At VHA, we understand that spectacular care starts with our staff and service providers. With more than 1,100 personal support workers (PSWs) providing a range of in-home care services to a diverse client base, it is critical that we place the right people in this important position. The work requires a range of soft skills, which are the most difficult to assess in a typical recruitment process.
VHA’s Human Resources team recently collaborated with clients, supervisors and service co-ordinators to pilot a “circuit interview” process that takes PSW candidates through real-life scenarios. This approach gives candidates a more realistic idea of the nature of the work they are applying for. It also allows the circuit recruitment team, which includes clients, to see candidates in action – demonstrating their skills at interacting with clients in some challenging, but realistic, situations.
Once everyone completed the circuit, the team discussed the strengths of each candidate to differentiate between good and great applicants. “Clients and families tell us that they appreciate a flexible PSW who is responsive to their needs. Circuit recruitment goes beyond interview questions and lets us see an honest display of who the candidate really is, how they’d react in a sudden situation and how well they think on their feet,” says Beth Posen, VHA’s Human Resources Manager.
Michelle Amerie, a VHA client and a member of our Client and Carer Advisory Council who volunteered to participate in VHA’s circuit recruitment interviews, was enthusiastic about being part of the role-playing activities. “If we have a program that helps prepare a PSW for their job and makes sure they are educated about what we need as clients, then absolutely I want to help with it,” she says.
“Being involved in this as a client ensures that the PSW gets a more realistic experience. My vision and an HR recruiter’s vision are different when it comes to planning scenarios. And for me to come in and be a part of this whole program creates a more realistic way to find out how these situations would be for a client,” she says.
The circuit recruitment pilot proved to be a great way to reinforce VHA’s commitment to spectacular care and to involving clients in all aspects of our work. “The program is still a work in progress,” says Beth. “Our pilot results were really positive and helped us hire PSWs we are confident will have the skills and personality to provide the best possible experience to our clients and their families.”