Civil Service recruitment processes slammed by National Audit Office

The central government’s recruitment process is slow, expensive, and must become more effective, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has claimed.

A study found it costs between £556 and £1,921 to recruit each position in the central Civil Service. The costs could be slashed by up to 68%, delivering savings across government of up to £35m a year, without compromising the quality of new recruits, the NAO claimed.

The Ministry of Justice’s paper-based recruitment process was highlighted in the report as “unnecessary” and “labour-intensive”. The report suggested that online application forms and only contacting successful applicants, could save the department around £225,000 per year.

Tim Burr, head of the NAO, said: “External recruitment is a key component of ensuring that the Civil Service has the right skills and capacity to deliver. Departments often pay too little attention to how they manage the recruitment process. External recruitment currently takes longer and consumes more internal staff time than it should.”

Anticipating recruitment demands, using resources more effectively and, where possible, standardising the recruitment process – which currently takes up to 16 weeks – would help speed up the process, says the report.

Other failings in the Civil Service’s recruitment process included a lack of quality testing of the recruitment process and little information on staff turnover or surveys of candidates. The NAO questioned why managers were not routinely used to identify the successes and failings of the recruitment process.

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