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Hiring the right candidate

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One of the most crucial aspects of growing any business is hiring people who’ll add value to their new job and employer. Get it right and your business will prosper, but get it wrong, and you’ll take one step forward and the proverbial three steps back.

At the time of writing this, July 2018, it’s never been so important to get it right, because of the deteriorating candidate availability and skills shortages. Having less access to candidates can have a severe effect, and is restricting many businesses’ ability to grow. Although some companies are responding by raising starting salaries in an attempt to attract scarce talent, those who fail to hire will find it tough to grow.

However, finding the right person isn’t easy because it involves finding somebody who has the skills, knowledge and expertise to fulfil the role and fit seamlessly into the existing team culture and ethics.

From a best practice perspective, it’s important you start off by defining the role in detail. You can do this by asking yourself some key questions, including:

  •  What core skills are absolutely vital to carry out this role effectively?
  • What short-term projects will I need the candidate to work on?
  • Where will they fit into the business in order to complement the existing team?
  • Will they bring a value-added service to existing and potential new clients?
  • What do I really need from a new employee and is there a skills gap they can fill?

 

Interview format 

Comparing and contrasting candidates isn’t easy, but if your interview process is consistent, it’ll be much easier to reach a decision. Essentially, you’re looking for candidates who respect your profession, are willing, honest, reliable and determined and will add value.

We recommend asking your candidates the same questions, as this will help you compare their skills and expertise. The questions should relate to the role and responsibilities. You’ll also need to assess candidates’ previous work history (past behaviour is an excellent predictor of future behaviour).

Try not to interview candidates too far apart. If possible, keep a day or two free in your diary and then hold a series of back-to-back interviews.

A little tip for you: The more relaxed and informal the interview process, the more you’re likely to see candidates in their true light. Some people don’t perform well in structured and rigid interviews and a more informal setting will let their true characteristics shine through. What’s more, if a candidate’s experience is limited, key personality traits, such as energy, drive, tenacity, motivation and determination may win you over.

 

Interview questions 

Spend time with your preferred candidate in order to better judge their fit with your culture and environment.

A great idea is to ask them to spend half a day or a day in your office. Introduce the candidate to other team members, particularly the ones they’ll be working with, as their input is important. Get to know more about them and their capabilities by asking questions, such as:

  •  Can you give an example of how determined you’ve been recently?
  • What would your previous boss and colleagues say about you?
  • How will you gain the credibility and confidence of others?
  • What culture and environment suits you?
  • How do you take direction and how can we get the best out of you?
  • Why are you here?

 

Salaries 

Money is still a taboo subject, but it’s imperative to discuss salary expectations at the first and second interview stage. Over the last few years, we’ve seen numerous offers rejected due to mismatches between salary expectations and what’s offered after a final interview.

Be open and honest about the pay scale. There’s no point trying to attract a candidate who knows their worth with a salary that’s below market value.

Before you start the hiring process, know the market value of your role, as well as the going rate for your industry. If your salary’s wrong, you’ll attract the wrong people. Advertising your role with a specific salary or banding can help nip this problem in the bud.

 

Culture 

A cultural fit is often equally as important as a candidate’s ability to do the job. It’s important to assess potential employees in terms of how well they would fit into your company’s culture.

You want to hire people whose values are consistent with those of your organisation or at least a good portion of those values. If you hire candidates who don’t fit your culture, you’ll most likely end up with new hires who lack motivation and commitment.

The best applicants want to be part of a successful, innovative and forward-thinking company. If you want people to work hard and care about your company, you should be loyal to them. Reward them appropriately. A structured career path, promotion prospects, pay rises and other perks all have an important part to play. You’ll entice people to work for you and encourage them to stay with you.

 

Feedback 

Don’t underestimate the value and importance of providing feedback. Although there’s no actual obligation, it’s particularly appropriate if a candidate has attended two or more interviews. It shows goodwill and candidates will appreciate an honest and constructive analysis of their performance.

Providing feedback also creates a positive impression of your company and can only help you with future recruitment.

 

The offer 

Once you’ve decided who you want to hire, be swift about making your verbal and written offer. A delay may be a cause for concern with your preferred candidate and open them up to a counter-offer.

The offer letter’s normally issued once a verbal agreement has taken place. The more senior the role, however, the more time you’ll need to negotiate factors, such as additional benefits, notice periods and start dates.

 

References 

These fall into two categories – past work experience and personal. References from past employers can be valuable in the hiring process, but they’re becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of. These days, many of them provide minimal information, such as the start date, length of employment and job title.

Personal references, on the other hand, are easy to obtain but, in truth, are essentially worthless. There’s no valid reason to believe personal references will help you identify a high-performing employee, as friends are unlikely to write anything negative about their mates, are they?!

Of course, nothing should discourage you from doing a background check, but only consider it if it will really add value to your decision.

Another little tip for you: Obtain the references directly and not via an intermediary. Hearing from the horse’s mouth (so to speak) is far more informative than receiving second-hand information.

Without question, hiring is not easy. It’s an emotional process, and taking into consideration that even our closest friends will to some extent, remain mysterious and unfathomable, it’s virtually impossible to get it right every time. The unknowableness of other people means it’s nearly impossible to correctly judge someone. The advent of AI will not help either. However, by following the above guide can make the hiring process a tad simpler. Although the recruitment process may be time-consuming and take effort and dedication, when you get it right it’s nothing but an excellent investment of your time.

For more practical advice or to discuss your recruitment requirements with us, contact us today for an informal chat.

 

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