The recruitment process can sometimes feel like trying to pick the winning numbers in the lotto. You know the prize is out there but there are also a number of other people competing to be the right person who will fit with the company and make an important contribution to the business.
Fortunately, there is nothing random about the proper selection process provided you follow the following hints and guidelines. (Sadly, it is not as easy to land on the winning lotto numbers, but the odds that you will get the correct person are in your favour).
Map out what you want
If you are recruiting because someone has retired or you are expanding the business, stop before you recruit someone to fill the post. Take the opportunity to sit down and map out what you really need in terms of skills and knowledge base to take the company to the next level. Look at the organisational structure and revisit current staff members to see if they can take on parts of the workload, and revisit job descriptions and person specifications before advertising the position.
This is where you must make sure that you have detailed job descriptions and application packs so people don’t apply for the post, and you find their skillsets do not match what you are looking for. Check that the technical specifications are up to date with both desirable and essential skills and abilities mapped across both personal and technical specs.
This can be really hard to define, but essentially, within a successful organisation, the ethos of the individuals (their behaviours and beliefs) should be in tune with the business’s core values and culture. It can be really difficult if, for example, you are running a creative and outgoing organisation but take on someone for whom working in this way is a real barrier. Getting the right person on board who will fit in with the existing team is very important and they also need to “get” the philosophy and values of their employer.
So, how to do this?
In the same way that you have mapped out the job specifications, you also need to include in the recruitment guidelines and application the practices and values that define the company you run. This should be articulated anyway in a clear and transparent way through all external communications, i.e. your website, social media and networking, marketing information, policies and procedures, etc. This has to be in the recruitment tools that you use, including the application pack. Don’t forget to place the job advert in the appropriate trade magazines or sector specific websites, as well as the general recruitment pages.
Involve the team
Once you have shortlisted your applicants, think about who is going to be involved in the interview process and what form that process is going to take. This very much depends on the job role and the sector you are involved in. An employer in the education sector might invite new teachers to take a lesson and observe them working with the students, for example, while a marketing firm might ask interviewees to prepare a presentation, and so on.
Whatever you decide upon, involve members of the team who will be working with the new employee, even if it is just meeting and greeting and taking them around the workspace. Staff will be able to gather valuable insight about each person and their reaction and interaction while taking the tour. When you then get them into the interview room, a good question to start with is to ask them what their initial thoughts were as they were being shown around. Interviewees do prepare stock answers which are easily recognised, but if you get a response that is specific to your organisation the likelihood is that you have someone who gets the culture of the business.
Stick to the process
Ensure that the process of conducting the interviews and shortlisting is carried out in a fair and transparent manner. Treat all candidates in an equal manner and stick to the letter of the law. The Australian Human Rights Commission issues clear and straightforward guidelines on their website so, if your business has to work to tight deadlines and long hours are required at times, for instance, you need to ask all interviewees the question in such a way that you are not discriminating against any individual.
Prepare the interview
When mapping out the requirements for the role, make sure that you have prepared questions that will seek to address whether the applicant is going to be the right fit. If it is a customer facing role, ask them to tell you about a time when they had to deal with a difficult customer and how they handled the situation. If it is a leadership role, the question can be around how they inspired a group or an individual who lacked motivation at work.
Make sure that you allow an appropriate amount of time for both the interviewer and interviewee. Block out time in your work diary and make sure that you have appropriate space where you can see each person individually for their interview. This will enable you to focus on the process and listen to the responses given to your questions. Interviewing on the hoof gives a bad impression of the company and you want to attract the right person who sees your business as a well organised and a professional place.
Last but not least, check out the references and make sure you have verified them; you can also think about speaking to people or companies who have worked with the individual in the past. In the creative industry there may be a product or project that you can see so you can test out the quality of their work as well. When you have undertaken all of the above steps, following the guidelines provided, you can then be confident of your ability to make an informed decision and find the right person who will be a good fit for your company.
About the author
Karen Hoogenbosch is the Director of Animal & Odd-Bod Creators, an Australian based company that specialises in high quality custom made corporate mascots and costumes. Having worked with a wide range of high profile clients and hundreds of community-based clubs, Karen knows the importance of having the right person for the job, especially when it comes to dealing with customers and company culture!