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How to run a successful recruitment process

“Leaders spend 5% of their time recruiting and 95% of their time making up for their recruitment mistakes” is a saying in recruitment.

Even though the real world is not exactly like this, there is no doubt that most recruitment processes and leaders’ ability to effectively recruit often leaves room for improvement.

I think that many recognise that recruitment processes in many companies are not professional enough. Too many have no clear process and the time from initiating a recruitment to the final hire is often too long. But why do I say that leaders’ skills within recruitment are not sufficient?

I do that because I have too often seen leaders that are unprepared for interviews, ask questions that are not investigating skillsets, not relevant for the position and confuse their personal preferences with competencies.

It is not because it is easy to be great at recruiting – it takes practice, but you can get a helping hand from training (or reading this article). Unfortunately, very few organisations offer recruitment training for their leaders, and most don’t get training in how to prepare for an interview, how to ask questions, how to identify the right competencies and how to determine if a candidate will fit in the team. Instead, they are left on their own to figure out how they best identify the right person for their team.

This is interesting as most organisations will say that their most important asset is their employees. However, they don’t invest as much in finding new employees as they often do in finding new IT systems, hardware etc. But the cost of not hiring the right person is very high – depending on the level in the organisation the cost is between 30 and 100% of the yearly salary if an employee leaves the organisation.

But don’t worry this article will help you get inspiration to improve both your recruitment process and your recruitment skills. Some of the advantages are that you will come across as highly professional, you minimize biases impact on who you offer the job, and you will be able to identify who is best suited for the job.

Let’s begin with defining what a successful outcome of a recruitment process is.

Obviously, it is finding the right candidate for the job – that is the reason for initiating the process. But often we are blinded by our own biases and hire what we already know and are familiar with meaning we hire people we have a personal preference for rather that who are best suited to do the job.

On top of that it is important to remember that this is an excellent Employer Branding opportunity. During a recruitment process you will be directly or indirectly in contact with a massive number of potential candidates – not only for this position but for other potential positions in your organisation. In a time like we are in now, where many organisations face challenges attracting the right candidates, any situation that can help employer branding needs to be utilised.

Therefore, in addition to finding the right candidate you need to think about how you make your company attractive to all candidates.

So, let’s look at how you can find the right candidate and improve your employer branding at the same time.

This article focuses on the process around job interviews. I will not touch upon what lies before, like defining the role, job briefs and writing job ads (Working to avoid biases in these parts of recruitment are very relevant as well but that must be for another article). Further, I have not included any recommendation or guidance on choosing whether or not to include a personality profile or a case in the recruitment process.

What is a great recruitment process?

Let’s start by defining what a good recruitment process is to ensure that everything is covered. For me a good process ensures the following:

• Agreement on role and responsibility internally (not covered in this article)

• Clarity for candidates and internally in your organisation on what happens when, and why

• Knowing who the candidate will meet and in which order

• Clarity on what the purpose is for each interview

• Knowing when the candidate will receive feedback

• Hiring manager provides feedback to candidates he or she has met

Therefore, you need to align on the above with HR, your own leader, and potential other stakeholders before you start the process.

The Process

I like to separate the recruitment process into 3 steps:



Evaluation and follow-up.

Let’s take it one step at a time.

Preparation for the interview

All great execution begins with preparation. And the same goes for interviews; If you prepare well for the process and the interview you increase the likelihood of finding the right candidate manyfold and doing a great job in employer branding because you know how to brand both company and position.

In the preparation process you have multiple areas you need to cover.

· Who will interview when and for which purpose – make sure to have your stakeholders on board

· Review the competencies needed to succeed in the role – prioritise them if you have not done that already

· Plan how to determine whether the candidate has the right competencies – case study? Questions? Test? Then you know how to structure your interview and what you need to prepare the candidates for.

· Read the resumes from the candidates that you will meet carefully. What are you excited about? And what worries you? Based on that you need to prepare relevant questions for each candidate.

· In addition, you need to prepare the questions that you will ask all candidates about. This is an efficient and neutral way of comparing candidates.

· Prepare how you want to present yourself and how you are as a leader, the company and importantly, the position. You need to consider what is relevant for the candidate to know. Here it is a balance of making the candidates interested in the position and your company but at the same time not overselling so you risk a disappointed candidate when reality does not live up to the candidate’s expectations.

You are now ready to interview relevant candidates.

The Interview

It is important to ensure to get as much relevant information as possible to determine a candidate’s suitability for the position as well as getting the candidate interested in both your company and the vacant position you have. I suggest to structure the interview where you use the beginning to set the scene and explain what the candidate can expect, then explain more about the job, yourself and the company. Be mindful of the time, you want the candidate to get as much talk-time as possible.

The structure of the interview could look like this:

· Setting the scene and explain what the candidate can expect in terms of this interview and follow up

· Presenting the company and yourself as a leader

· Presenting the role you are interviewing for, success criteria and the challenges

· Questions for the candidate for you to investigate how fit the candidate is for the role

· If you want to give a case or a test this is also the time for that.

· At the end you wrap up, explain the next steps and when the candidate can expect to hear back with feedback

· Questions from the candidate – make sure to have allocated time for the candidate to ask any questions they might have.

After each interview it is important to keep your notes to remember each candidate. After interviewing several candidates, it becomes difficult to remember who said what – that is when your notes come in handy.

Evaluation and follow-up

When you have interviewed all candidates, it is time to evaluate who you think is the best suited for the position. Depending on who is involved in the process and who has a say in the final decision you need to gather input and a go/no go decision for each candidate. Having internal backup for a certain candidate will help the candidate in becoming successful when joining as they have the support of your stakeholders.

It is in the process of evaluating that many leaders find it difficult to separate between who they like on a personal level and who has the best competences to do the job and fit in the team both professionally and on a personal level.

Comparing interview notes on the specific questions you prepared to ask for all candidates with the criteria you set in the beginning of the process will guide you to who the best suited candidate is based on objectives criteria and not the candidate you like best on a personal level, hence you can make your decision on who to offer the job.

For many leaders the job offer is the last step of the recruitment process, but let’s not forget the other purpose of the recruitment process: Employer Branding. All candidates that have been invited for interview deserve to get feedback on what they did well, why they did not get the job and what they could do better in case they go for interview for another job. Taking the time to thank all candidates and to give them personal feedback does not take long and it leaves a very positive impression, significantly increasing the likelihood of them speaking positively about you and your company. And that is what employer branding is all about – getting positive conversations started about your company.

When the recruitment process is finalised, keep your notes and then revisit them 3-6 months down the line to see how accurate your impressions and hypotheses about your new employee was. This is the best feedback on how well the recruitment process worked out and will give you great insight.

Recruiting is not easy. But if you follow the process described in this article and take the time to prepare and follow up you are on the right path. Good luck and enjoy your next recruitment process.

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