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Section 4 – Recruitment tips

Most employers would agree that their employees are a significant factor in the success of their businesses. However, the appropriate level of care is not always taken over recruitment decisions and later on this can lead to problems such as staff who are dissatisfied with jobs which are not as they thought, or staff who are not suitable for the jobs they have been employed to do. The following guide includes some points to think about when deciding what to do when you review your current recruitment practice. This is just an outline and for more information, please contact the early years and childcare recruitment workers on 01454 868674

Job descriptions and personal specifications

A job description is intended to give information to potential job applicants about the role for which they may be applying.

The personal specifications should give details of what is actually required to carry out the post, such as attitudes, skills or particular qualifications and experience. Details of the desirable characteristics are also included. These are characteristics and qualifications that would help any new employee, but could be developed if necessary. Once a person specification has been detailed for a post, it is helpful during the rest of the recruitment process because the candidates can be measured fairly against this ‘ideal person’.

It may seem that job descriptions and person specifications are time consuming, but once they have been drafted they do make the recruitment process easier.


The aim of good advertising is to attract suitably qualified people to apply for the vacant position. This means your advertisement needs to be clear on the type of person required and the terms and conditions of the job, as well as being attractive and eye catching.

 Possible places to advertise include:

  • Local newspapers
  • The Business Team
  • Job Centres
  • Within the local community

Local newspapers

Newspapers such as the Bristol Post and the Bristol Observer are probably the most obvious ways to advertise jobs. However, these advertisements can be expensive and the small linear advertisements may be cheaper, but they don’t always receive such a good response.

The Business Team

We circulate a monthly vacancies bulletin. This is a free service and covers a wide area including libraries, health centres, colleges, schools and universities. This is good for all current job seekers as there are many avenues for them to see job posts.

Job Centres

In South Gloucestershire, we have job centres in Yate, Filton and Kingswood which advertise any vacancies for free. The staff will also be able to help and give general advice on all recruitment.

Within the local community

Advertising within the local community can be successful places, as many people will see the posts. This can be done in places such as post offices, libraries, community centres and shops.

The dos and don’ts of job advertising

When advertising, do remember to add closing and interview dates, so applicants are aware of when to make sure they have applied for the job by. Do make all advertisements as eye catching as possible. Try to use different fonts, colours and logos. Do make sure you use an advertisement pack, as this includes a form for responses to the advertisement. This is a fairer way to ensure all applicants will give the same information you require. Also, do remember to include information about your organisation and also to include the job description and personal specification with the application form, so the applicants know what they are looking for. Do not however add unrealistic or unnecessary requirements, as this may put off potential applicants.

Some employers choose not to give salary information in advertisements, but many applicants are discouraged from applying anyway. It is best to give salary information however, because if the salary if fairly low, this could put any potential applicants off and could waste their time and yours.


Once all of the applications are received, you may be in a position where there are too many applicants to select for an interview. If this is the case, you need to devise a fair method of selecting those for an interview and this should be related to the requirements of the job description and person specification. Even if you only get a few applications, scoring using a pro forma will identify whether applicants meet your minimum requirements.

You may get applications, but none may not be suitable. If this is the case, it is best to advertise again.

When drawing up a shortlist, you must not discriminate an applicant because of their age, sex, race or disability. For further information on Equal Opportunities, see Section 7. There can be some things, such as verbal communication skills or attitudes which cannot be judged from the application form. Therefore you need to ensure that any criteria used to select applicants to interview are fair. For instance, you may choose written communication skills, qualifications or factors relating to any previous employment history.


This is the opportunity to meet the candidates you have shortlisted and discover which of them is the most suited for your vacancy. It can be a nerve-wracking experience for both the candidate and the interviewer, so it’s best to prepare thoroughly beforehand.

Before interviewing any applicants, you should consider how you wish to structure the process. For example, as well as a formal interview, you may give candidates the opportunity of an informal discussion with other members of staff, or allocate some time for them to look around the premises. It is important to try to create a welcoming atmosphere for all applicants so that they can feel at ease.

