps!

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Re:

Post by Ducky » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:08 pm

Milka wrote:I know people are under time pressure to complete forms but it's so important to show your enthuiasm for the actual job you are applying for & show how your skills match the person spec. It's really obvious when people are sending out a generic application for every job they apply for and very offputting. I think it's better to keep it short, well-written & focused to the specific job, rather than listing everything you've ever done e.g. listing all your research experience & tests you have used for a job that doesnt involve research at all.
Completely agreed. I'm in the midst of shortlisting, and it's been exhausting. I'm also stunned at the number of people who bother to send in applications without reading the job description and person spec. This is my first time getting involved in recruitment and I'm genuinely disappointed.

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Re: Re:

Post by BenJMan » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:33 am

Ducky wrote:Completely agreed. I'm in the midst of shortlisting, and it's been exhausting. I'm also stunned at the number of people who bother to send in applications without reading the job description and person spec. This is my first time getting involved in recruitment and I'm genuinely disappointed.
I think you need to be careful who you are disappointed in, the system is set up in a RIDICULOUS way that forces people to send in standard applications / badly tailored / rushed / every other aspect you wouldn't want applications at the moment. If organisations insist on closing applications within a few hours that’s all they are going to get, I appreciate the volume of applications is large (we have just recruited) but its swings and roundabouts, you either leave it open for a reasonable period and get the best applications, or you close it after 50 or so and get nearly all standard, generic applications.

The situations arises out of the level of competition and the fact that services don't feel they can dedicate the time to short listing from 200 applications, they create the pressure on candidates by removing it from themselves, so they are in fact at fault for creating the situation :P (Appreciating the mitigating factor of finding the time and resource to shortlist from 200). And even if your service is one of those that leaves the post open for a few days+ , those services need to be saying VERY CLEARLY that they will not be closing the advert early, otherwise people have come to expect them to close as the norm.

There have been lots of discussions about this theme on the forum over the past few years...
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Gilly » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:40 am

I personally think the best solution is a combination of only taking the first 50 or so applicants, together with having a pre-question about the post that stops people immediately firing off an application, and allows the selectors to see who has actually thought about the post in a meaningful way :)
You're not calling for help, are you?! ;)

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by BenJMan » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:54 pm

Gilly wrote:I personally think the best solution is a combination of only taking the first 50 or so applicants, together with having a pre-question about the post that stops people immediately firing off an application, and allows the selectors to see who has actually thought about the post in a meaningful way :)

I suspect what you would get is 50 questions followed by 50 standard applications again :P You'd just add 10 minutes before someone sent off what they would have sent off before for fear of it closing still.
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

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Re: Re:

Post by Ducky » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:36 pm

BenJMan wrote:
Ducky wrote:Completely agreed. I'm in the midst of shortlisting, and it's been exhausting. I'm also stunned at the number of people who bother to send in applications without reading the job description and person spec. This is my first time getting involved in recruitment and I'm genuinely disappointed.
I think you need to be careful who you are disappointed in, the system is set up in a RIDICULOUS way that forces people to send in standard applications / badly tailored / rushed / every other aspect you wouldn't want applications at the moment. If organisations insist on closing applications within a few hours that’s all they are going to get, I appreciate the volume of applications is large (we have just recruited) but its swings and roundabouts, you either leave it open for a reasonable period and get the best applications, or you close it after 50 or so and get nearly all standard, generic applications.
I definitely take your point. However, our position was kept open for about a week, and we accepted around 140 applications. Even the ones that were coming in later were often poorly prepared. I can see that there are problems in having candidates rushing through the application process and not having the time to mould their application, but my issue was more with the large number of candidates sending in an application which contained a phrase such as 'I would love to expand my experience in the mental health field' when it's not a position in mental health. That application hasn't been a good use of time for either the candidate or the recruiter. Perhaps candidates need to have a range of prepared applications for different settings/populations/ etc instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

On the upside, we had some impressive people at interview and recruited a great candidate, so at least I feel my time was well worth it.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by BenJMan » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:31 pm

Well you've done better than us, we shortlisted 15, 4 turned up to interview and only 1 was appointable for the 2 posts we advertised :/
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Ducky » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:37 pm

4 shows out of 15! That's incredible!

Out of curiosity, did you cut off applications after a short period, or keep it open and wade through the hundreds that arrive? We had a sorting criterion that we had to abandon as so many applicants failed to read and adhere to instructions ( :x ), thus I decided to keep the position open for longer - if we had kept it, I'm not sure we'd have been so happy with our shortlist.

So, does this mean you need to re-recruit for the outstanding position? Back to the drawing board!

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Re:

Post by SarahAA » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:25 pm

KAR wrote:I got a first for my undergraduate and am about to finish my masters in August (fingers crossed I get the distinction I've worked for). However, this does not seem to stand out to anyone as I have not yet got a job. I've been applying for years while also trying to gain some relevant work experience. I have done voluntary work with young offenders.

My current job, in a pub, is the same one I had when I first started at university. This is far from what I would like to do and there is absolutely no way I would stay there. I do, however, use the experiences I have gained whilst working in a pub in my applications. For example, I use the communication skills that I have learned and developed (I used to be incredibly shy) and that I can work with people at all levels (new starters, managers, company owners etc).

Perhaps my problem is a lack of experience. Friends of mine who got a 2:1 are all in better positions than I am now and not all of them had work experience either. I guess my point is don't give up.
This is a great thread!

Kar I am in a similar position with a 2.1. First job out of uni was support work which I did for almost 2 yrs and only left 5 months ago and then did voluntary experience with an organisation that empowers ethnic minorities to become more involved in the political process and media. Did some work related to that with empowering women. Thinking of transferable skills now!

Friends are well on the way in their careers...makes me wonder where I'm going wrong.

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