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Teenage interviewers are just the job in mental health recruitment

18 January 2017

Interviews for jobs in the mental health field are better for everyone concerned if young people with experience of using mental health services are involved in the process.

That is the conclusion of research being presented today, Wednesday 18 January 2017, to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in Liverpool by Sophie Allan and Dr Emma Hill from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

The two researchers evaluated seven job interviews where candidates had been questioned by a panel of young people with experience of using mental health services, as well as by a conventional professional interview panel.

The job positions involved ranged from consultant psychiatrists to receptionists.  The people surveyed consisted of 9 members of a young people’s panel (YPP), 13 professionals who had served on a professional interview panel and 14 job candidates.

The results showed that all involved reported benefits from the young people’s panel involvement, including that the young people's input was useful, they asked important questions and provided unique information to the appointing officer. Young people felt listened to and the experience had a positive effect on their wellbeing.

The analysis of the ‘free-text’ questions in the survey showed young people's panel gave added insight, acted professionally and were valued and important.  It also highlighted a need for minor changes to the process, such as clarification on scoring and weighting.

Young people said “I felt really positive about the process”, “our opinions were really taken on board” and “I have grown in confidence and self-esteem”. A member of the professional panel wrote that it was: “Very useful to hear the service users' 'voices' and to get a different perspective.”

Sophie Allan said:

“Including YPPs is standard practice in some child and adolescent mental health service teams, but very little is known about the effects and effectiveness of YPPs on the recruitment process. 

The project, to our knowledge the first of its kind to evaluate this work, provided evidence that using YPPs provides benefits to all involved. The growth in young people’s confidence from undertaking this work was remarkable. The project also gave recommendations for how to change the process, for example by devising a clear scoring and weighting system.

Young people’s questions such as “How will I know I can trust you?” and “would you treat me any differently if I told you I self-harmed?” aren’t necessarily something clinicians would ask directly, but answers lie at the heart of finding the best possible candidates. This project strongly supports the use of YPPs in the staff interview process in the future, both locally and nationally.”


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