Wednesday 18 March 2009

Enjoying recruitment

Some managers don't like recruitment. I find that amazing. I think a manager needs to enjoy recruitment to do it well, and good recruitment is essential for a happy team. To help managers to enjoy recruitment they might need to change the way they view it, and definitely need to have created enough time to manage it properly. If managers don't have enough time to recruit, then I would ask whether they have enough time to manage generally etc etc. Personally, I get excited about recruitment. I wonder what skills they will bring to the team? Will they boost existing members of the team? How much more will my team be able to achieve?

I guess there are a lot of different ways to recruit. I don't know the best way and I would imagine it depends on the role you're recruiting for. I see four main parts to recruitment; planning, reviewing, choosing, and training. The first part is planning. We've really fallen down in this area in the past, and I recently had to withdraw a role because I hadn't done enough planning and felt uneasy when the CVs started coming through. I should have known exactly what their role would be, what projects they'd work on, what the market value was, and how their role would grow. I didn't and it cost me time and money.

The next step is reviewing. We try to look through each CV in detail and select the dozen best ones for telephone interview. However if we're so inundated by CVs that we simply cannot work through them all in any reasonable fashion then we use objective measures, such as arbitrary educational requirements. We don't like using this type of criteria though and don't put these requirements onto the advert itself. We use the telephone interview to see how enthusiastic and communicative the candidates are, and pick six or so from this process. We then set them a task to complete such as some research or an online apptitude test. We don't expect more than an hour of work, but it really weeds out the time wasters. I mean, if they can't be bothered to spend an hour applying, then they probably aren't that committed. Finally, we invite the best from these for a face to face interview. This part of the process is only really used to check whether the candidate's personality is a good fit with the company. We're not looking for demographics, it's about enthusiasm, communication, and energy. This means that the face to face interviews need to have a very senior member of staff who truly understands the company culture.

When it comes to choosing one candidate, we're normally pretty clear on who is the most suitable before the face to face interview. If this is the case, then the interview just confirms that we think they'll be a good fit and we pick them. If there is more than one strong candidate, then we compare each candidate subjectively, and pick the one that offers the most to the company as a whole. This means that we may pick someone who's over qualified for the role, because we want them in the company, and we'll make it our job to find them the best role to be in. This is a really important point. I just want to be surrounded by the best possible people. Job roles can be discussed and changed if they need to be.

All of this is pretty straight forward, but the next step is something we've also done really badly in the past. When you've put so much time and energy into recruiting, it's crazy not to spend an equal amount of time preparing for their training. We used to just kind of sling the new starters into their chair and get them to shadow colleagues. These days we know the value of a training timetable and structured time over the first few weeks. It's also important to spend time getting the new person socialising with their team so that they can begin to know them as a person, and start building those all important relationships. A new starter is the most important person in our teams, if we don't acknowledge that then we'll pay the consequences later.

Where we've recruited well, we've created teams with a strong bond and are able to create a happy environment. Where we've recruited badly, we've had to spend time fixing teams and repairing relationships. I don't think it's much of a revelation to suggest that good recruitment makes the manifesto very easy to implement, and bad recruitment consumes time and can leave us with problems that need to be fixed (see my previous post). It's for this reason that I think that recruitment is the most important part of the manifesto: We only employ people who have the ability to do their job and ask for help if they need it.


  1. This is quite an interesting point.
    The employment process is the building blocks of any organisation and needs to be approached correctly.

    In the past I have purposefully applied for positions which I have no interest in or even skills in, with the knowledge that there is a skill that I have which can be utilised whilst growing into the desired role.

    But how do you employ the right person if you fray from your initial job outline?

    Willingly employing somebody who is more suited to a role that either does not currently exist or because you see the potential for increasing the overall skill set within a department / improving company assets, seems counter productive.

    Trying to fix a leak that doesn't yet exist if you will.

    His this ever been done and proven to have been a mistake? Have you ever employed somebody where you could see a benefit for them filling a void outside of the original job requirement, only to find when you attempted to populate that void it became bigger?

    Finally, if you allow for the growth of new recruits, into other areas and positions, how do you provide the correct training schemes, assignments and other business drivers?

    You don't want to waste resources and finances on training a member to become certified for example in one field, only for them to never work within that field.

  2. Oops, I missed this comment - poor show. You're right to point out that this won't work everywere, the idea of recruiting above the position. I should have put a caveat that this only applies in a company that's growing. I've only recruited in companies that are growing, and as a result know that there is always going to be a need for skilled and talented people in as yet, undefined roles.

    Thanks for your comment.