Engagement in  Recruitment and Selection


We know that service users’ and carers’ have regularly said, that they can offer a different, but “valuable” perspective on the skills, and qualities required by students’ on health and social care courses.

Service users’ and carers’ can make an important contribution to the recruitment and selection of the “right” calibre of students’. However, it would be wrong to suggest this has been without a number of challenges.  This leaflet sets out the  key areas for  consideration,  and good practice guidelines  in preparing service users’ and carers’ for involvement, in all the stages of the recruitment process ( e.g. Marketing and Publicity; attendance at course open day; short-listing candidates ,  interview panels and student induction events).

A partnership approach to recruitment and selection: Firm Foundations

At all stages of the recruitment procedure service users’ and carers’ should be seen as an equal partner of the process.  The essentials for effective engagement, in this area are:

  • A database of service user and carers trained in recruitment and selection.
  • Service users and carers have undertaken equality and diversity training.
  • Reimbursement and travel expenses policy.
  • Service users and carers receive guidance on their 'role' in the recruitment process.
  • Respect for services users and carers contributions and time commitments.

Recruitment and Selection Process.

Now that you have identified your service users’ and carers’ and provided relevant training; their involvement can make a difference in the following areas:

  • Marketing & Publicity

Clear, informative, accessible and inviting publicity materials can help to attract interest in your course. The involvement of service users’ and carers’ can offer helpful insight during the planning, design and dissemination of course materials. Is it accessible?  Does the imagery or text promote equality?  Once you have agreed on the content of your materials consider the use of the media to recruit potential students. For example, a joint article with a service user and academic to promote the experiences of service users’ and carers’ in the local press.

  • Attendance at Course Information/ Open Days

Course open days offer prospective students an opportunity to ask questions about the course; and for subject areas to showcase the valuable role students’, service users’ and carers’ have played in the design and delivery of the course. An information pack about your courses with a list of frequently asked questions promotes a culture of collaboration and true partnership working with the service users’ and carers’ during a course information /open day.

  • Short-listing Candidates

Service users’ and carers’ can help to draw up criteria for short-listing students’ and jointly shortlist applicants. This can simply be a panel reviewing a sample of UCAS applications; in particular the student’s personal statement. 

  • Interviewing and Selection

Service users’ and carers’ can help shape the questions for the interview panel and be representative as an equal panel member.  Consider how service users’ and carers’ might facilitate a presentation and offer feedback on the candidate’s performance on a particular section of the task.  HEIs need to have a clear protocol on how disagreements between panel members will be managed. Make it clear from the onset who is accountable for the final selection decision based on validating requirements.

  • Induction of new students

At the beginning of the students’ journey, the induction helps the student to get familiar with who’s who and where to go for advice.  Engagement of service users’ and carers’ at this stage of the course can help to remind the student why they are on a health and social care course? The ‘expert’ experience is given centre stage. Yet, the intention is that the service user and carer voice will permeate throughout the course.

Case Study – Wolverhampton University

As part of the recruitment process, during the literacy tests for social work applicants we have invited service users to share their experiences of social work intervention and of social workers, in so doing, helping candidates to decide whether social work is the profession for them.

"Just by bringing academics and service users into close proximity to work on a joint project does not ensure that both sides will develop an increased or deeper understanding of service user issues. This relies on both sides being open to these possibilities"


Levin, E. (2004) Involving Service users and carers in social work education. Resource Guide 2. London: SCIE.

McLaughin, H. (2009) Service User Research in Health and Social Care. London: Sage Publications.