You’ve shortlisted the best applications, put an interview panel together, and grilled your candidates.
You’ve chosen your successful candidate, they’ve handed in their notice, and you have waited a month for them to start. The whole process has taken at least 8 weeks, probably more. You have had to take a day out for shortlisting and a day out for interviews. Your team has been one person short for a month and you are all feeling the pressure. After a long wait, your new team member is finally here and you are so excited to get started! But slowly, you begin to realise that they are not the right person for job and you are going to have to start all over again.
Getting the right person with the right skills at the right time is something that we see our customers struggle with on a regular basis. Recruiting the wrong person can be costly and time-consuming, not only in terms of the recruitment process itself but also what comes after, with inadequate selection processes increasing the likelihood of employers will experience issues with performance, conduct or attendance.
So what are out top tips for getting it right first time?
Consider the things come to mind when you the worst person that you have ever worked with. The characteristics that you focus on are things like rudeness, laziness, poor communication, micro-managing, and unreliability.
You tend not to think about the people that couldn’t use a particular system, or who were unfamiliar with a particular industry. Applying a competence-based approach to recruitment acknowledges that skills and knowledge can be learnt and developed, but attitude and the way the people work is much harder teach.
By using a competence framework to pin-point desirable characteristics (customer focus, creativity, accountability, resilience etc.) and recruiting on the basis of these, you are able to select for the behaviours that you want.
2. Really consider what you are looking for
Spend time crafting your person specification. This is what you will shortlist against, and it should set out the essential criteria that a candidate needs to meet. Keep it broad and think about the transferable skills that a candidate could bring to the role.
So for example instead of saying ‘previous experience working as a finance assistant’, you could say ‘previous experience of accurately managing numerical records’. In this way, you capture the essence of what is required but keep the criteria broad to attract applicants from a wide range of backgrounds.
3. Evidence, evidence, evidence!
How do you know that a candidate is like to behave in a particular way? Because they have behaved that way previously.
When shortlisting or interviewing, look for specific examples of where a candidate has behaved that way in the past. Don’t be fobbed off with hypotheticals or how they think they would behave, as it is very easy for someone to just tell you what they think you want to hear.
4. Think logistics
Draw up a strict timeline the process and stick to it. Find an interview panel and agree interview dates before you advertise so you can put it on the advert.
This manages candidate expectations, and ensure that the process is swift. We see too many great candidates lost because the process was delayed and they accepted offers elsewhere
5. Use a variety of selection methods
Too many employers rely solely on the interview to assess candidates’ suitability. In order to give you a clear picture of someone’s skills and abilities, use of a variety of selection activities is key.
Work-based tests simulate the real requirements of the job, assessing the knowledge, skills and competencies required. Other exercises test interpersonal skills. These can include:
- Written exercises (such as writing a report or a letter), which test the knowledge or understanding that forms the basis of the report or letter, and the written skills on the candidate.
- In-tray-exercises (where the candidate has to prioritise tasks), which assess adaptability and time/task management.
- Numerical or computer exercises, to test ability to work with numerical information or use certain IT packages.
- Presentations which assess interpersonal skills, as well as ability to research a complex topic and present information.
- Role plays, which give an idea of how a candidate might handle a situation in real life.
- Group exercises, which assess partnership working, communication and influencing skills.
A broad range of selection methods also has the benefit of promoting a more inclusive approach, as it allows different people to demonstrate their strengths in different parts of the process.
6. Use structured interviews that focus on competence
Use the interview as an opportunity to explore whether the candidates meet the competency requirements of the role. Craft your questions to focus on the key competencies, for example team work, problem-solving etc., and ask the candidates for example of when they have behaved in these ways previously.
Asking questions like ‘tell me about a time when you have had to manage multiple priorities to meet a strict deadline’ directs the candidate to give specific example that you can then probe about in more detail, for example ‘how did you manage expectations?’ or ‘what obstacles did you face?’
Past performance is the best predictor of future performance, so we want to know about things they have done before.
7. Thorough pre-employment screening
Undertake thorough referencing (and if appropriate DBS) checks. Remember, past behaviour is the best predictor of future performance to if there have been issues in the past, it’s more likely that there will be issues in the future. Don’t accept references that are anything less than good.
8. Induction and training
The recruitment process doesn’t finish when someone starts. Those first few weeks and months are really important in making sure that your new starter is engaged with the organisation, so make sure that you conduct a full induction and provide them with the training, development and support that they need to succeed.
9. Manage the probationary period
However robust, no recruitment process is full proof. Use the probationary period to manage any concerns that you have with performance, conduct or attendance. Remember that people are likely to be on their best behaviour during this time, so if you have concerns there is a good chance that they are only going to get worse. If the issues are minor, extend the probation to give your staff member opportunity to address these. Anything more than minor and you should consider whether they are the right person for the role.
Following these top tips will help you put together a robust selection process that will support you to get the right people in the right roles, and putting the time in at the outset will reap your rewards down the line. Real People are on hand to support you through all aspects of the process, from designing and implementing a competence framework, to shortlisting and sitting on interview panels. We can also offer support with the administration around recruitment, such as candidate management, interview offers, referencing etc.