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  • Writer's pictureEvie Osbon

UPLIFT: Recruitment Processes

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Welcome!

 


For an audio version of this blog, please click this Soundloud link:


For an easy-read version of this blog, please download the file below:

UPLIFT Blog 1 Easy Read version
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I am Evie (she/they) - Lead Practitioner & Producer for ‘UPLIFT: Connecting Young Carers with Creativity’. (In the picture above, I am the adult grinning on the left...)


These creative diary entries are a way for me to reflect throughout the project and to share ponderings & best practices.


This will be one of three creative diary entries between now and the end of the project in early July 2022.


Diary Entry 1: Recruitment Processes


We recruited for the role of Project Coordinator & Assistant Facilitator in March and I was keen to try & make it the most enjoyable, easy, fair and non-hierarchical process as possible. This meant examining my previous experiences of being involved in recruitment processes.


As part of this reflection and in conversation with other Freelancers, I have collated two lists of Mind Out Theatre’s DOs & DON’Ts…


DO:

  • Provide a detailed job description

    • Split into KEY information (at a glance) - those that the role is still relevant to will then continue to read the further detail below - it can be a long document as long as it is clear, easy to digest and gives a sense of the company ethos!

  • Give at least 3 weeks (ideally 4) until the deadline to apply

    • People have busy lives and expecting responses at a click of a finger is not fair or realistic, perpetuating the power imbalance of the employer holding all the cards! Access needs including (but not limited to) dyslexia and care responsibilities could impact how quickly people are able to apply.

  • Provide all KEY DATES

    • It may not be possible to provide all dates at point of recruitment but, KEY dates are essential so that applicants haven’t wasted their time on a detailed application to find out AFTER that the KEY dates won’t fit into their schedule and vice versa - we would have been gutted to find the perfect fit to then realise (too late) that the successful applicant is unavailable.

  • Plan enough costed time to provide feedback to all applicants

    • If I had a pound for every email with the phrase, “we do not have capacity to provide individual feedback”. As a Producer/Project Manager leading a recruitment process, it is my job to plan for the feedback process. This includes considering the maximum number of applications that may be received and putting plans in place to be able to facilitate a meaningful application process that supports ALL applicants' professional development.

  • Offer the same type of interview to all e.g. all online or all in person

    • This promotes equity & fairness. It is also important, however, to be mindful of reasonable adjustments, asking for access requirements in order to understand how to make the experience more accessible for individuals.

  • Provide talking points or interview questions in advance

    • This means that the applicant can get a sense of what is coming, hopefully reducing anxiety and prep time.

  • Use the correct name of the applicant

    • This seems so obvious but really important to include - using the correct name, pronunciation and pronouns are extremely important so that people feel valued and respected.

  • Within the interview, contextualise the role within the wider project and explain other team members who are involved

    • Sharing is caring - being able to know who is part of the team may lead to future collaborations! Cross-pollination & contact sharing is exciting and important for everyone (early career Artists especially)


DON’T:

  • Opposite of all of the DO’s!!

  • Have only 1 interview date option

    • Flexibility for interview dates/times and an understanding that applicants, although they want to work with us, also have prior commitments or obligations and cannot drop them when we ask.

  • Expect applicants to prepare extensively for interviews

    • Applicants are giving up their free time / arranging childcare / re-arranging work / potentially giving up paid time to be able to attend - this is already preparation enough.

  • Assume that the job description clearly outlines the role

    • Allow time within the interview for clarifications and for the applicant to probe / ask questions to develop their understanding of the role in order to visualise how they would fit within the wider project.


A two-way street:


As a small theatre company and Freelancer, I would like to promote the idea that we don’t have to replicate the hierarchical structures of established arts organisations.


For our latest recruitment process, I set out to try (even though it’s next to impossible) to achieve a non-hierarchical application process. I think it's important to understand that people wear many hats and will bring a variety of experiences and skills, so the interviewer may be the ‘keeper of the keys’ for this particular job, but not ALL JOBS EVER. This mindset is something we want to hold onto as a micro-company on a limited budget. We set out for our application process to be an advert for the type of company someone will end up working for. Applicants are also checking if the company is right for them! Just because they are interviewing doesn't mean they are sold on the idea of working for us yet - they are interested and would like to know more to see if they are a good fit.


I set aside time (and included this within my paid Producer role) to be able to provide feedback for applicants (which 90% of applicants requested) and I encouraged applicants to provide feedback on Mind Out’s recruitment process (which 90% provided):

  • “ For your feedback I thought the recruitment process was clear, promoted equal opportunities and access, punctual, friendly and well organised.”

  • “ I found your application and interview process very open and friendly, setting out clearly for me what I would need to know about the role in the application and highlighting the talking points in advance of the interview. This allowed me to feel I was able to give myself the best chance to give a good application, and the best account of myself to you as the interviewers.”

  • “ Regarding the application and interview style I found it to be comprehensive and well thought out, I can tell that you feel passionately about the project and it feels very personal/important to you.”

  • “ In terms of the interview process, I thought it was really helpful having the talking points in the prior email.”

Promoting Equity & Fairness:

When I worked as an Assistant Project Manager in the construction sector, I worked on many high value tenders / contracts where I would create standardised ways to evaluate proposals / applicants to ensure that the evaluation process for shortlisting the suitably qualified contractors was fair. I decided to follow a similar evaluation process for this recruitment. Here is the scoring matrix that we used:



We decided it was important to have at least two people assessing applications - Joe Strickland (who is Access Consultant & UX Designer for this project) contributed to evaluating applications and carried out the interviews with me.


We knew we needed to score applicants based on what we asked from them (CV and cover letter), rather than being swayed by previous knowledge we had of the applicants' practice or work - we think that evaluating in a structured way, like this, reduces subconscious bias. Anonymising the applicants would make the process even more fair - this wasn’t possible due to having a small team, but I would be keen to do this in the future!

Best practice would be to provide applicants with the score weighting for each area (admittedly, I forgot to do this!)


It is also important to us as a small theatre company to be transparent about who applied & to reflect on how better to reach people from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences in future recruitment processes.

We had 6 people apply for the role, with 5 returning the equality & diversity monitoring form. Within our latest recruitment process:

  • 70% of applicants were female and 30% were male

  • 80% of applicants were under 34 years old

  • All applicants were either White English or White British

  • 20% of applicants identified as having a disability

  • 60% of applicants identified as heterosexual with 40% prefering not to say their sexual orientation

  • 80% of applicants described themselves as having no religion and 20% described themselves as Agnostic

  • 20% of applicants had care responsibilities

Whilst there is some diversity within our applicants, it is fair to say that some groups of people are disproportionately represented. How can organisations of my size effectively reach more people? As I continue to grow Mind Out Theatre, I want to address why this may be and reach out to other Producers and Creatives to share learning and resources.


Thank you to... Sarah Hailstones (our new fabulous Project Coordinator & Assistant Facilitator) Phoebe Wall Palmer (Strategic Producer) Joe Strickland (Access Consultant & UX Designer) for their input!




Sarah Hailstones. Phoebe Wall Palmer. Joe Strickland.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this first blog! Tweet or DM us @MindOutTheatre


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