Youth Interview Panel – SEND NEET practitioners
In March 2023, three young people who are Shout Out for SEND and We Do Care members helped in the recruitment process for two jobs at the Council.
The job role is called “SEND NEET practitioner”, and there were two positions for this role available. The role is about supporting young people with an EHCP to find suitable education, training, or employment opportunities post-16. The hiring team recognised the importance of young people’s input, as the appointed practitioners will be providing direct support to young people on a daily basis.
The Participation Team approached members of Shout Out for SEND Reps about this opportunity. Three young people chose to take part in the interview panel, all with experience of being NEET or with a passion for improving post-19 opportunities for young people with SEND.
Preparing for the interview panel
In advance of the interview panel, young people met online with Hollie from the Participation Team and learnt some strategies for how to conduct a good interview, including positive body language and how to communicate with candidates.
The group came up with 6 questions to help them identify the qualities they were looking for in the candidates:
- Tell us about your experience of working with young people.
- What made you interested in applying for this position?
- Please tell us about a time where you’ve faced a challenging situation involving a young person or young people and how you handled it.
- Tell us about your style of working and how this supports young people with SEND to feel comfortable and share their voice?
- What would you do if you were working with a young person who wanted to pursue education or employment, which may be different to what their parents want?
- If you were given a pot of money to help young people, what would you do with it and why?
The Interview Panels
The interview panels were held in person at County Hall. Hollie was present in the room during the interviews to support the young people but was not part of the interview panel.
The panel took it in turns to welcome candidates into the room and introduce the group, explaining the format for their interview. All candidates had been asked to prepare an icebreaker activity in advance which the group invited them to do at the start of the session. This was a chance for the panel to get to know the candidates before starting on the more formal section of the interview. This also formed part of the feedback and scoring that the panel gave.
After each interview the panel conferred about their feedback, with Hollie taking notes to help them organise their thoughts. At the end of all the interviews, the panel came up with joint scores for each candidate.
At the end of the day, the professionals panel and young people’s panel came together to share their feedback from the day’s interviews. Both panels were in full agreement about which candidates they felt were most suitable for the two SEND NEET Practitioner roles.
Nicola Partridge, Preparation for Adulthood Lead Officer shared her feedback as part of the hiring team:
“We were delighted to be able to use our Shout Out for SEND and We Do Care young people in our recent interviews. Having them as a panel in their own right demonstrated to our candidates that young people are at the core of everything we do in our work; giving them the opportunity to contribute to the recruitment decision was invaluable and their insight into each of our candidate’s suitability for the post was really useful. The candidates felt very strongly that they appreciated the role they were about to take on much more than it first appeared on paper. The young people were professional, challenging and inspirational and each of the candidates we appointed said how much they were even more enthused to take the role because of the time they spent in interview with the young person’s panel. I would highly recommend it!”
How did we listen, act and respond?
The hiring manager listened by ensuring young people fed into the recruitment process for this important role. The Participation Team helped to make this happen by facilitating a youth interview panel.
The young people were provided with the information, training, and resources that they needed to take part in this opportunity effectively, as well as the freedom to decide the questions and lead the interviews themselves.
The young people were supported by the Participation Team to process and articulate their opinions on the candidates and the responses that the candidates gave, so that their voices could be effectively heard by the hiring manager.
The young people’s panel provided their feedback and candidate preferences to the professionals panel at the end of the day after the interviews.
The feedback given by the panel to the hiring manager was used to help decide which of the candidates were offered the role. Their feedback was treated with as much respect and importance as the feedback from the professionals panel.
Feedback from the young people about their experiences of taking part in an interview panel and the value of their involvement, was also shared afterwards with the hiring team.
The young people were kept up to date with the progress of the recruitment process via email from Hollie.
On the day of the interviews, the young people were provided with a café lunch, a £50 voucher and a certificate to thank them for their time, effort, and valuable contribution.
Following the success of the interviews and feedback from young people about their positive experiences, the hiring team chose to invite back a young people’s panel to be part of the SEND NEET Lead Practitioner role in April 2023.
What the young people said about the experience
The young people that took part said the following:
“It went a lot easier than I thought it would. I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would.”
“Having young people on a panel I think is really important, because it gives them a voice. Afterall if anyone, particularly in local government is being involved with the lives of SEND people, their decisions, and their choices in their role with affect us. I think it’s really important to have our own views and our own perspectives over what is happening.” – Benjamin, Shout Out for SEND Rep
“I think it’s a fantastic role, it’s a fantastic opportunity and I think it gives young people a voice. Young people can feel like they are part of the job process, and they can then see what it’s like being on an interview panel. Seeing how other people react to them and whether or not they feel these people are set for the role they are applying for.” – Benjamin, Shout Out for SEND Rep
“We are able to actually see who these candidates are and make sure they are employable for the role, because you’re working with young people so you need someone that can communicate and be friendly and approachable for young people. I really think it’s important to make sure that young people are at the centre of their jobs.”
If you are interested in taking part in an opportunity like this one, please contact the Participation Team.