Tips for successful recruiting

Tips for successful recruiting

The following tips from our recruitment experts should help you with each step of the recruitment process.  If in doubt contact HR.

Tips for writing great ads
Your advertisement should:

  • Follow the standard formats we have developed.
  • Be short, simple and informal. No more than 200 words. Short paragraphs and short sentences catch the eye.
  • Be personal – use “you” rather than “candidate”.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be clear how people should apply and specify the closing date for applications.
  • Provide a contact name and phone number details in case applicants want more information AND direct applicants to our website to learn about our business.
  • Capture the attention of your target audience and reflect the appropriate image for our organisation.
  • Describe the job; its main accountabilities, qualifications, experience required, any special aspects (e.g. whether frequent travel is involved), and the work location.
  • Generally do not indicate the pay range. Our practice is not to publish this information.
  • Meet the Human Rights Act requirements in terms of avoiding discrimination.
  • Never forget to explain – “what is in it for the candidate?”
  • Try to be a little original.
  • Avoid generic or overused words like “excellent communication skills” or “motivated”. They do not make our ad stand out!
  • It does not have to be clever – it has to make sense to the target audience.
  • Get someone else to read your ad to ensure you are getting your desired message across.
Tips for getting the best out of agencies

We sometimes use agencies for difficult to fill jobs, or where they are likely to have candidates on their books. We might use an agency only, or advertise ourselves and invite one or more agencies to offer us any candidates they find. If you find yourself working with an agency, the following tips may be helpful.

  • Brief them fully about us so they can sell us to candidates i.e. size, history, key activities and business objectives etc
  • Describe the team:  How many people are in the team and how is it structured? How does the job fit into the organisation as a whole? Describe the culture of the team. Candidates will want to know if they will fit in.
  • Describe the job:  What is the reason for the vacancy? What are the main tasks and responsibilities? What is the purpose of the role? What skills will be needed to do it? What training could be provided to help do it? What background would help? What previous achievements would be considered vital and which useful?
  • Talk about development within the role:  How will the role look in the future? Where might it lead? What opportunities are there to progress? Strong candidates will be looking for a job which offers a future.
  • Talk personal qualities:  What kind of person does the role require? Both the essential and the desirable qualities?
  • Remuneration:  The complete package should be detailed. Give a range for remuneration depending on the quality of the candidate.
  • Process and timescales:  When will the interviews take place? Who will be involved? How many stages are there? How will the candidate be informed? Will feedback be provided?
  • Think relationship not transaction:  Develop a successful relationship by establishing clear lines of communication and managing expectation.
  • Keep in touch:  Your consultant needs to keep candidates interested, particularly the good ones who may have several opportunities to choose from.
  • Make sure you have a sign-off process and budget approved:  These can often be sticking points that hold up the recruitment process.
  • Set realistic timescales:  To review CVs and conduct interviews – it can be longer than you might think.
  • Listen to your consultant:  They can advise how they think the candidates stack up against each other, how likely you are to find what you’re looking for and whether you are in any danger of losing a preferred candidate.
Tips for organising and conducting the interview

Ideally, you should not be interviewing more than 3-4 candidates. Two or three people, including the hiring manager and one other with recruiting experience should be involved in the interview. Any more and it begins to feel like an interrogation for the candidate.

  • Make sure you have a completed online application form – if not ask for one.
  • Read the application form, cover letter and CV of all applicants thoroughly and compare against the required elements of the person specification – what areas do you need to probe?
  • Prepare interview questions using the templates provided.
  • Schedule at least 15-minute gaps between interviews so interviewers can sum up the candidate who has just left before the next interview.
  • Organise a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Have the job description handy so you can cover the requirements of the role.
  • Have a copy of the current conditions handy so you can answer any questions regarding salary, hours, leave entitlements etc.

The primary purpose of an interview is to allow you to gather as much information about the applicant as possible through interview questions. Your interview questions must be tailored to test the applicant’s suitability to the requirements of the position and may explore issues identified through studying their CV or application.

Format each question to encourage the applicant to use examples of past experience or accomplishments. Open-ended questions such as “Tell me about a time…” or “please give me an example of…” lead applicants to open-up and give detailed answers.

Ask all candidates the same or similar questions to effectively compare responses and ensure fairness. Failure to do this can be seen as evidence that not all applicants were given equal treatment. Use the interview template to record the responses during the interview, not afterwards.

Use the short-listing form again to compare candidates eliminating all but the strongest one or two candidates for pre-employment checking or second interview. If no candidates meet, your standards discuss with People and Performance reopening the sourcing process.

Tips for second interview

We strongly suggest you hold a second interview with the top one or two candidates who meet your criteria. The second interview provides you with a chance to again, satisfy yourself that you have the best candidate for the job and gives the candidate a chance to ask questions and confirm that we are the place for them!

