People Management: Three minutes with - Unji Mathur HR director, United Response

Why did you decide to recruit overseas? Like many organisations involved in social care, we were having real difficulties filling certain front-line vacancies, in particular support and senior support workers.

Why Poland? Poland had just joined the EU and it has high unemployment, about 18 per cent of the total working population. We were wary of appearing to drain skilled workers, so we deliberately targeted unskilled workers who shared our values.

How did you recruit people? We found out which papers people look in for jobs, placed an advert and also used a couple of Polish job sites. Then we held an open day in Warsaw to which about 150 people came along.

We later went back to interview 80 people over two days.

Was it more expensive than recruiting in the UK? Not at all. We had to organise it all extremely carefully - we couldn't run late because we had to catch planes back home.

The main difference is that we simply would not have got as many applicants if we had placed an ad in a British publication, not to mention the fact that advertising space is so much more expensive. Social care is a heavily regulated area, so we decided to run local criminal checks. This was cheaper and much quicker, with results coming back within a week. The whole process took about five weeks, which is the same as it would normally take here.

For all these reasons, it was actually more cost-effective than it might have been to hold interviews here in the UK.

What were the candidates like? They all spoke fluent English and we were overwhelmed by the general standard - so much so that we ended up offering jobs to 37 people instead of the 30 we originally planned.

Would you do it again? Definitely. In fact, we are planning to recruit from overseas again in the next few months, possibly in Krakow, which is also in Poland.

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