Choose assessment methods
This section explains some of the different ways to assess candidates and provides tips on how to put them into practice. For information on more formal approaches, check out the section prepared for NDIS providers.
For all assessment methods, make sure you (and any other assessors) take notes of applicant responses and your own observations as you go, especially if you are assessing more than one applicant. It’s easy to forget or confuse what each applicant said or did when trying to decide on the most suitable person.
A capability based approach
Selecting workers who you can connect and communicate well with is often more important than selecting based on being able to do practical activities such as cooking or shopping. The NDIS Workforce Capability Framework (the Framework) describes expectations about ‘how’ as well as ‘what’ support is provided. Using it to plan your assessment approach will help to check for these essential ‘soft’ skills.
There are different ways to assess applicants for a single role. The main methods, discussed here are:
- Different types of interviews
- Practical exercises or sample tasks
- Referee checks
Each of the methods is described below. Using more than one method can help you to make a more reliable decision.
To plan a structured interview, you develop a set of questions and think in advance about how your ideal applicant would respond. Ask the same questions of all applicants so it’s easy to compare their answers.
The Framework provides many examples of practical behaviours you would expect from a capable worker. You can use these to develop your own questions.
Here’s an example that draws on an applicant’s actual experience to explore the capability ‘Engage and motivate me’:
- Tell me about a time when you had to encourage and support a team member or a friend to do something they didn’t think they could do. How did you go about doing that? How did they respond and what happened?
The second example below uses a scenario to explore how the applicant would respond in a situation. You ask the applicant to imagine how they would respond, even if they have not had experience of the situation you describe. For example, using the capability ‘Build my capacity to participate’, you might ask:
- I have just moved into a new area. I am really interested in making new friends, but I don’t know many people.
- What would you do to support me in this situation?
- Why do you think that is the best approach?
Practical exercises test the applicant has the practical ability to perform task. It is also a chance to see ‘how’ they do the task as well as ‘what’ they do. Deciding what task to use depends on the requirements of the job. For example, you could ask them to demonstrate their approach to support you to make a cup of tea. This would give you a chance to see how they approach the task and whether they make a good cup of tea!
It is a good idea to ask your candidate to provide at least one or two referees. You can do this when they first apply or when you have shortlisted them for possible employment.
Referees can provide useful information about an applicant’s past performance. This is valuable information because past performance is widely recognised as a good predictor of future performance. It’s a good idea to use the information from a reference check to help you to make your decision on which applicant to choose rather than to simply confirm a decision you have already reached.
It’s important to inform applicants when and how you will be contacting their referees. This is not only polite but also increases the chance that you will get a timely response from referees. Be mindful that some applicants won’t want you to contact their current employer unless you are seriously considering offering them the role.
The best way to conduct referee checks is to have a two-way exchange that allows you to ask follow up questions rather than relying on written references.
Remember to let applicants know when and how you will be contacting their referees.