  • Prepare by developing a list of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses against your requirements for the role to check off and discuss in the interview.
  • Involve another member of the team whose judgment you trust – two heads are better than one and they may see something you have missed. Alternately, you may wish to use a staff member from another part of the business who can give you another perspective on the candidate.
  • Confirm the candidate’s level of interest.
  • Check again that they meet your “must have” selection criteria.
  • Answer any questions they have.
Tips for reference checking

Good hiring decisions are now more critical than ever. Since past performance is the best guide to future performance, you should complete these checks personally and given the time and effort required. You need to:

  • Check with the candidate to ensure the referees they have supplied are expecting a call from you.
  • Wherever possible have the person’s most recent manager on the list.
  • If the person nominates a referee at a particular employer, who was not their manager, check why they didn’t give their manager as the reference.
  • Let the referee know this reference check will take 10-15 minutes and ask if now is a suitable time (reschedule if necessary)
  • When contacting the referee have a list of specific areas you want to dig and probe (sample reference check questionnaire)
  • Ask open-ended questions (requiring more than a yes or no answer) and allow plenty of time for the referee to talk
  • Do not fill the silences up – often silences tell their own story.
  • Dig and probe if you sense they are hesitant or uncomfortable talking about a particular area of questioning or where their responses are at odds with what you heard from the candidate. You are entitled to quote what the candidate said and ask for their comment on that. (E.g., they said they lead the XYZ project is that correct?)
  • Except in unique circumstances always speak to present or past employers. Talking with friends or family is referees will not provide you with the information you need.
  • You are quite entitled to ask the candidate for an additional referee if you believe there is a gap in the referees provided (e.g. a recent employer where they spent a considerable period of time or where they remained only a very short period).
Tips for making selections

Hold your post interview review of candidates as soon as possible after the last interview so the impression candidates made is fresh in your minds. Use the scoring system built into the interview templates to score and then compare the candidates. Key questions are;

  • Do they have the ‘must have’ requirements?
  • How did they score overall?
  • What are their strengths / weaknesses for the job?
  • Do they have the right mindset for the role?
  • How do they compare with the others?
  • Would they be a good team fit?
  • Are the candidate’s values in line with our values?
  • Are they hireable for this job?
  • If two candidates are close generally look to the one with the best work attitude.
  • Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.
  • Better an empty ‘chair’ than a bad hire.
  • Don’t be afraid to thoroughly check references and then call them back for another interview to make sure!
  • Can we live with any weaknesses we see – how will we mitigate these?

Select your preferred candidate

Tips for pre employment checks
Standard pre-employment checks

Having identified your preferred candidate there are a number of standard pre-employment checks to complete before a second interview (if required) or a formal offer is made. People and Performance will typically run these checks and inform you of the results. Checks required depend on the type of work the team member is going to undertake and how senior the job.

Tips for negotiation
  • Be fully informed before you start: People and Performance can advise you of the salary range for this particular role depending on whether the person is experienced, fully competent or an exceptional candidate who will add value in the role. Typically they will begin somewhere between 85% and 100% of salary range for the appropriate grade.
  • Be clear what they are looking for in the job: What motivates them to consider this opportunity? In some cases people will accept a more modest salary package if the job represents a unique career opportunity or opportunity for a better lifestyle for themselves or their family. In such circumstances, they may not necessarily be looking to match or better their current salary. Ask them at interview what would motivate them to take the job you are discussing.
  • Know what the range is for this particular role: People and Performance can advise you of the salary / wage range for this particular role depending on whether the person is an experienced, fully competent or an exceptional candidate who will add exceptional value in the role.
  • Decide where in this range you think this person would fall based on what you have learned about their experience, capability and achievements: Typically, we would expect that new people who are unproven in our environment would start somewhere between 85% and 90% of the salary range (or lower end of the wage grade). However, in some cases you may have to meet the market where they are currently paid higher than this or if the candidate is exceptional and will be fully functional in the role from day one. Another factor will be whether this candidate is actively being courted by other prospective employers. In such circumstances, you may be competing with other employers and you will need to factor this into your choice of offer. Remember, we have a great location, flexible work our opportunities, generous annual, sick and long service leave provisions and a broad range of other benefits. Make sure you sell these as valuable in the context of their decision. In other words don’t let them just compare salary/wage.
  • Sell the job: Clearly money is important but don’t underestimate the influence of other factors such as; the type of work, projects etc., people will have the opportunity be involved with, their enthusiasm for joining your kind of business with its culture, stability and reputation, the work environment you have to offer, opportunities for capability development, for promotion, opportunities to learn from ‘experts’ in the wider team. Don’t miss the opportunity to put these other advantages on the scales when people are weighing up this opportunity against others.
  • If they reject the offer: Do not react hastily. Explore their reasons for rejection including whether they fully understand the value of the package you have put to them. Ask specifically what is the package that will be acceptable. Buy yourself time by saying you will need to discuss and get approval for any change to your offer within the organisation so you will need a short time to consider their request and come back to them. Responses to consider include;
    • Increase the offer.
    • Increase the offer but indicate there will be no salary review for 12 months.
    • Decline to increase the offer.
    • Decline to increase the offer but indicate your willingness to review their salary within a given period, subject to performance.
Tips for talking to unsuccessful candidates

We need to treat unsuccessful short listed candidates with respect and remember that they may be suitable for future opportunities.

  • Thank them for their interest and time. If asked for feedback focus on describing how the successful candidate was stronger on one or more of the ‘must have’ requirements or was the closest match with the position/person specifications.
  • Where appropriate encourage them to keep an eye on our careers page for future opportunities with us.