How to Recruit - The least you should do....

Employing people was never easy. Perversely, it's more difficult now because there are more candidates than jobs, but there are simple steps any employer can take to reduce the risk of appointing the wrong person...

OopsHaving said that, there's a lot of steps to take, but they will help engage candidates interest and increase the chance that the right candidate will survive the process and want to join you. The world is littered with lost candidates whose heels have cooled because they've not been handled properly - or gems missed or lost along the way - This is just the least you should do if you're going to DIY...


  1. Don't under-estimate how much time any recruitment will take. I guarantee it will take longer than you think. Don't look at recruitment as a side-show. Commit time in your diary and don't let that be taken over by answering your emails.
  2. Decide exactly what the job is about. Don't just recycle the old job description. Time's moved on. Decide what you need now and not what you wanted 6 years ago.
  3. Define your minimum skills and experience standards. Don't be too greedy as you may discover you've given yourself a straight-jacket which is very tight across the shoulders. Consider if this is an opportunity to strengthen your gene pool with something a little different and new.
  4. Write the Job Description. Make sure the responsibilities are clearly explained and dovetail with the other people they'll have to work with when they start for real.
  5. Write a Job Profile. This is not the same as the Job Description. A Job Profile is the  first item any candidate should read. It's less dry than a Job Description and is written in a brighter language. It's almost a sales brochure. Just ask if you need a draft example.
  6. Work out how you're going to excite candidate interest. When, where, and how, are you going to advertise? Or will you pay for and search on a CV database? You might think you'll find candidates for free on LinkedIn. You might do, but how will you reach them and engage their interest? - Can you begin to see why this might take longer than you thought?.....
  7. Write the Job Offer now. Yes......NOW!!!! Don't leave it to the end. It won't get done. Or some HR clerk will cut and paste an offer for another role and a mistake will slip through you'll live to regret. Trust me. It will happen. I've seen it far to often to know otherwise. 
  8. Decide on the interview process. How many interviews will you hold and with whom? - and when? Then get those involved to write the dates in their diaries now. In ink! Get their commitment. Don't let them wriggle free.
  9. Decide exactly what you'll tell candidates about your organisation. This is important! It's all very well telling candidates that everything is rosy, but not if they find something quite different on their first real day. No surprises!
  10. Be honest with yourself how much this is really going to cost - and put it in your trading forecast. Don't tell me you don't do a forecast. I don't believe you....
  11. Then be honest about what else this will cost as your attention is on this recruitment. Will sales be off?...Will your debt collection suffer?....Will your customer contact dilute?... that sort of stuff. Then include that to your forecast.
  12. Finally, wonder if you've bitten off more than you should be chewing? Email me if you like. Before it's too late (sorry, I'm selling...)


(Let's assume you've decided to do some advertising and you'll get some other people out of your networks)

  1. Who is going to handle applications and EXACTLY what will happen when one turns up? Will you acknowledge them or hang on to them and wait - CLUE: Don't just let them lay around. A simple and quick acknowledgement will impress most candidates. I'm afraid it doesn't happen too often,  so your effort will be noticed.
  2. How are you going to screen people? I assume you're not going to interview everybody? I also assume you'll not just invite the 10 best CV's to interview?...a) that's too many interviews and, b) many people have their CV's written by specialists. You need to find a way to get a feel for people early and make some swift decisions to do some early sorting. CLUE: a short phone call will soon expose the dozy applicants.
  3. Who is going to do this early screening? CLUE: Give it to somebody who understands the language the applicants speak and is capable of answering headline questions.
  4. Are you going to check out their social networking habits? I would. Actually, I do. Unashamedly. And I'd expect people to do the same to me if they were going to engage me as a headhunter. What you see is what you get.
  5. You'll need to give people some idea of the interview date early so they can plan their diaries. It's best to do all the interviews in one go so you stand a decent chance of making a comparison. CLUE: Don't invite applicants for an interview with 24 hours notice. You look like you're working in a panic - which you probably will be if you're doing this.
  6. If an applicant comes back with a question, how long will it take to respond? CLUE: Don't take longer than 24 hours. It makes you look as though you're slow off the mark.
  7. How will you record where you are with each candidate? I had 5 Simons on one search and was able to avoid mixing them up because I have a simple system. Inviting the wrong Simon to the client interview would have been dreadful - and it's very easy to make simple mistakes.
  8. Arrange the interview day. If you allow an hour per interview add an extra half an hour between interviews. Give yourself some time to collect your thoughts in between.


  1. Prepare some common questions so you can benchmark candidates, but don't interview in a straight-jacket. Allow time for the candidates to take you where they want - or don't want - let their mouths either give themselves away or convince you of their worth.
  2. If you need some decent interview questions, CLICK HERE
  3. Don't make your decision on the day. Sleep on it and tell the candidates that's what you're going to do. Try to make a cold and clinical judgement. You'll want to employ the person you like, which is natural, but try to make sure they're equipped to do what you want.
  4. TOP TIP: Try to imagine each candidate doing the next job up from the one they've applied. If you don't think they have the capacity or the potential, then they're probably not the right appointment. Always try to take on people who have some headroom, that way you build extra capacity for the future.
  5. If you didn't check out their social networking habits earlier, do so now. Don't discover something later you wish you'd discovered earlier. You, me, they, should be judged by what we put on our social networks. We enter stuff willingly. If we don't want it seen, we shouldn't put it there.
  6. Now make the offer, verbally first. Make sure you understand the details and can answer some detailed questions about the pension scheme (after recent years, people are more aware of the importance of their pension pot - and a good pension scheme can swing people round if the basic is mid-market)
  7. Now tell the people who didn't get the job, that they've not got the job. Explain why. You owe them that much.
  8. Now make the formal written offer you prepared earlier. Read it before you send it!
  9. Now take at least 2 references. My advice would not be to get one that simply confirms employment dates (although that can be useful!). Speak to people on the phone. Check their LinkedIn network with their LinkedIn network, you may have some common ground - it happens more often than people think.


Lot's more to do, but you've been very busy. Kick off your sling-backs and have a relaxing cuppa.

Look back over what you've been through and be realistic about how much time it's taken and if you'd want to do it again. You could use somebody like me to do this for you, or at least teach you how to do it. It's not rocket science, but there are lot's of steps that have to be coordinated.  A good recruitment campaign is a bit of a dance with an odd mix of process, skill and intuition. Done well you'll move like Fred Astaire - or you may stumble like Fred Flintstone...

But for now, you have a new and enthusiastic employee to help make your organisation better. Congratulations.


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