The hiring process

Last updated: 4th Nov 2021

The application process

You probably have a well tested approach to recruitment of new trustees. However, you might consider adapting it if you are aiming to recruit people with lived experience who may not be familiar with formal recruitment processes. Think about barriers that might prevent people from applying, or undermine their chances of success if they do apply. Through our research with people who have successfully applied to become a trustee, and organisations who have recruited trustees with lived experience, this is our suggested process:

  1. Advertise the role, going beyond your usual networks
  2. Set aside time for enquiries and questions
  3. Use a simple application format, including the option of a video application
  4. Set and advertise a deadline for applications
  5. Review applications, following clear decision criteria 
  6. Invite applicants for interview or informal chat
  7. Make your decision, with the reasons for your decision clear
  8. Inform applicants of your decision, with care and sensitivity if not successful
  9. Provide feedback to support skills development

The interview process

We heard about different approaches to interviews from Experts by Experience who had applied for trustee roles, though most said their interview had been informal and friendly. 

Based on our experience and research findings we make the following suggestions about the interview process: 

Explain what you plan to talk about

You should also cover how decisions will be made: share this information in advance, including guidance on the dress code and any preparation needed, and again at the start of the interview.

Be flexible

Offer the option of an online, telephone or in person interview and a range of times. If online, check there are no barriers to access, for example sufficient data and internet connection. Resolve access issues in advance and have a back up plan in case of technical difficulties on the day.

Pay expenses

Expenses should be paid for the applicant to get to the interview. You should explain in advance the process for claiming expenses and be specific about what will be included (for example travel and subsistence costs). Be prepared to book travel tickets or make advance payment if needed.

Put people at ease

Take care to be friendly and welcoming and conduct the interview in an informal way, bearing in mind that it is a volunteer role.

Introduce the organisation and the role

Give an overview of the work of the organisation and how the trustees contribute to that. Talk about the trustee role and what it involves.

Tailor your interview questions to the applicant

Use simple and easy questions that are tailored to applicants with lived experience and focused on the skills needed on the board. 

Discuss support needs and training opportunities

Give applicants the opportunity to ask questions during the interview. Explore what sort of support they might need, where they feel confident and where they might need training or other help.

Explain the next stages of the recruitment process

Ensure that applicants are aware of what will happen following the interview, including how the decision will be made and communicated to them and the timeframe.

Be sensitive if the applicant is not recruited

If an applicant is not successful, communicate clearly and with care how the decision was made in order not to undermine their confidence and self-esteem.

Give constructive feedback on the interview

Provide specific feedback on the interview process and learning points that can be taken forward and acted on in future interviews.


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