Recruiting? Eight great questions you should ask yourself

Posted 13 Feb 2014 by TeriSmith
Woman with sign saying hire me

Recruiting is a difficult job, and we think you deserve as much help as possible in selecting the right people. So here are eight great questions you should ask yourself – and some answers.

1. Why am I recruiting?

Okay, so there is an obvious answer here – there is a vacancy and you need someone to fill it! But take a moment to think about why the vacancy exists. If someone has left, make sure you know why this is. What’s your overall staff turnover, and how might this relate to your promotion, training, and reward policies, as well as your organisational culture? Your business should be attracting staff from other organisations, not losing them to other companies. Addressing these issues before you rush out and recruit could change the way you think about your vacancy – and your wider company culture.

2. Do I know what I’m looking for?

There is little point trying to recruit anybody unless you know what you are looking for – exactly what skills, attributes or behaviours someone will need to be successful in the role. Here’s a hint: the answer may not be “someone who is just like me”. The word “exactly” is also important here; vague phrases like “a good personality” aren’t particularly useful. Job analysis, a toolkit of techniques to find out more about the content of jobs and the attributes of those best suited for them, can help you define what competencies are needed for a role. Systems like Sirius can make this easier.

3. Am I attracting the right candidates?

If you don’t attract good applicants up front, there is no chance of you recruiting the right people in the end. Traditional methods such as press advertisements or recruitment agencies can still be very effective, though expensive, but there’s a whole raft of new channels you should consider that will help you attract the next generation of staff. For example, your online presence can be used not just to advertise posts, but attract a pool of potential candidates. Your positive company culture needs to shine through here, but also via your existing employees and the way they talk about you, as well as through the reputation you build with your customers – so shout about how great it is to work in your organisation, and be seen as an employer of choice. And don’t forget to consider internal candidates, who already know how great it is to work for you, right?!

4. Is my current selection process effective?

Don’t assume that the way you’ve always done things is the only way. Gather evidence on how well the current process works, and if you can, calculate the return on investment from your selection decisions. Using assessments that have been shown to be effective will be absolutely crucial in making sure your recruitment really does work, and isn’t just a token series of pointless tasks and questions (see point 5). With experts estimating that the cost of premature turnover can be as high as 150% of an employee’s salary, it really is worth your while investing in doing this analysis.

5. Am I using the right assessment methods?

Sometimes organisations choose their assessment tools in the way that people choose a meal in a restaurant; they choose the dish that they are comfortable with, or perhaps something new for novelty value, without thinking about what their body actually needs. For any vacancy, you should have thought through the attributes needed for the job (see point 2), and then choose assessments that have been proven to measure them. Choose methods that are technically sound, offer value for money, and that are fair and convenient (eg online and fast). Judged on these criteria, techniques such as psychometric tests, work sample tests, structured interviews and personality questionnaires usually stack up well. What’s more, it’s now possible to embed much of this expertise in computer-based systems to make the process more efficient; this was the inspiration for OPP’s development of Sirius.

6. Am I making ethical and effective use of social media?

Using social media in an overt way to attract candidates, for example when vacancies are advertised on an organisation’s Facebook page, or when speculative candidates contact an organisation via LinkedIn, has many advantages. However, many organisations are tempted to use social media in a more covert way, for example by looking at the Facebook page of a job applicant without their knowledge, in an attempt to find out what this person is ‘really like’. This is unethical, highly prone to discrimination, and may sometimes be illegal. Above all, there is little or no evidence that it works in selecting the right person. So we don’t think this is a good idea.

7. Is my selection process fair?

For ethical and legal reasons, it is important that any selection process is as fair as possible. Sometimes organisations choose to avoid thinking about this – but ignorance is no defence in law, so monitor your compliance by maintaining records of application and selection rates for relevant gender, racial and national groups, and for those with disabilities. Basing your selection decisions on a variety of selection methods and not just one is a great way to enhance fairness; the careful use of appropriate assessments can help to increase the actual and perceived fairness of selection.

8. Am I getting value for money?

A recent Labour Market Outlook suggests that only half of employers calculate the cost of recruitment. This is unfortunate, as when organisations do carry out these calculations, an effective selection programme almost always shows extremely good return on investment; try the analysis yourself and you might be agreeably surprised (or we at OPP can help you to work this out). More generally, it’s good advice to use less expensive tools first (and therefore with more people), and more expensive tools later (and therefore with fewer people). Last but not least, look out for any hidden costs, such as interviewer time or time spent reviewing CVs.

Overall, recruitment is all about getting the best people in, so that you can get the best results out. And it’s only by getting the process of recruitment right that you can make this happen. If you need more help, download our selection white paper, or view our webcast.

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