Unique selection process finds top candidate

Unique selection process finds top candidate image

Stephen Czajewski joined the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC) this month following a unique appointment process that involved him being interviewed by people on probation.

The Community Rehabilitation Company launched a recruitment drive to find a top Chief Operating Officer earlier this year. The final two candidates were interviewed by a panel including Mark Northam and Dan Lee, who are both on probation supervised by HIOW CRC. The men formed part of a panel which also included staff from the CRC.

Stephen’s role includes leading the operations of the CRC and further implementation of Interchange. Stephen reports to Kim Thornden-Edwards, the organisation’s chief executive.

(photo caption (left to right) – Senior case manager, Sam Cherry and service user Dan Lee, who both took part in the recruitment interviews.)

He said: “The interview panel was an excellent idea and illustrates the innovative approach that Interserve is taking towards probation.

“Historically probation had a tendency to do things ‘to’ people rather than ‘with’. Service users have to be a part of the approach, and they have to be a part of their own rehabilitative journey.

“It was such a sensible, refreshing method to have both staff and services users ask myself and the other candidate questions.”

Rachael Loveridge, HIOW CRC’s Network Developer, organised the panel and facilitated the final round of interviews, which involved each person asking a couple of planned questions. The panel included CRC staff Sam Stitson, Sam Cherry and Rachel Dodson.

Mark, who is 60 and has been on probation and in and out of prison since he was 17, said: “It’s good to feel that you have influence and can be involved in a decision-making process that ultimately affects how people experience probation.

“We had a long talk in the morning about the questions we wanted to ask.

“I’ve committed petty crime all my life. I don’t drink or take drugs, but when you’ve got nothing you have nothing to lose. I’m doing well on probation now, and my belief is once you have a stake in something, then it’s possible to change your lifestyle.”

Mark became involved with the Open Doors charity in Portsmouth, and has undertaken training to become a peer mentor. Dan is on probation for a first time, having been sentenced for criminal damage and assault. He is a volunteer with User Voice.

He added: “I thought the panel went really well. Not only did we all get to ask questions, but the candidates were able to ask us about our experience of what the service is like.

“I asked Stephen what his ambition is for where he’ll be in five years time, and he replied ‘working with you as a member of staff, not as a service user’ – which I thought was a really lovely way to encourage me.”

Feedback from the panel was presented to Kim and Ian Mulholland, director of justice, for them to make the final decision.