You may feel that the personal approach of telephoning applicants to arrange an interview date and time would be appropriate so that they have a chance to ask any questions. You also need to decide how many people you will interview, but remember it can be off putting for applicants if there are several interviews.

Prior to any interviews, you should check through the personal specification again and decide which of the areas you can cover at the interview, for instance, communication skills or depth of experience in working with children. From these areas you can prepare a list of questions to ask all candidates and also an assessment form. Try to make your questions as clear as possible with a balance of open and closed questions, as well as some probing questions. It is also helpful to read through each application very carefully and highlight any areas specific to each applicant you want to query.

Wherever possible, try not to sit behind a desk as this creates a barrier between the interviewer and the applicant. You want to give a good impression so consider the room you will be delivering the interview in. Make sure that it is clean and tidy and you need to ensure that you won’t be disturbed during the interview.

The end of the interview should give the applicant chance to ask any questions that they may have, and you should give them an indication as to when a decision will be made.

Job offers

Be aware that both verbal and written job offers will form part of the employment contract and so it is sensible to plan carefully what you are going to say or write to the successful applicant. Job offers would normally be made subject to satisfactory references and police checks (e.g. DBS checks).

In addition, under current employment law, individuals should receive a ‘written statement’ of employment particulars within eight weeks of commencing employment. This needs to include:

  • the name of the employee and the employer
  • the date when employment started
  • the rate of pay, how pay is calculated and when it will be paid
  • hours of work and holiday entitlements
  • the title of description of the job
  • the notice period
  • place of work

It is the committee’s responsibility to carry out any grievance and disciplinary issues that may arise with the staff team and resolve them.

Please note that employment law is an area subject to change, therefore, if you are in any doubt about employment issues, consult the Useful contacts section.

References and police checks

References are an important part of any recruitment process, but particularly so in jobs working with children. However, in order for them to be really useful, they need to be obtained with care. They can be taken up before or after the interview process, either verbally or in writing. Generally, if they are taken before the interview, the applicants permission is obtained beforehand in order to avoid difficulties with the current employers. If references are taken verbally, then a careful note of the conversation should be made. However, referees may provide more information in a verbal reference and it is possible to seek clarification on any points of concern. A written reference may need a follow-up telephone call for this purpose, just to clarify.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Checks for managers and leaders should be obtained via OFSTED. Managers of the day care services, such as nurseries, out of school clubs and playgroups can obtain police checks on prospective staff through the Business Team. Checking times may vary but on average the time for completion of checks is 4-6 weeks.  


Although an induction is not always considered part of the recruitment process, it is a critical part of the introduction of a new team member. It is worth spending time on an induction because if it is handled poorly there is a greater chance the new person may not settle quickly into the job, or may not be aware of what is expected from them. This could then lead to poor performance or a high staff turnover.

Produce a pack or a programme that eases the new staff member, as nobody likes to be thrown into the deep end!

Below is a good recruitment checklist which could be used to good practice:

Recruitment good practice checklist Notes
Plan ahead a realistic timescale.
Arrange an interview panel.
Consider the job roles, number and type of person/people you are looking for.
Prepare job descriptions, person specifications, application forms, check list etc.
Advertise widely, including the South Gloucestershire Early Years and Childcare Vacancy Bulletin
Prepare a shortlist of candidates you wish to see
Send out letters/maps to successful applicants. Give a date and a time.
For interviewing: book room, warn other staff and prepare questions with other panel members.
Have health and police forms ready for successful applicants to complete.
When interviewing, be open and pleasant. You are ambassadors for the group.
Give everyone a date when they will hear from you. Don’t make it too long after the interview and use the telephone and back it up in writing.
Apply for references and send off police and health check forms.
Agree a start date and salary.
Prepare contracts and be clear on a probationary period.
Have a separate file for each member of staff with all their details.
Revise the induction pack and procedure
Give the successful candidate guidelines on working for you.
Decide if the contact details of unsuccessful candidates are retained by the group. If so, for how long, if not destroy as confidential waste.
Review your staff recruitment and development policy so that it provides a clear map to effective recruitment and retention.