Ten top tips to avoid recruitment headaches

Recruitment is expensive both in terms of management time and costs. We all want to employ people who are competent, motivated and productive, however, making a recruitment mistake can be both costly and damaging.

You may have experienced the results of a poor decision before now – with employees leaving after only a short time, never fitting in to the team, or being poor performers. On the other hand, you may have been running your business on your own, but need some help – you may think employing someone involves too much red tape or worry about the risk of being taken to a tribunal if things go wrong.

Many of these potential problems can be avoided by a robust recruitment process. Follow our ten top tips to avoid those recruitment headaches.

Top recruitment tips 

1. Before doing anything, consider your options. Is there really a job to be filled & if there is what does it look like? Too often, when someone leaves the first thought is to quickly replace them, merely dusting off the old JD, but this is the ideal opportunity to examine the job, its responsibilities and outcomes. Create a Job Description that is relevant to your business needs and one that accurately portrays the targets and outcomes that you expect to be achieved in this role.

2. Be clear about the attributes you are looking for in the successful candidate and draw up a Person Specification. This will describe the person most able to do the role and will give you a set of criteria against which all candidates can be measured objectively. Emphasise the “musts” and be clear about the “wants” – it’s unlikely that you will find a candidate that ticks every box so remember which skills are necessary at the start and which ones can be developed over time. Keep in mind the advice: “Recruit for attitude, train for skill”.

3. Think about your company image – your employer brand. Even the smallest of businesses have an identity and it is important to make sure that you give candidates a good experience from early on. It’s increasingly common for both employers and candidates to be checking each other out on-line and you want people to be saying good things about their experience with you. Treat applicants well - each step of the recruitment process will help them decide whether they want to work for you or not, and whilst we think that there is a rich pool of people out there who want our jobs, it is equally true that it is hard to find great people.

4. Look for candidates in the right places. The majority of job adverts are now on-line, but it is still important to know your market and advertise accordingly. A good framework for an effective advert is:
A Attract – those looking for it: job title, location, salary
D Deter – unsuitable candidates: detail the essential criteria
I Interest – yes this is for me: organisation, job, environment
D Desire – sell the benefits: Atmosphere, pension, career etc.
A Action – what do I do: write, e-mail, call

5. If possible use an application form rather than relying on CVs alone. Using application forms makes it much harder for candidates to hide gaps in their employment history and makes a fair comparison between them much easier. When reviewing these, ensure that the candidate has provided good quality examples of how they meet your criteria.  Look for applicants that demonstrate how their experience and achievements can be applied to your role.

6. Be systematic when shortlisting. This is a very important part of the recruitment process and although it can be time consuming, it is worth doing well. You don’t want to miss an excellent candidate or waste your time with someone who doesn’t meet your requirements. Consider using a shortlisting grid with clear scoring criteria.

7. Plan the interviews. Whilst interviews are usually the main part of the selection process, they are often poorly planned and handled. Remember, at the heart of the interview needs to be the search for experience, skills, qualities and attributes relevant to the position. It is not an exercise in trying to trip up the candidate. Plan the questions and make sure that you know what a great answer would look like.

8. Listen carefully to the answers. This allows you to pick up on comments and examples and tease out more information, it also allows you to see the candidate more fully in terms of their personality and attitudes. Use open, probing questions and consider asking technical ones where possible.  Try to avoid asking leading questions that give an idea of what you’re looking for in a good answer.

9. Remember to measure the candidates against the job and not against each other. You don’t necessarily need the “best” candidate, but the best for the job. Equally, don’t be put off someone who you think is too experienced for the role, they may have good reasons for wanting this position and you may get 110% out of them in return. Don’t be afraid to ask people back for a second interview if you are still unsure.

10. Never make an offer within the interview itself. Make an initial offer by phone and follow up with a formal offer. Follow up references to make sure that your impressions were valid – doing this by phone is often more effective as employers are often less candid when putting things in writing.


© HR Business (Cotswold) Ltd