Using a two-stage screening process to select serious candidates

Abstract: 

This practice is one in a series of successful management practices that relate to Program Example: Salt Lake County Aging Services Senior Companion Program.

Over the past 25 years, the Salt Lake County Aging Services (SLCAS) Senior Companion Program has emerged as a highly effective program that connects the county's older population with its diverse array of aging services. They view their Senior Companions not as temporary volunteers who may come and go, but as valuable, long-term assets; selecting serious candidates is a priority. To this end, they use a two-stage screening process to ensure that only those who are serious about the program are selected.

Issue:

The selection of serious and committed candidates for volunteer service positions is a management issue that affects turnover rate, volunteer satisfaction, and, ultimately, client satisfaction.

Action:

Stage One
As a first step in identifying prospective companions, SLCAS screens out those who do not appear prepared to take on the challenges facing this type of position. When a candidate comes in for the first interview, the Senior Companion Program interviewer emphasizes the commitment associated with being a Senior Companion by describing the stresses inherent in this volunteer opportunity, including the need for patience and the ability to deal with issues such as dementia, lack of personal hygiene, and gradually declining health. SLCAS makes a point of not sugarcoating the demands of the position.

Stage Two
To further reinforce their commitment to accepting only serious candidates, SLCAS imposes a brief waiting period to give potential companions time to reflect on the responsibility of the position before signing on. Applicants must make a second visit to the program after their background check is completed to finish the application process.

Outcome:

When applicants have a clear picture of the challenges faced by the position, only the most serious and committed finish the application process and are selected as companions. SLCAS Senior Companion Program benefits from a highly stable member base, many volunteers who enjoy long tenure, and a client base that consistently reports a high rate of satisfaction with companion services.

For more information:

Website: 

SLCAS Senior Companion Program

Citations: 

Abt Associates. (2011, December). Serving communities: How four organizations are using national service to solve community problems. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service.


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