People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins

Hiring the right person for a vacant position makes good business sense. A skilled employee who loves their job will be a huge asset to you, but good recruitment is not an easy task. A potential candidate may look brilliant on paper only to fall flat at the interview stage, or you may attract the wrong people altogether with a less than perfect job advert. Lets look at the recipe for a finding the right person and break down the ingredients…

A great description

The right job title is key. For example don’t name a position ‘admin officer’ if it’s for a marketing role or it involves a skill like debt collection. Candidates search online by using the words they expect in a job title, so make it crystal clear what the job is by naming it well.

  • Headline – Provide an enticing headline, you are trying to excite and draw attention so think of it like the front page of a newspaper.

  • Qualities – Consider what you need the person to do and make a list of the specific duties. A written description should be short, most people will skim read or get bored and stop reading half way through. It’s tempting to stuff it with detail but there is a lot that you can save for the interview stage. Your first task is to attract someone with the right skills and lots of enthusiasm for the job.

  • Environment – Describe the working environment, is it office based, is it in a retail environment, a warehouse or maybe it’s remote work. Say whether they should be good at working in a team, working in a shared office, on a shop floor, in an outdoor environment. It really matters where the job is based and whether there is a desk to sit at, a station to be manned or whether they are working from their own home.

  • Qualifications – know precisely what qualifications the new person should bring and be careful about asking for experience with certain computer systems, or machinery. If you are hiring an accountant, then asking for the relevant exam qualifications makes good sense, but if it’s a sales person you need, consider whether they really need prior knowledge of the stock control system you have or could it be taught on the job. It’s nice to hire someone who understands a system, but think about how important it really is. If you are hiring a sales person, their primary skill is sales, and you can question them (or test them) on their computer skills at the next stage.

  • Be accurate, and honest – The vacant position may be crammed with interesting stuff, but if they also need to take the bins out every day, this should be included. The same applies to working hours, and if there are times when you need staff to stay late to hit a deadline, or come in on a weekend, this should be stated upfront.

Consider past candidates

If you interviewed someone a while back and they impressed you but were your second choice, consider reaching out. There is a huge amount to be said for an emotional connection and if they tick all the boxes for this new position it’s worth a try. They stood out in your memory for a reason.

Interview day

If you are holding interviews in the workplace walk each candidate through the office or where-ever they might be working. It’s easy to just take them directly to the interview room, but why not allow a bit of interaction so you can judge their ‘people’ skills. You’ll also be able to gauge whether your existing team like the newbie. Notice if they ask questions about the working environment, this is a good sign and shows that they are picturing themselves in the job.

Find a quiet space for the interview and make the candidate feel at ease, avoid distractions and interruptions and thank the candidate for considering your business. Remember this is a two way interview. They chose to apply for your job and you chose to consider them for the role. Thanking them sets up good foundations for the interview and if you do recruit them, they will feel welcomed and valued from the outset.

Opening questions

Ask soft opening questions to make them feel comfortable, you want them to feel relaxed enough to be honest. A good opener is to enquire if they have a hobby or a particular passion. Then ask them to explain something specific about that hobby. If the candidate likes singing in a choir, ask them to teach you something you didn’t know about singing. This may seem like an irrelevant question, but how they answer will tell you if they are good at explaining something new and making it understandable. You will know if their passion is infectious and whether they can keep your attention. These are good social skills and invaluable for someone who will be working in a team, or dealing with customers regularly.

Types of questions

Be reasonable; don’t try to outsmart a candidate or bombard them with difficult questions. You will learn far more about them with a few well chosen questions about the role and their abilities. Putting them into a stressful situation will just make them feel alienated and they will clam up. You need to learn who they really are, so let them talk and listen to what they tell you. You will get a much better idea of their personality if you allow them to open up and freely discuss their ideas, feelings and values.

  • Problem solving – Ask how they would cope with challenging situations that the job throws up. Give them an example of a real life situation you have dealt with or ask them how they have solved problems in previous jobs. How they answer will tell you whether they have a logical approach. Ideally you are looking for someone who has a can-do attitude and doesn’t blame other people or situations.

  • Research – It’s good to know if they have done their homework and Googled you. Ask them what they already know about the company and why they want to work for you. They are looking for their ideal job, so if they did their research and they like you, this is good news. If someone is keen to be employed they will go the extra mile to find out as much as they can before interview day.

  • Opinion – Ask what their current company could do to be more successful. For this question you are just looking for positivity. If they say lots of negative things about their current situation it might be that they go through life being negative, or they don’t get on with their boss. This could be because their boss is difficult (difficult bosses do exist, and it’s a common reason for employees to change jobs), but listen carefully here, you are looking for someone who is upbeat and optimistic.

  • Work sample – Ask for a work sample, or give them a test. This is a good way of evaluating whether someone has the skills you are looking for. You might ask them to complete an assignment before the interview in order to create a short list, or you could administer an online test. In both scenarios you are looking for competency, accuracy and whether they can work to a deadline. You are also looking for someone who can offer new insights, and good ideas. Were they enthused by the task? It’s inevitable that some candidates will feel nervous, but you are looking for a level of excitement about the job you are offering and this should come through.

Wrong person

Never be tempted to hire someone because you are low on good options. If no-one you interview is right for the job then it would be unwise to appoint the best of bad bunch out of desperation. If you do, then neither of you will be happy and the work won’t be done to your satisfaction. If you feel that a candidate is only interested in the money this is a red flag, no one does a job for free, but if the only questions you get are salary based, it’s a sign they are not a good fit. If you finish an interview feeling dissatisfied this is another sign that you should not ignore, the right person will make you feel happy and optimistic. If you don’t get happy vibes from anyone you interview search elsewhere, or start the process again until you find a great candidate who makes you feel confident in their abilities.

The Right Person!

If you are lucky then the right candidate will shine through and become a valued member of your team. Start the journey on the right foot and this can be a relationship that serves you well for many years.

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