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I’m a shortlister, make my job easy!


We’re recruiting – exciting times! Now Ellie Wetz, Programme Manager here at the West of England AHSN gives top tips on how to get shortlisted for interview.

More team members means more resource, greater reach, wider networks and greater impact for the projects and programmes we manage. All good things.

However, recruitment can often be laborious and painful for those involved in the selection process. Good jobs (and we have good jobs!) often attract large numbers of candidates, which is brilliant. But it does mean that those on the shortlisting panel have to wade their way through high numbers of applications and make a swift but impartial assessment of the candidate’s suitability for the role.

Luckily, the NHS has a robust and transparent process for scoring and shortlisting applications. It’s easy; you assess each candidate against the essential criteria in the supplied Person Specification and you make a judgement on how strongly they meet it. Those with the highest scores get invited to interview. Simple. Well, so you would think.

The numbers of applications we receive that are unstructured, incoherent, littered with spelling mistakes and poor grammar and make little reference to the Person Specification is unbelievably high. Good candidates who may be perfect for the job do themselves a disservice by not applying care and attention to their applications and get swiftly cast in the ‘no’ pile. It’s such a shame.

So, why don’t you make this a pain-free process? Help us help you get a job. Follow these simple rules and get yourself an interview. This will be your time to shine and sell yourself to us (and similarly for you to assess whether we’re the right fit for you). So, when applying for a role make my job as a shortlister easy!

Answer the person spec.

In the ‘Additional Information’ section, systematically address each point in the person specification in the order in which they appear. Under each entry, give us real-world examples of when you have experienced that point/applied that knowledge. These don’t always have to be work based; you can reflect on any experience that you feel supports your application.

You may find it helpful to apply the STAR method when considering each point in the person specification. The STAR method is:-

  • S – Situation, background set the scene.
  • T – Task or Target, specifics of what’s required, when, where, who.
  • A – Action, what you did, skills used, behaviours, characteristics.
  • R – Result – Outcome, what happened?

Keep it brief.

We don’t have time to read War and Peace – give us the information we need as succinctly as you can.

Avoid repetition

Try and demonstrate breadth of knowledge and experience; avoid focusing on examples from a single setting or role, try and mix it up – give us variety!

Use spell check.

I don’t need to explain this one, do I?

Sell yourself!

Let your personality shine through. Make us interested in you; make us want to meet you in person and find out more about you.  Tell us why you want the job and why you think you’re the best candidate for the job (but avoid The Apprentice style showboating, we can spot the blaggers a mile off!).

Other top tips:

  • Do your research. Read our website. Learn who our commissioners are. Learn about our programmes and projects. Learn about our members and stakeholders. Work out what interests you about us.
  • Be honest. If you don’t have experience in a specific area, tell us. We can fill the gaps in your knowledge and give you opportunities to learn – an inquisitive, open and kind approach are qualities that are often more important than experience.
  • Where possible, accept all offers of informal chats or office orientations by the recruiting team.
  • If invited to interview be punctual, be smart, give good eye contact.
  • Don’t be shy – let your personality shine through and try not to let nerves get the better of you.

If you do apply for a job with us, I look forward to reading your application and hopefully shortlisting you. Good luck!

Posted on May 31, 2019 by Ellie Wetz, Programme Manager, West of England AHSN

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