Assessing your applicants and offering the post

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In this section:


Screening Interview

Key Elements

Some employers use an initial individual screening interview with applicants to scrutinise the application form, identify any issues which require clarification, or gain additional information to establish reasons for breaks in employment or other matters which are not clear. This will be useful to inform your final decision.

It is an opportunity to ask applicants directly if they need to disclose any issues before safer recruitment checks are undertaken.

From the applicant’s perspective it is an opportunity to explain and expand on any omissions or errors in their application form.

Though less desirable, the elements of a screening interview may be addressed within formal/panel interview.

Links to further guidance and practice examples

Practice example 1 Interview screening pro forma


Practice example 2 Screening interview

Practice example 3 Screening interview


Further Considerations

Appropriate training for ‘screeners’ is recommended.

Essential skills for those screening include:

  • attention to detail
  • active listening
  • the ability to challenge
  • understanding of responses to questions for those applicants where English is not their first language.

Case Scenarios


Formal Interview

Key Elements

The process should be structured and address the competencies in the job description and person specification.

Questions should be behavioural and, where possible, focus on what applicants have done, not just on what they might do. Past behaviour is often the best indicator of future behaviour.

Where appropriate for the post, interviewers should follow up applicants' responses to questions and probe critical areas such as attitudes to punishment, conflict,  sexuality, management of sexualised behaviour, as well as the influence of their own experience (e.g. of being parented or of parenting) on approach to vulnerable people.

Although it is possible for interviews to be conducted by a single person it is not recommended. It is better to have a minimum of two interviewers.

The panel members should:

  • have the necessary authority to make decisions about appointment
  • be appropriately trained including for example, interviewing skills, relevant legislation including the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the Equalities Act.

In advance of the interviews panel members should:

  • reach a consensus about the required standard for the post
  • consider the issues to be explored with each applicants and who will ask about these
  • agree the assessment criteria in accordance with the person specification and agree how a record of the assessment will be taken (link here to policy section on online resource).

Links to further guidance and practice examples

Skills for Care- Values based recruitment and retention guide

National Care Standards

Practice example 1 Interview observer record 1

Practice example 2 Interview observer record 2

Practice example 3 Interview questions (care for adults)

Practice example 4 Interview questions

Practice example 5 Interview record 1

Practice example 6 Interview record 2

Practice example 7 Panel interview


Further Considerations

  • Provide the correct training to interviewers
  • Be prepared for all interviews by following the same structure
  • Questions should be competency/values based.
  • Have a  set  of role specific questions available for each role
  • Explore the applicant’s learning from previous experiences, lessons learned and areas for development

The interview provides applicants with the opportunity to explain/disclose any information. 

If an applicant discloses that they are subject to SSSC investigation or employer disciplinary enquiries or investigation, you should be prepared to explore the issues; consider this in your recruitment policy ( **link here to policy section for online version). 

Think about how to introduce discussions to explore applicants’ values. You may wish to ask candidates to discuss their experience of being parented or growing up. Some employers raise issues by referring to current events such as “I read about this matter in the newspaper - what do you think about that?”.


Case Scenarios


Assessment/Selection Centre Process

Key Elements

Assessment centres offer the opportunity to simulate aspects of the post in order that applicants can demonstrate their ability to respond effectively to them.

Exercises are based on competencies for the post, using post simulation exercises and trained assessors. 

Exercises might include written exercises, group and individual exercises, a presentation, an in-tray or planning exercise, and so on.  You should consider how to ensure applicants have the communication skills in the language to be spoken and written.

Some organisations use questionnaires to explore issues of attachment and trauma.

Links to further guidance and practice examples

Securing safer care staff report

Practice example 1 In tray exercise

Practice example 2 Support worker written exercise

Practice example 3 Support worker written exercise marking

Practice example 4 Written exercise


Further Considerations

The most important feature of exercises used in the selection of staff is that they must be appropriate for the post being filled.

Occupational testing brings a standardised and objective perspective to the selection process.  This can give an indication as to a person's capacity or propensity to think or act in a particular way.

Ability tests test aptitude and are designed to predict potential to meet post requirements. The aptitudes tested are usually verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning

Assessed group exercises: applicants discuss a presented scenario, these groups can be facilitated or not.

Written exercises: applicants provide a written assessment of a presented scenario or an account of a group discussion.

Role play: a simulated interaction with someone playing a vulnerable person, this can assess both the applicant’s initial actions and how they reflect on this afterwards

Organisation visits: applicants visiting the place where, if successful, they will work before the assessment centre and use their observations and reflections in a group or individual exercise.


Case Scenarios


Interview or Assessment Records

Key Elements

Scoring of applicants should be recorded and shared by interview panel members and considered alongside all available candidate information. This usually involves a combination of numerical scoring against indicators for each exercise or question in interview and discussion of implications of applicants' scores along with any feedback from the screening interview, if carried out separately from the formal interview, and the information available from the application form.

Apply scoring criteria to all applicants equally and without exception.

If the panel cannot agree on the most suitable applicant for the post,  or want to explore further with the applicant their suitability for the post, you may want to consider undertaking a second interview with one or more of the applicants. It is recommended that at least one interview panel member from the original interview should be on the second interview panel. If relevant for the post you could consider asking the applicants to prepare a presentation or written piece in advance. 

Links to further guidance and practice examples

Interview concerns example (St Mary’s Kenmure)

Interview feedback (St Mary’s Kenmure)

Practice example 1 Interview screening form

Practice example 2 Service user’s interview report


Further Considerations


Case Scenarios


Making an offer of employment

Key Elements

An offer of appointment to the successful applicant should be conditional upon:

  • the receipt of two satisfactory references 
  • verification of the applicants identity (if that could not be verified straight after the interview)
  • verification of qualifications (if not verified at interview)
  • a PVG scheme record check

You will need to include in your offer of employment;

  • conditions and contract of employment,
  • any requirement to have the correct visa and right to work in the country or requirement to continue to possess these 9 if they are for a time limited period), 
  • any requirement for the applicant to declare any new charges/convictions
  • any probationary period and how decisions regarding that will be made
  • any requirement relating to gaining and maintain registration with any regulatory body

Links to further guidance and practice examples

ACAS recruiting staff guidance - offer letter style guides

SSSC/CI joint statement - registration regulations

SSSC registration

Practice example Declaration

Further Considerations

Be clear about your and the employee’s responsibilities about maintaining registration, meeting qualification /post registration training and learning (PRTL) requirements.

If appointing to a post which requires registration with the SSSC, individuals only have 6 months to get registered if they are new to the post.

It is an offence to employ an unregistered worker beyond the mandatory registration date unless the provider has a reasonable excuse.

Organisation visits: applicants visiting the place where, if successful,they will work before the assessment centre and use their observations and reflections in a group or individual exercise.

Case Scenarios


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