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In this weeks blog we hear from Adam, who is an Assistant Psychologist for Autism East Midlands’ Clinical Team. Adam talks to us about values based recruitment and how the inclusion of service users in this recruitment process is extremely important.

Our values define who we are as people in our large and complicated social worlds. They influence our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and guide how we act not only in the workplace but in every situation that we encounter.

Within the Autism East Midlands Clinical Team, we understand that recruiting people with the right values ensures that the needs of the people we support are at the heart of everything that we do. As a recently appointed Assistant Psychologist, it is obvious to me that the compassion, empathy and understanding shared by the team is the driving force of our clinical practice. Great staff members come from a variety of backgrounds and whilst we recognise that skills and experience are of course very important, we realise that selecting candidates based purely on competency misses out on that key “personal touch” factor that is so important in Clinical and Educational work. Our values-based approach begins before the first recruitment advert and continues through the shortlisting, interview and selection process into training and staff management.

For us, values-based working means putting the needs of the children and adults we support at the centre of our practice. We want their voice to be heard and that’s why we make sure they have the opportunity to be involved in our recruitment process, from the ground up. Our service user forum has been used to help us identify what it is that our pupils and service users are looking for in a great member of staff. Through these forums, values such as being helpful, caring, fun, patient, friendly and a good listener were highlighted as things that are important to the people involved in our services. The Clinical team were then able to adapt their recruitment process, ensuring that these values formed a central part of our job adverts, interview questions and assessment tasks.

At the end of the day, Autism East Midlands would not exist without the wonderful people we support. That’s why the Clinical team have made sure that they are given the opportunity to play an active role in our recruitment processes. This year, Ben, a resident at one of our adult’s services has taken an active role in recruiting a new Clinical Psychologist and four Assistant Psychologists (including me!). Ben formed an essential part of the formal panel and contributed to the content and structure of the interview process. He was able to ask questions about things that he feels are important, and was able to offer an insight into the inner workings of services, which is something you don’t often get with these sorts of high intensity interview processes. It is vitally important to us that people like Ben have their voices heard and feel like valued members of the Autism East Midlands family.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of the interviewing sessions and I want to carry on and be part of it. I’ve met some lovely and brilliant people and I got on very well with these people. Some of them are still working at my placement at the Sherwood Centre, some of them have moved on to different placements, but I’ve really enjoyed their company and I still see them now and again.” – Ben

The entire process was unlike any interview I’ve experienced before, focusing almost exclusively on values. We were asked to give a 10 minute presentation about ourselves, answer a series of values-based questions, and finally complete an in-tray exercise designed to assess our skills and competencies. The questions threw me off at first as I had to abandon the masses of information I had memorised beforehand and talk about myself on a more personal level. It is clear that this values driven approach highlights the personality of potential recruits, and the inclusion of competency-based tasks ensures that they have the skills to back up their practice.

“Values based recruitment, that puts the students and adults who we work for at the centre of the selection process is a ‘non negotiable’ within our team. The work done by the Service User Voice Forums has had a positive impact on our recruitment process and on our Student and Service User interview panels. However Ben’s drive to be involved in the formal panel has moved this process to the next stage. His supportive approach to other panel members and his considered opinions have helped us make positive appointments to our Clinical Team. We look forward to other people who access our services taking an active part in the whole process too.” – Pat Smith, Clinical Team Lead at Autism East Midlands.

As a recent member of the Clinical team, I found the entire recruitment process at Autism East Midlands to be very personal and it really felt like the panel were trying to understand my personality rather than just my CV. It was wonderful to meet Ben at the interview; his positive and enthusiastic attitude really helped to put me at ease when I sat down with the panel and I instantly recognised that this is an organisation that puts the people they support above all else. Values-based recruitment and working not only helps to improve the quality of the service provided by Autism East Midlands, it cultivates a sense of encouragement, respect and confidence amongst the employees. I really feel like a valued member of the team here and it is amazing to experience the level of passion and dedication shared by all of the Clinical Team here at Autism East Midlands.

Adam Powdrill, Assistant Psychologist.