Taking the hit and miss out of hiring

The quality of the people who work for you is one of the most important factors in the success of your business, but recruiting can be a hit and miss affair.

All too often we hear clients complaining that they went to a lot of time and trouble to hire someone only to find that he or she did not live up to expectations.

Recruitment plan

You need strategies that will help you target and recruit the right people for your business first time round.

The key to successful hiring is to develop a recruitment plan that will enable you to:

  • Anticipate employee requirements
  • Target qualified candidates
  • Sort the winners from the losers in the evaluation process

Be ahead of the game

The worst thing for any buyer is to be under pressure to make a quick purchase decision without having time to investigate all the possibilities. It is important therefore to leave yourself time to shop around when it comes to taking on new employees.

If you are recruiting as part of a planned expansion this should not be a problem, but how do you go about replacing key employees who leave at short notice? In today's tight labour market a month's notice is often not sufficient time to find a suitable replacement.

With employees who are mission critical you might consider taking precautions such as:

  • Negotiating a longer notice period
  • Identifying potential replacements within your existing workforce and having them sufficiently trained to take over at relatively short notice
  • Preparing a contingency plan to provide temporary cover while you find a permanent replacement

Target your candidates

Employers often find they are forced to choose from a shortlist of candidates, none of whom really fits the bill. To widen your choice try:

Regular talent scouting

Don't wait until you need employees but keep a constant lookout for potential candidates. When you spot them, track their progress and be ready to make an offer if the need arises.

Casting the net more widely

Placing a classified ad in the local paper or in industry or professional publications is not the only way to find suitable candidates.

Try also:

  • Establishing an employee referral scheme where employees are rewarded for recommending suitable candidates (either from inside or from outside the business)
  • Including employment opportunities in your communications with your customers or clients
  • Contacting larger companies that are downsizing and asking them to recommend ex-employees
  • Looking in areas where there are depressed markets
  • Sponsoring scholarships, books, or other study opportunities at educational recruitment sources to establish your company/firm name among school leavers and college graduates

Selling the opportunity

The way you describe a position can make a considerable difference to the interest it attracts. You need to understand what your target candidates are looking for and show how the position you are advertising provides it - whether it is pay, hours, promotion prospects, benefits, the challenge of the job, or the workplace culture.

Check for authenticity

The first thing to do when you receive applications is to check them for authenticity. Many bosses have encountered serious lying on CVs. The most common inacuracies, in order of frequency, are about:

  • Previous experience
  • Higher educational qualifications
  • Salary
  • Secondary education qualifications

Moreover, an increasing number of candidates are presenting bogus degrees and certificates obtained from disreputable agencies on the internet and elsewhere. There are organisations that specialise in validating educational and other qualifications, and you might consider using them for key positions.

Asking candidates to submit samples of their work or participate in a test before any interview can also help to whittle down the shortlist.

Conduct effective interviews

To increase your chances of making the best selection, avoid common interview mistakes such as:

  • Personal bias
  • Undue emphasis on physical appearance
  • Gender, age, or race stereotyping
  • Superstitious theories
  • Making a snap decision before all the interviews are concluded

Have at least two people involved in the interview process, establish measurable criteria beforehand, and compare notes carefully before making your final selection.