3 The recruitment process


3 The recruitment process

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3 The recruitment process

Recruitment is not a transaction.  It’s a business development opportunity.

This is generally a $100,000 investment in your team. You wouldn’t rush into buying a new house but most managers I know are so busy getting stuff done that recruitment is treated more like an interruption to the day and another thing to tick off the ‘To Do list’.  Make time to think properly about this and don’t rush it.  Do be efficient and get the process started quickly but don’t take short cuts.  You will pay for it later if you do!

The five key steps in this process that you need to be across are:

1. Your recruitment process 

  • Do you know it?
  • What forms do you need to get approval to appoint, advertise and sign off recruitment.

Have a pack ready to go so the minute you get a resignation you can start the process.  Get HR support if you have it.

  • What is their responsibility and what is yours?
  • Are you both clear on this?

Often managers assume that HR will take care of it from beginning to end but this is not usually the case.  You need to be fully engaged in this process.  It’s too important to leave to someone else.

2. Developing position descriptions (PD) or review existing PDs to suit the new job

Don’t just use old ones.  Ask yourself” “When I need to manage their performance, will this help me?”

  • Does it clearly articulate your expectations or at the very least cover these off at a high level?  Or is it so detailed that it leaves no room for flexibility or evolving the role?
  • What are the key selection criteria? Do they really match the job?  What do they need to bring and what can you develop?


Print out the PDs in your team. Cut the name of the job off.  Mix them up. Is it clear from the expectations what the job is?  Does it make sense without the title information?  If not it needs clarity.

Alternatively write your own responses to the selection criteria for one or two.  Do do they make sense or are they wording and the objectives unclear?

3. Advertising or promoting

You don’t need a marketing degree to understand your market.  But you do need to understand your market to attract the right person to the vacancy you want to fill.  This is the number one area I see managers and HR departments getting wrong.  The adverts are so boring and non specific that they are unlikely to catch a prospect’s eye unless they were really looking.  This narrows our field considerably because we then are only reaching the people who are looking.  We want to also reach the people who are already in a job with a thought of leaving at the back of their mind.  Our advert needs to be attractive to do that.

Create an ‘avatar’ (image or icon representing a person) – think about the ideal person for this role and not just in broad terms – get really specific.


  • Write down or brainstorm with other members of your team.  (This will build on work done in your workforce planning exercise in the previous section.  Having mapped the skills of your team you should now know who and what you need.)
    • Think about the best person you had in this role.
    • Why did you value them so highly?
    • What made them great?
    • What’s the age, gender, cultural demographic?
    • Where does this person live and play?
    • What do they do in their spare time?
    • What magazines do they read?
    • Do they have school age kids?
    • What social media channels are they likely to use?  Are they on Linked In or facebook?  You get the idea.

What’s the point of this?  It makes it very clear who you are looking for.  You know where they hang out so it helps you target where you should advertise.  You know who you want so it makes the selection process quicker and easier.  You know who you want so you don’t hire someone who is not that person.

When you write your advert now you write to attract that person.  So that means you don’t talk about what you want.  Instead, you structure your advertisement about what they want.

What does your ideal person want in a workplace?  Write the ad to meet those needs.  Put your company information at the bottom, not the top!  Put the things that your candidate wants front and centre.  Don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver.

4. Selection panel and purposeful interview questions

What is the best way of finding out about people?

Consider phone or video pre-interviews to pre-select candidates.  It gives you a good idea of whether they actually are what they look like on paper.

At the actual interview make sure you have good interview questions.  These should be based on the key selection criteria (see why these should make sense now?). Think about what you want to know about your applicant and then think about how you might find that out.   Design your questions so they get the candidate to talk about what they have done (rather than the theory or their belief system) and the result of their actions.   How many times have you been asked a question about how you would manage conflict?  99% of the time people tell you what they should or would do rather than what they DID do!

I like to put scenarios in the interview as well as more direct questions.  It’s harder for people to have a ‘prepared’ answer to and generally demonstrates their problem solving skills.

Interviewing is a skill and the aim should always be to really understand if this person in front of you is your ‘avatar’ or close to it.

Interviews should be designed to relax and get the best out of a person.  It’s not about you either so have both your ears open and you mouth on minimum output!

Involve your panel members in the process if you can.  Get them to help you build your ‘avatar’.  Brainstorm the questions.  Make sure they know what you are looking for.

5. Selection process

On what basis should people be hired?  Seniority; experience; expectations?

Often people think that the most senior people should be promoted into a role vacated.  However, that might not be the best fit for the role.  Don’t appoint on years alone.

The decision to appoint can be difficult if 2 or more candidates perform well.  Remember though, the interview is not everything.  Internal applicants will often interview poorly because they assume that you know them so you know their strengths.  They also know that you know their weaknesses and they are not really sure what you think they are!  This often makes them undersell themselves.  They don’t want to appear to be showing off.

Interview should not be the only deciding factor.  In terms of internal applicants it can be their performance, attitude and value within the organization.  If the decision is close you might want to undertake a second round interview.  Perhaps get the candidate to give a presentation or undertake some other element of the role they have applied for.

Profiling or psychometric testing might be something to consider.  A cautionary note though.  Unless you have profiled your team in full and understand the rationale of these tests it could be easy to make wrong assumptions about what the results mean for you.

Psychometric testing does not replace or override you taking responsibility for your decisions or doing proper due diligence.

Referee checks is another important element to assist in decision making.   Most organisations will have a set proforma but don’t be afraid to dig deeper.  You will get a feel from the other person what they really think about the candidate through their tone and their language.  The last question is usually ‘would you reemploy this person?’ If there is a hesitation around this ask about it:  “I noticed you hesitated…is there something I should know about?”

The other thing I would say about reference checks is that you should always have a recent line manager referee rather than other senior staff.  Colleagues actually don’t know much about each other in the workplace because they are busy getting the work done.  All they will be able to say is that the candidate is effective clinically or not and how they behave with other team members.  The line manager sees much more; the behaviours and attitudes that they display both publicly and behind closed doors.  This is important.

Occasionally a candidate will tell you up front that they did not get along with their manager.  Ask for a previous manager in a similar role or someone further up the line.  This can be a red flag or it might just be a wrong fit.  Even if it hasn’t been a good fit it is good to know how the candidate managed themselves in that space.  Look for patterns.  Did this happen at their last few places?

Then there are the checks that you can do yourself.  If you know someone in common you could ask the candidate if it is ok to check with them.  (don’t just do it – that is a breach of privacy and fairness)

Check google and facebook.  If something comes up ask them about it.

Taking all of this into account make your selection.  Write a briefing note to your manager or into HR about the rationale for your selection.  This, as well as your interview notes, serve as a record of transparent decision making should anyone question the process.

6. Advise, Negotiate and feedback.

Speak with the selected candidate.  What can you offer?  What are your parameters?

Advise unsuccessful candidates and give them helpful feedback. Remember you are dealing with someone’s son or daughter, mother or father!! Give them every opportunity to succeed.  Even though they were not successful, how you deal with them will be the impression of your organization they take away with them.  You may need them in the future or someone that they know.  It’s a PR exercise.


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