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Safeguarding from interview to exit

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Safer recruitment practices help to make sure that staff, volunteers and trustees are suitable to work with others at the organisation and with beneficiaries. Safety should be considered at every stage of the recruitment process.

Before you use this page you should check whether you need any of these additional guides.

  • If you are new to recruitment then you should use our recruitment planning guide together with this page.
  • If your organisation provides activities for children (particularly regulated activities), you should follow detailed government guidance. This safer recruitment guide explains that guidance well (from NSPCC).
  • If you provide services focused on adults at risk, such as care provision, then this information about regulated activity with adults at risk may be helpful (from Ann Craft Trust).

Your recruitment and selection policy should cover all the areas that follow so that all staff and managers understand how to recruit people more safely and more fairly.

Role risk assessment

  • Have you looked at all elements of the job you’re creating to see if it has any safeguarding responsibilities and requirements?
  • Have you included those responsibilities in the job description and specification for the role?
Make a Day Better is a children’s charity that employs family support workers – it’s based in an area of high deprivation. The job description for the role says ‘the post-holder will have regular, family focused safeguarding training and should make sure they understand and work within the safeguarding policies of the charity’. The job specification includes safeguarding related elements under the heading of ‘essential’,  that cover working with families, a good understanding of safeguarding practice and an understanding of challenges children and families can face. It also includes safeguarding elements under the heading of 'desirable' as an understanding of the ‘prevent’ strategy.


  • Have you used the job advert to communicate your organisation’s commitment to safeguarding
  • Have you outline whether any pre-employment checks will be required?
For You organisation is recruiting for a project worker. The job advert states:
‘As part of our recruitment and selection process and commitment to safeguarding, we will undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check of all individuals in this role. This is because they will be regularly providing care to adults at risk. Any offer of employment will be subject to a satisfactory disclosure report.’


  • Does your application pack include the organisation’s safeguarding policies, procedures and code of conduct?
  • Have you included questions on the form which allow applicants to demonstrate their understanding of safeguarding as it applies to the role?
  • Have you asked questions about any personal relationships that could give rise to real or perceived conflicts of interests?


First, make sure you are treating applicants fairly.

  • Have you made sure that any questions about equality and diversity including access needs or disabilities are on a seperate form? This is important so you can remove the forms and people involved in selection do not see them until the end of the process.
  • Have you created a structured set of scoring criteria and removed identifying information from the forms so that you can reduce unconscious bias during shortlisting?

Then, make sure you are picking up any potential safeguarding warning signs.

  • Are there any inconsistencies in information or dates?
  • Are there any unexplained gaps in employment?
  • Are there repeated changes of employment?
  • Are there vague reasons for leaving?

If you find any of these in a candidate that you would otherwise wish to interview, then speak to the applicant directly.

Dareen Foundation is reviewing an application form for a grant assessor for their youth grants programme. The role does not have any regular contact with young people, but as the assessor is responsible for checking all applicants approaches to safeguarding and may make visits, a safer recruitment approach is taken during shortlisting. They answer a question about safeguarding well, giving an example from earlier in their career. However, there is a six-year gap in their employment history, from the last job to this application. They have written in the question which asks for an explanation of gaps ‘pursuing other goals’ which seems vague.  A phone call to the applicant discovers that they have been a stay at home dad during that period and were too embarrassed to put that into the box. They bring proof of that activity to the interview and are able to proceed in the application process.


First, make sure you have the right set up for the interview.

  • Have you got at least two people on the panel that are trained in safeguarding and recruitment?
  • Have you created open questions that assess the candidates understanding and experience of good safeguarding practice? Are they appropriate to that role?
  • Have you created questions that explore people’s values and push them to give examples of their actions?
  • Do you have the right skills for the question types you are using? For example, a type called Warner Questions, used by organisations working directly with children. However, they should only be used by Warner trained interviewers.
  • Could you include the people the candidates will work with? Either as a practical session, a representative on a panel or an informal discussion.

Worrying traits to watch out for.

  • Lack of understanding of safeguarding, or limitations to that understanding.
  • They don’t provide examples to support their answers.
  • Using inappropriate language to describe people.
  • Unwilling to follow rules, procedures or work with others.
Quias Association has a lot of roles. As it runs both ongoing advice services, publications work and holiday activities, it’s often recruiting different staff with varying levels of responsibility. To help its managers plan interviews it keeps a bank of 10 different questions and encourages panels to choose two or three that fit the role best.

Pre-employment checks

You should make all job offers conditional. They should depend on satisfactory references and pre-employment checks that are relevant.

  • You can use our guide to pre-employment checks and references to understand the different types of checks you can take and how to get the most out of references.
  • You can use our more detailed guide to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks to help you work out which checks are appropriate and legal for which roles.
  • You can use this guide to treating people with criminal records fairly to make sure you comply with the law on rehabilitation of offenders and don’t accidentally discriminate against people whilst safeguarding (from Unlock).  

Onboarding, training and support

All new staff, volunteers and trustees must read, understand and sign your organisation’s policies, as the first step in making sure they understand your safeguarding culture.

Then the onboarding and training process for each role should be chosen to be appropriate and proportionate to the role. This might include:

  • meeting with the designated safeguarding lead (DSL)
  • an e-learning session on who is at risk and how to respond to concerns
  • in house training run by the designated safeguarding lead
  • supervision sessions
  • a probationary period with a safeguarding focused review
  • exit interviews for leavers with safeguarding focused questions.

All new starters that are working with children or vulnerable adults should meet the designated safeguarding lead and undertake relevant safeguarding training according to the role.

The Darius Association for Adult Students makes sure all staff, volunteers and trustees attend an induction morning. They learn about the association’s vision and read and sign a safeguarding policy, code of conduct and whistleblowing policy on their first day. In the first week everyone does an e-learning safeguarding course. This covers the basics of what safeguarding is, who is at risk and everyone’s responsibility to respond to concerns. People who have roles where they’ll be in contact with adults at risk also have a face-to-face session with the association’s designated safeguarding lead. This is where they can ask questions, understand the behaviours they need to demonstrate, and understand challenges they might face. 

Exit interviews

An exit interview is your last opportunity to support your staff, help them feel valued and hear their safeguarding concerns. By asking the right questions at an exit interview, you can reveal problems that have been hidden previously. This can help improve safeguarding across the organisation, even if it’s too late to do anything for the person involved.

You may also discover that you find information that leads to you starting a new disciplinary or grievance procedure, or raising an historic safeguarding concern.

Page last edited Sep 30, 2019

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