Finding the Best People For Your Team
In theory, recruitment should be simple, and many managers perform the same routine: they write a job description, put an ad in the newspaper or online, wait for the résumés to arrive, and then hire the person they like the best.
It all sounds so simple. But there's usually more to the process just "picking the best." How will you know if a candidate is likely to get on with the rest of the team, or with your organization's culture? What if a candidate doesn't accurately describe their skills, and so, in reality, is incapable of doing the job? And how can you make sure that the best people apply for a position?
Recruitment mistakes waste time, money, and organizational resources, and they can really hold a team back. This is why learning how to recruit effectively is such a smart move for managers. Indeed, recruiting is one of the most important jobs that a manager does, and its one of the main ways in which good managers differentiate themselves from bad ones.
Why Effective Recruitment Matters
There are many reasons why it's worth the extra time and effort to recruit effectively. For example:
- The right people in the right roles will be more productive – They'll also be less likely to leave the organization. High staff turnover is a serious problem for you, as their manager, as well as for your team and your organization.
- A poor hiring decision may cause stress and conflict within your team – If your new recruit has personality issues or isn't a "team player," this may lower productivity for everyone.
- You'll save time and resources – Just think about the last time you or your organization made a hiring mistake. The person hired took time, money, and energy away from the team and the company for months, or even years. Plus, if you make a hiring mistake, you'll have to go through the recruitment process all over again!
So, it pays to put real effort into getting the hiring decision right.
The Open Position
Before you start looking for a new candidate, follow these steps:
- Speak with your human resources department – If your organization already has a recruitment procedure, make sure you follow it. Your human resources department can also provide advice and support during the recruitment process.
- Examine the type of role you want to fill – For instance, do you need a full-time team member, or would a part-time person be better? Is the role suited for contract or freelance work? (Freelancers are often easier to manage than permanent staff.)
- Create a complete job description – It's important to be as detailed as possible when writing this. An accurate job description will help you find the right candidate, and will communicate your expectations for the new role. (If you already have a job description for the role, this may be a good time to review it and update it.)
- Determine performance criteria – For an existing position, look at existing criteria, and any past advertisements your organization has used. If it's a new position, you'll likely have to create everything yourself. If you're the manager who will oversee the new recruit, what will be the person's responsibilities be, and what results would you like to see in the first month, first six months, and first year?
- Talk to the person currently in the position, if possible, or, if it's a new position, then talk to team members who are doing similar work. Make sure that the job description is accurate, and that performance criteria actually reflect the reality of the role.
- Gather information about your corporate mission and culture – Why is this important? Suppose your corporate culture is very rigid and strict. Recruits who come from organizations that are more relaxed or creative might not be happy with such a big change. So you'll need to address issues like these during the recruitment process.
Remember, the more information you and the candidates have access to, the likelier you are to find the right person for the job. So make sure that all relevant information is available.
There are now more options than ever for recruiting new staff. For instance:
- Print advertising – newspapers, trade magazines, and professional associations.
- Online – job boards, corporate recruiting sites, and your organization's website.
- Job fairs.
- Radio adverts.
- Referrals from customers, vendors, and current staff.
- Headhunter organizations.
You could also consider using social media – sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are becoming popular for recruiting. If your organization already uses these sites, it might be a good idea to use these resources to advertise positions, and to communicate with potential candidates.
When choosing where to advertise, make sure you consider the behaviors and habits of the types of people that you want to recruit. For example, if you're looking to fill a specialist position, advertising in a trade publication would probably be more effective than placing an ad in the local newspaper.
Our Bite-Sized Training session on Recruiting Skills includes a useful exercise on writing effective job adverts.
You've advertised the job, and you've received applications for the position. So how do you choose who to take on to the next stage of the recruitment process?
First, you need to eliminate any candidates who are clearly unsuitable for the role. For example, if the job requires a certain qualification, you can easily identify candidates who don't have that qualification, and exclude them from the next stage of shortlisting. And if candidates live beyond a sensible commuting distance from your site, it's often best to drop them.
