The appointment of Phil Neville as Manager of the England Women’s Football Team has, like some many things to do with the FA, become embroiled in controversy. One of the most revealing aspects of this decision is the recruitment process. Here, Martin Glenn, Chief Exec of the FA, outlines the process:
“A very broad and global (over 30 countries) review of potential candidates was conducted against our selection criteria – namely a minimum A-licence with a preference for a Pro-licence qualification, experience working at the highest levels of the game, and a preference for them being English. This produced 145 candidates which was reduced to a long-list of 47 for consideration. That long list was assessed and narrowed down to six names. Two of these candidates were female.
“The six candidates then undertook an initial interview, led by Sue Campbell, following which three external candidates and one internal candidate were identified for short-listing. This included two female candidates. At this stage it was made clear that as part of the recruitment process an extensive background check wpould be undertaken. For personal reasons two candidates decided to withdraw from the process at that stage. The third candidate went through the selection process, performed well, but on subsequent reflection withdrew their candidacy for personal reasons. As stated yesterday our internal candidate also decided against taking the process forward.
“Efforts to return to the other candidates proved unsuccessful for similar reasons. At this stage Sue identified Phil as a potential candidate due to his position as a Pro-licence holder on The FA’s Player to Coach programme…”
For anyone who’s ever been involved in recruitment (and that’s all of us in some capacity), either as a recruiter, a line manager or simply a candidate, the process seems to throw up a whole range of issues.
But let’s take you back to the job ad, which, like many job ads, set a very high expectation in the first place.
“You will be an outstanding football coach with a track record of consistent and successful management and development of elite players and coaches to high performance levels. You will have demonstrable understanding of international and Club Football and a sound understanding and knowledge of talent identification.”
Many comments have questioned whether the new appointment meets the ‘outstanding’ tag – and employers can often set the benchmark very high, simply by throwing around words such as ‘best’, ‘exceptional’, ‘brightest’ and more.
Did this affect who was shortlisted? Especially as men are more likely to identify with these phrases than women.
Then we come to the recruitment process – and the disclosure of the background checks. Now we don’t know why people pulled out at this stage; but again, should this have been mentioned from the outset?
And finally, it says that a global review took place across 30 countries, even though an English person was preferred. Why was time wasted going global?
One of the most worrying things in all of this is that it is quite obvious that people weren’t throwing themselves forward to do this job. Maybe too much media exposure, perhaps. Or maybe the FA have made their employer brand a little bit like their men’s football team – flattering to deceive.