Choose assessment methods
Good relationships and communication are critical for working effectively in disability. Using the NDIS Workforce Capability Framework (the Framework) as your reference allows you to assess these ‘soft’ skills. Using more than one assessment method gives you the opportunity to gain different perspectives about candidate suitability.
A capability-based approach
- Assesses applicant attitudes, skills, and knowledge, rather than relying only on their qualifications or prior experience.
- Gives applicants a realistic sense of what the work involves and what is expected of them, using practical, easy to understand language and examples.
- Gives applicants from other fields the opportunity to demonstrate their transferable skills and aligned values.
The Framework is a good place to start to see which capabilities are important for the role you are recruiting. You can’t assess everything so decide which ones are the priority and keep them in mind when designing assessment activities.
The assessment methods
In the disability sector, the most effective assessment methods are ones that closely mimic the real-life working conditions or scenarios and involve people with lived experience in the assessments.
In general, we humans are not as good as we think at judging who is likely to make a good worker through a single assessment process such as an interview. Each of us is influenced by our own biases and assumptions so it is a good idea to base decisions on more than one source of information.
There are different ways to assess applicants for a single role. The main methods discussed here are:
- Different types of interviews and interview questions
- Work simulations
- Psychometric assessments
- Referee checks
You will get a more reliable assessment if you do at least three - for example a structured interview, a work simulation and referee checks
Each of the methods is described below.
To plan a structured interview you can either ask candidates questions about their actual experience or describe a scenario relevant to the capability you want to assess and ask how they would respond. Think in advance about how your ideal applicant would respond to your questions.
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 a candidate’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 candidate would respond in a situation that requires the capability ‘Build my capacity to participate’:
- Situation: I have just moved into a new area. I am really interested in making new friends, but I don’t know many people.
- Action: Tell me what you would do to support me in this situation.
- Tell me why you think that is the best approach. What do you hope the results will be?
Find further information about developing interview questions, and some further examples, in the provider resources.
Values-alignment is an increasingly important factor for both employers and employees. You may want to explore this aspect as part of your interview process or as a separate informal follow up.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask:
- How would you describe your ideal workplace?
- Why do you want to work with us? What motivates you?
- What are your long-term plans?
- How would your co-workers describe you?
In the disability sector, assessment methods that closely mimic the real-life working conditions or scenarios can be very effective. They can improve your assessment outcomes without taking up much extra time if you prepare in advance. Check out the tips at the end of this section.
Based on the capabilities you want to assess, decide what kind of work simulation you want to use. Examples described in this section include:
- Role plays
- Group discussions
Role plays are useful to provide insight into how the candidate is likely to react in different situations. Design a role play to test the capabilities you want to assess.
For example, if it is important to test how a candidate will check in with participants you could set up a role play that involves an actor in the part of a participant who expresses their frustration with not being able to participate in a music lesson because it is held in a building with steps.
Think in advance of what your ideal candidate would do. For example, if they suggest they will take control, a better response would be to support the participant to take action to raise the issue themselves.
More complex role plays are useful for testing multiple capabilities.
This option involves providing the candidate with a written or verbal description of a scenario they may encounter and asking them to describe how they would respond. Requesting a written response is useful for roles that will require literacy skills. Requesting a verbal presentation can help assess communication and interaction skills.
If you are using a group-based assessment approach and want to test capabilities such as effective communication and collaboration, you could set up groups to undertake an activity such as solving a given problem or discussing how to handle a challenging situation.
The methods described above can be scheduled alongside the interview to make best use of time. Some practical suggestions are:
- Provide candidates with materials and instructions in advance
- Ask candidates to come in before the interview to allow time to prepare their presentation.
- Select options to suit the communication needs of the role. For example, if a role doesn’t require extensive written skills, avoid asking for written responses.
Involve more than one assessor
- In any assessment activity, it is a good idea to involve more than one assessor. It is always good practice to involve a person with lived experience when assessing candidates.
- Agree in advance on the criteria and methods to be used by each assessor and check for consistent application.
- Multiple assessors are needed to assess group activities in order to observe how each candidate performs.
Psychometric tests are evidence-based tests that can provide insight into a candidate’s capabilities and personality traits. Examples of abilities and personality traits that can be tested include EQ (or emotional intelligence), motivations, communication style as well as cognitive abilities.
Psychometric testing can increase the validity and reliability of selection decisions when used in conjunction with other assessment methods. It does involve costs, and is most often used when recruiting for more specialised and/or management roles. You may want to use psychometric testing as the final method when choosing between preferred candidates.
Worker screening is a way to help check that the people who are working, or wish to work, with NDIS participants don't present an unacceptable risk to people with disability. Worker screening is an important tool in the recruitment, selection and screening processes of an NDIS provider, and assists in the ongoing review of the suitability of workers.
Requesting information from referees provides valuable information because past performance is widely recognised as a good predictor of future performance. Reference checking is an important element in making a decision and shouldn’t be treated as simply confirming a decision you have already reached.
It is a good idea to start reference checking in parallel with the other assessment methods so that all the information is available at the decision point.
Remember to seek the candidate’s agreement to do checks as they may not want their current supervisor told they are applying elsewhere unless there is a strong chance they will be appointed. If this is the case, you could start by checking other referees nominated by the candidates.