Recruitment & Selection

Recruiting and selecting staff can be a major source of stress. The process inevitably takes lots of time and effort. Sometimes recruiters are unsure what to do either before or beyond putting an advertisement in the paper and waiting for letters to roll in. And the worst of all is when, after lots of work, the outcome is disappointing – the ideal appointee is less than, has found another job whilst waiting for the interview call up, or stays for a few months and resigns.

There’s no magic formula that will make the process less time-consuming or guarantees stunning results. However there are a few actions to take and some to avoid that could increase your chances of success.

First up, ensure that the role is needed. Determine exactly what you want i.e. the key competencies, skills and experience the position must have, the key responsibilities, the performance indicators and the inter-relationships the role will have with others. Avoid guessing or rolling everything over as it has always been. Check it out. Your needs may have changed.

Well in advance, identify the interview panellists, their availability and the deadlines for the process. Ensure that panellists know what is expected of them i.e. in preparing questions, short-listing, interviewing and in conducting referee checks. Ensure that panellists know what they are to look for in short-listing – critiquing CV’s and letters of application. Schedule plenty of time to do what is needed. Resist the notion that it will just sort itself out or that at a moment’s notice, people will happily or easily fit into your schedule or come up with the goods.

Do write or update the position description, ensuring it accurately reflects what the role needs. Prepare interview questions and determine how the responses will be measured. Avoid using trick questions or loading five long questions on top of one another, just for fun. Encourage panellists to ask clarifying questions if they haven’t understood answers or find a question hasn’t been fully answered. The applicants should also be invited to ask questions of the panel.

Check the potential interview room, making sure it has appropriate furniture, lighting, ventilation, heating and adequate space. Ensure interviewees are not exposed to extremes of heat and cold; uncomfortable or dirty seats; blinding lights or glary windows. Ensure that the interviewee can see all the panellists in one glance.

Do set a realistic timeframe for the process. Allow sufficient time between placing an advertisement and the cut off date for applications. Move quickly from the cut off date to short listing; to inviting potential applicants to interview; to interviewing; to referee checking and to final decision making. Resist the temptation to fast track the process i.e. you’re breathing, you’re available, you sound ok, you’ll do. Conversely, don’t stretch the process out for months either – potential applicants may lose interest or interpret the silence or delays as meaning the organisation is uninterested or disorganised.

Do run through the process with the panellists before you interview. Ensure that they know how to conduct a formal interview and know the difference between appropriate questions and those that are inappropriate and/or unlawful. Determine who will fetch the applicant, lead the interview, take notes, ask particular questions, show them around and off the premises. Avoid including panellists who won’t stick to the game plan or can’t present a professional image of the business.

Remember that interviews are a two way street. Just as you are gauging whether an applicant is suitable, interviewees are doing the same thing to the panel. Ensure panellists know the dress code expected on the day – dirty shoes, bobbly socks, torn hems and food stains are best avoided. Ask panellists to be aware of their body language and to maintain signs of engagement, encouragement and interest throughout the interview.

Take notes in the interviews, so you can recall who said what to which question, even after ten interviews. Ensure your decision making is based on the needs of the role and only relevant factors. Conduct referee checks and be sure to ask the same questions of each referee. Appoint the best person for the position. Once the successful applicant has accepted the position, send ‘thank you but regrettably…’ letters and CV’s back to unsuccessful applicants and those who failed the short-listing process. Remember that potential applicants will assess your business from their very first and subsequent encounters. Treat them with the same courtesy that you expect from others. Keep clearly in mind the public relations image of the business that you want projected and act upon it appropriately.

And the next important step? Develop a comprehensive induction programme if you haven’t already got one, and thoroughly induct the new appointee into your business and their role. Spend time taking them around, introducing them to colleagues and guiding them into their position. Offer them every assistance. This will enable a new employee to be supported and fully functional as soon as possible and will enable you to reap the rewards for all your effort.

First Published in NZBusiness February 2002�

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