Welcome to part three of our Small Business HR Masterclass. Today we’re talking about the beast that is recruitment.

Recruitment is incredibly time consuming and expensive, but done well, it is a worthwhile investment.

It can also be risky, and you need to be mindful of several legal obligations. For example, GDPR comes into play as you are processing candidate’s personal data. And if you cannot demonstrate objective selection, you could open yourself up to claims of discrimination.

So, if you want to hire the right person for the right job, make the investment of your time worthwhile. And better yet, get it right consistently so that the amazing employees that you hire are advocates of your business.

Do it well and you’ll soon have people lining up at your door for a job. Here are some pointers to get you started.

1. Carry out a job analysis

A what now, I hear you say.

This part of the recruitment process is frequently overlooked in a rush to fill a vacancy. This is a mistake.

Job analysis is a key part of the process as it ensures you know exactly what skills and experience you are looking for in the role. This means that you:

  • Understand the role fully yourself
  • Can write a robust and accurate job description
  • Can choose the best selection strategies

…and ultimately, that you hire the most suitable person for the position.

We wrote a more detailed blog post a few months back, which details how to effectively conduct a job analysis.

2. Write a strong job description

It’s important to remember that a job description exists for the lifespan of the role, not just for advertising purposes. So, you may refer to it during appraisals, or if you ever need to manage an employee’s performance. It needs to be clear.

For the employee, it needs to provide them with a reference point for their responsibilities. It also needs to set out your expectations as an employer in terms of the required level of performance.

A strong job description will cover the following:

  • Job title and department
  • Reporting structure and key stakeholders
  • Key areas of responsibility
  • Short-, medium- and longer-term goals
  • Required education, skills, and experience to perform well in the role
  • Soft skills and personality traits necessary to excel
  • Location and travel requirements
  • Remuneration range and benefits package
  • The organisation’s culture, mission, and values

Avoid using internal terminology, e.g., referring to your IT system by an internal name. And be realistic – it’s not a wish list for every skill that you want the ideal person to have, it just needs to outline what skills are required to perform the role well.

Top tip: It is vital that you check, check and check again to make sure your job description can not be construed as discriminatory. Not only does this limit the pool of candidates you’ll attract, but you could end up in hot water if a candidate claims they have been discriminated against.

You can download a template from ACAS, if you need a starting point.

3. Shortlist all candidates

It is far too easy to skip this step, but it’s a vital – if sometimes overwhelming – step.

Shortlisting demonstrates that you have taken an objective view of every application you receive for a role.

Once you have completed the job analysis and written the job description, it is advisable to use these documents to prepare shortlisting criteria. Alongside a simple scoring system, you’ll be able to determine which CVs demonstrate the skills and experience you are looking for.

And the highest scoring CVs are the candidates that you progress to the next stage.

4. Interviewing candidates

The role – it’s level of seniority, volume of roles to be filled, etc. – will dictate how you structure interviews.

It’s generally deemed best practice, if you have a large number of strong CVs following your shortlisting process, to carry out telephone interviews. This will save you a lot of time in sifting through a large pool of strong applications. And it’ll allow you to whittle down your list to the top few people. These are the ones you want to meet in-person.

Arranging interviews can be administrative and take a lot of time, so give yourself the time to plan interviews properly. Remember that the candidates you are speaking to are also doing their own assessment of your organisation. Interviews are a two-way street, and you need to portray a professional image.

Here are a few top tips for a great interview experience:

  • Prepare your questions in advance, again in line with the job description.
  • Don’t ask silly questions, such as ‘what type of biscuit would you be’. It’ll just make you look unprofessional.
  • Ask competency-based questions, or behavioural questions to get the candidate to provide real-life examples. Push them for a real example if they are vague.
  • Have water available for candidates – it shows you are thoughtful without the faff of making tea and coffee.

You may want to offer a tour of your premises, if you feel this is appropriate, to give candidates an idea of their working environment.

And always, always, ALWAYS make sure you respond to all applications. There is nothing worse than being ‘ghosted’ as a candidate, particularly if they have made the effort to come to an interview.

If you don’t, your reputation will suffer. Just have a read through Glassdoor and you’ll soon see why.

5. Assessments

For very technical roles, or positions at management level or above, you may want to consider additional assessments.

There are some useful tools out there, which will support you to hire the right person, first time. These tools and assessments can also help to weed out any unconscious bias that starts to creep in.

Psychometric testing is a popular assessment tool. It often tests areas such as mental agility or cognitive ability, and they are sometimes called aptitude tests. Often, they test for verbal or numerical reasoning, so they are useful if it’s vital to have someone who can write well or needs maths skills.

Personality tests can also be useful, if you’re looking for how far an individual’s inherent behaviours align to your company values.

You can also test candidates with your own assessments, sometimes call in-tray exercises. This can involve giving the candidate some information and time during the interview process to prepare a presentation on a particular topic, or to answer scenario-based questions. Activities like this will give you an insight into how the candidate works under pressure, how they communicate, and how they problem solve.

For more information or if you have any questions about recruiting, please do get in touch. Or why not add to the discussion on LinkedIn?

Join us for the next instalment, where we will talk about policies and procedures in more detail.

In the meantime, please check out our HR Consultancy Birmingham.