The best person for the job

Tom Smyth & Associates offer some practical advice on how to successfully recruit the best available talent.

As a HR consultancy supporting over 500 locally owned retail, hardware, and hospitality businesses, we like to think we can spot trends that develop in the employer/employee relationship. Over the past 12-18 months, employees appear more confident in leaving their employer for pastures new than at any time during the past 10 years.

We write this article to encourage HAI members to examine their recruitment procedures, and advise how some simple but effective tips can help attract – and subsequently recruit – the best available talent in a market place that is definitely heating up, as well as where you need to stand out from the crowd if you want the best people.

The PR in Recruitment

Before there is a vacancy or a recruitment need, a business should be preparing itself by maintaining a good reputation as an employer. A social media footprint is something would-be employees may examine. Employers spend a lot of time and money marketing their products, so why not market your jobs and careers as well! Use your social media accounts to tell some good-news stories or case studies on excellent members of your team. Upload pictures from training courses or social activities. Make a person interested in your business before they need a job themselves!

Attracting Applications

When a recruitment need arises, challenge yourself on where to advertise to attract the right talent. Look at your best current employees and recall how they applied. Options include referrals from existing employees, a sign in your window, local press, national press, local radio, recruitment agency, recruitment websites.

Have an application screening process in place where you list the criteria you are seeking and impartially mark each applicant in line with this. Have a minimum threshold ‘score’, and only invite those above this for interview. If you have a high number of applications, select only the top few for interview. Have transparency in how you mark up applicants and always write back to unsuccessful ones, thanking them for their interest in your business.

The Interview

A candidate obviously needs to impress you at interview, but remember that you also need to impress them if they are to accept any offer.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail;

  • Dedicate a block of time to interviews and allocate generous timeslots to allow a robust interview take place. Allow extra time for making notes and marking a candidate.
  • prepare the room properly, with comfortable seating and water for all attendees.
  • Have 2 interviewers with a diversity of experience to challenge the candidate in different areas.
  • Read the candidates CV and have intelligent, relevant questions ready for them.
  • Pay attention to what they are saying. Do not switch off, even if you believe a candidate is not suitable. Remember you still want unsuccessful candidates to believe you were fair and professional in how you handled the process.
  • Have a consistent structure to the interview and divide up questions between interviewers. Start with introductions, the candidate’s CV, their last job, their skills in area A, skills in area B, skills in area C, offer them any questions, salary expectations, what happens now and end of interview.
  • Have a logical rating system for candidates, and mark them up swiftly once their own interview finishes. If you wait until the end of the day, all the candidates may blur into one!

Post Interview

  • Check references for preferred candidates. Ideally do not offer them a job, simply tell them you are advancing them to the next phase of the process which involves checking references.
  • Write to unsuccessful interviewees, thanking them for their interest and time.
  • If conducting a second interview, involve another interviewer to again offer a different set of eyes and ears, and challenge the candidate in a more scenario-based set of questions. Make it a more ‘on the job’ style of interview.

Commencing Employment

Hopefully, by following some of the advice above, you will have a better calibre of candidate but – upon their commencement – be sure to promptly present them with their terms and conditions of employment, handbook, safety statement, and all other required documentation and training. Include a probation period, and use this to communicate fairly with an employee on their progress in the role.

Naturally, the better you get at recruiting, the less likely it is that you will have probation-related problems, or indeed further issues down the line!

Finally, learn from each recruitment drive and adapt your process the next time.