Teenage interviewers are an advantage in mental health recruitment

Job interviews in the mental health field are more successful if young people with mental health experience are involved in the recruiting process

Research presented in Liverpool on January 18th by Sophie Allan and Dr Emma Hill from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in Liverpool backs this theory up.

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

The job positions ranged from receptionists to consultant psychiatrists.  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 young people’s input was proven to be most helpful as they asked important questions and also provided unique information to the appointing officer. Young people felt listened to and the experience had a positive effect on their wellbeing.

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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