Now go back to your job description and determine the skills and abilities that will be essential in this role. Then create a scoring system to help you as you go through applications. (Our article on Decision Matrix Analysis explains a useful decision scoring system.)
These guidelines will help you interview job candidates effectively:
Ask effective questions – One of the best ways of determining if a candidate will do well in your organization is to use behavioral interviewing. With this, you ask pre-prepared, structured questions that highlight things a candidate did in the past that demonstrated a key skill.
For instance, suppose you need someone who knows how to resolve conflicts diplomatically and effectively. In an interview, you might say, "Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict on your team. What happened? How did it turn out?"
Learn more about asking effective interview questions with our article Hiring People: Questions to Ask.
- Write things down – Many managers find the interview process to be as difficult for them as it is for the candidate! It‘s easy to get nervous, or lose your focus when conducting interviews, which is why it's so important to write things down. That way, you're properly prepared, and you don't forget what people have said.
- Look at the job description you created – Once you know what this role's responsibilities will be, describe your ideal candidate. Is the person aggressive and proactive? Should the candidate be creative, ambitious, quick thinking, or analytical? Will the person have to work on a team or work alone? Determining the ideal personality type will help you identify the best candidates during the interview process.
- Consider recruitment tests – These may help you discover someone's true personality, aptitude, knowledge, or skill level. But you must choose the right test for your situation. Our article Using Recruitment Tests guides you through choosing the best test for the role you're trying to fill.
You can also use recruitment tests at the advertising and shortlisting stages to identify any unsuitable candidates. This is particularly useful for popular job openings, where you expect a lot of applications.
- Let the candidate ask questions – Remember that the interview also gives the candidate an opportunity to ask questions to discover more about the role, the organization, and the culture. Encourage candidates to ask any questions they may have.
- Be consistent – Treat all candidates equally by structuring each interview in a similar way. Then, it'll be easier to compare candidates' suitability for the position.
Many managers make the mistake of doing most of the talking during the interview. Make sure you listen at least as much – ideally, more – than you talk!
It’s often quite difficult to manage an interview and scrutinize the candidate sufficiently at the same time. Consider having another manager or an HR representative join you in your interviews to watch body language and ask probing questions.
Offering the Job
You've found the perfect fit. Now what? How do you offer the person the job, and how do you inform the unsuccessful candidates that the position has been filled?
- Write out your formal offer – Put everything on paper, including benefits, vacation and sick time, and any sign-on bonus that you're offering. Also, state clearly when you need a decision on accepting the position (seven days is common).
- Call the candidate to say that your formal offer is on its way – It's likely that your candidate has had several interviews at this point. So, let the person know as soon as possible, to help ensure that he or she doesn't accept another job offer elsewhere.
- Inform other candidates that you've filled the position – Do this after your chosen candidate has accepted the position. Formal letters are sufficient for this. Make sure you thank them for their time, and wish them the best moving forward. Depending on your conclusions, you may also want to give them feedback on why they didn't get the position.
Common Recruitment Mistakes
Unless you work in human resources and you're recruiting all the time, chances are you'll make some hiring mistakes. Here are ways to avoid common mistakes:
- Don't just hire the best interviewee – Candidates may say, or do, anything to get the job you're offering. You should check how candidates will really perform on the job by giving them real-life simulations of the situations they're likely to face in their new role. Our article on Inbox/In-Tray Assessment shows you how to do this. You can use these at any stage of the recruitment process.
- Plan sufficiently – The more time you spend specifying the role and your perfect candidate, the likelier you are to find the best person for the job. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare, before you start the hiring process.
- Investigate the previous person in that role – If you're filling a vacant role, do you know why the last person left? Is it because they weren't a good fit for the role? If so, find out what the previous person did wrong, and why, so that you don't hire someone else with the same problems.
By learning how to recruit effectively, you'll save your organization time and money.
Start by writing a detailed job description, and include information about the corporate culture. Use a variety of methods to advertise the job, including social media if appropriate.
When you interview candidates, listen as much as you talk, and try their skills out with an example of the work they'll be doing. Effective recruiting reduces turnover and increases productivity, and it's one of the most important skills that you can have as a manager and a leader.