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Forget the Oscars and Grammys, the real stars of 2020 are the courageous and selfless frontline superstars working within our care industry. Events like the Great British Care Awards give the opportunity for the brightest stars to shine, and really exemplify the role of the carer in a year where the sector has thrust into the spotlight.

Search Health and Social Care have been honoured and delighted to support these Awards for the second year running as part of the judging panel. We work across the country with carers who day-in, day-out, provide the vital support to the elderly, people with learning disabilities, and those with mental health needs. Our skilled support workers help families and individuals in crisis, often having to meet challenging situations head-on, to always put their clients first. “All in a day’s work” many of them will say, working unsociable hours for basic pay rates, limited by the stretched funding in the sector.

What strikes me as so special about the Great British Care Awards is the particular focus on individual workers within the great companies operating in the sector. This really gets to the very heart of the many acts of kindness, extra miles gone, voices raised, and problems solved – things that happen every single day, and yet go unheralded or unrewarded. And who better to tell those stories but the workers themselves… although self-promotion is often at odds with the modest and selfless people in healthcare!

As recruiters, it is fundamental to our jobs to both prepare candidates for interview, and to interview ourselves. When interviewing candidates for social care jobs, we use various techniques to probe and allow candidates the opportunity to present themselves in their very best light, drawing out their experience and attributes from real-life examples.

There are striking similarities, yet some differences, when comparing being interviewed for a social care job and presenting to a judging panel. One of the main differences is that the shortlist for awards are not self-nominated, having been put forward by proud managers, employees and clients. However, like a job interview, it is your time to shine bright and although self-promotion may not be a natural skill of carers who spend so much time empowering others, we recommend nominees follow some basic principles:

1.Don’t be nervous!

That’s easy to say, but different when faced with two judges, especially with one scribbling your every word on a clipboard. But remember this, the judges are taking part in awards because they want to champion your work. When judging for the finals last year, I was genuinely moved by each and every one of those we met that day- and if I was stony faced, I promise it was because I was trying not to cry! Every judge knows that you have been nominated because you are special, so relax.Let go of the imposter syndrome, you deserve to be here.

2.Listen to the question and answer it

In an ideal world, judges could sit awe-inspired and listen to you all day. Sadly, there are time restrictions on our meetings and to make everything about you has been covered, judges are prepared with six or seven questions that they will ask every nominee. In the nature of awards, there has to be a winner, and where everyone has the same questions, it is best to listen to the question, pause to think a second, and answer it as succinctly as possible before expanding on it. So, if asked a question like “What qualities do you think you need to be a good carer”, stop for a second, think of three qualities, list them and then give further details on each one.

3.Have examples ready

Interviewers recommend coming to interviews armed with four or five examples, and this is no different when presenting to judges. Listing your qualities is one thing, but describing how you apply them is proof that you have them! As a rule of thumb think of an example each for when:

•You have dealt with a challenge

•You have gone the extra mile

•You have shown initiative and effected change

Use the STAR technique to describe your example: Situation, Task, Action, Result. So an example of a challenge could be:

Situation: Working on a night shift with two staff down

Task: Having to ensure 30 residents had their night time routine

Action: Got heads together and held emergency meeting with all the staff, divided up the extra tasks, made sure everyone was clear on their duties, and felt supported and positive about the shift ahead

Result: Faced the challenges successfully and made sure everyone on the shift was thanked for their hard work!

4.Speak to your manager and colleagues first

Quite often if you are going to an interview you want as few people to know as possible until you hear the outcome. The difference here is that from the moment you are nominated, you are a winner! So it is really important to speak to whoever nominated you, be that your manager, a colleague or a client, and find out why they felt you should be put forward- and try not to blush when they tell you why! Something you have done that you thought is ‘all in a day’s work” may have been the very thing that prompted them to nominate you. If you can’t think of the examples you need- ask others to think of the times that you have stood out as an exceptional worker. And why not practice those examples with them? They will be willing you on to do your very best!

5.Be yourself!

Ah- what how-to list would be complete without this one? Following on from not being nervous, it is equally as important to be yourself. It’s not an exam, there are no right and wrong answers, and judges are not looking be wowed by highly technical or clever answers. You have been nominated for the individual that you are, so don’t ever try to be anyone different. As a carer, think about all the different people you meet every day- your colleagues, your clients, their families, other professionals… the people sat in front of you on the panel are no different from them and want to know about you, not someone else!

If you’re looking for your next superstar role with Search Health and Social Care, of if you’re looking to build a team of award winning carers and social workers, get in touch us today.