It’s highly likely that at some point in your managerial career, you’re going to need to advertise for a new member of staff to fill one of your office chairs. This might be to backfill a position that someone has left, or it might be that you’ve decided to create an entirely new position, which is going to add to the overall productivity of your existing office.
Whatever the situation, it’s important to get it right. Recruitment isn’t a simple process, and it is one which is packed with potential pitfalls, if you don’t have the right information to hand. Do your homework, think things through very carefully indeed, and always check that you are working firmly within UK employment law. If you can do that, you’ll ensure that you sidestep any problem areas, and you’ll find the ideal person for the job.
To help you cover all corners of the recruitment process, not only adequately but to the best standard, we’re going to guide you through the entire deal. No worries, no stress!
A Quick Overview of The Recruitment Process
The recruitment process can be quite long, and in most cases it can take three months or more. It can occasionally take less time, if the person you choose doesn’t need to give a month or more’s notice at their current employment. The basic process goes a little like this:
- Identifying the need for a new member of staff
- Deciding upon the hours and method of working, e.g. flexible or standard
- Drawing up or updating a current job description and person specification
- Advertising the position
- Fielding questions regarding the advertisement
- Shortlisting candidates for interview and informing those shortlisted
- Conducting interviews
- Deciding on the right person for the job and informing him or her
- Completing formal recruitment paperwork and deciding upon a start date
- Drawing up an induction programme
There are many smaller subjects within each of these points, but the general process can be quite long. For that reason, by ensuring that you know everything which needs to be done and you plan accordingly, you can avoid any extra delays or problems along the way.
How to Effective Plan Your Staffing Needs
Part and parcel of business is planning effectively. You need to know where you are now, where you have been, and you need to use that information to plan where you want to go in the future. This planning can’t be done with hopes in mind, it needs to be done with solid data and trend information to hand, in order to be realistic about your cost planning too.
For instance, if you overstaff your office, you’re going to end up paying well over budget on your salary pot, and you’re going to have less cash spare for business growth and marketing. It’s important to ensure that you have the right number of staff to do the jobs you need to be done, that you have the right amount of elegant office furniture for each of them, and that you’re not trying to get too much out of the staff you have, e.g. you’re not attempting to cut staff with more work to be done. By having the right amount of staff at your office desks, you’ll ensure that your employees perform to the best of their ability, because they’re not stressed and overstretched, and that means productivity will be on the rise. In addition, your employees will develop a sense of belonging to the office environment.
It’s also important to think about the hours you need your staff to work too. You can’t do anything about the hours that your current staff work without consultation with them and a new employment contract drawn up, but before a new member of staff starts, you can make adjustments to the working pattern. For instance, maybe you want this member of staff to use flexible working, or perhaps you want them to work less hours than the person who originally left the job. Making those decisions before you advertise means that you can proceed knowing you have everything in place, with less confusion throughout the lengthy advertising process.
This also means that you will find the person you’re looking for much faster.
Drawing up a Job Description And Person Specification
The next step is to either edit a current job description and person specification, or draw up a completely new one. Let’s outline what each of these documents are before we move on.
- Job description – Outlines the duties and responsibilities of the role and who they report to
- Person specification – Outlines the qualifications and qualities you want the candidate to have
It’s important to have both of these documents finalised before you move onto the next stage of the recruitment process.
The information contained in these documents helps potential employees know what they are getting into if they apply for this role, e.g. the types of tasks they will be expected to do at their office bench desks, and the responsibilities they will have. It also helps in the shortlisting and interviewing process, because it tells you what to look for.
If you are advertising to backfill a position that someone has left, it’s a good idea to sit down and brainstorm on that document and see where changes can be made. Nobody’s job remains the same over the years, and it’s likely that since the last person left, new tasks have been added. This is also the opportunity to add other tasks to that person’s responsibility list and perhaps take a little extra work off the plate of another employee who may be struggling.
If you are attempting to draw up documents for a completely new position, this is going to take a little more work. In this case you need to think carefully about the role and what it entails. What duties are they going to do? How much responsibility are they going to have? Who will they answer to? What are the limitations of the role, in terms of their salary? Look at sample job descriptions online and also do research into the types of duties and responsibilities of other employees in similar roles. At this point you can also loosely start to think about the ideal office layout to accommodate this new member of staff – perhaps this is a great opportunity for a change around?
Once the job description and person specification are finalised by management you’re ready to move onto the next step – advertising.
Advertising And Shortlisting For Your Position
At this point you need to write your advertisement for the job. You can easily find sample adverts online, and you can head onto job sites and look for inspiration – this is probably the easiest part of the entire process! Deciding where to advertise however is something you need to think about carefully. For the most part, advertising on more than one platform is a good idea, and more and more businesses are also using social media as an advertising tool.
You can place adverts in:
- The Job Centre
- Local newspapers
- Trade newspapers and magazines, if applicable
- Online job sites
- Social media
Most people look online when searching for a new job these days, so sites like Indeed and Monster are ideal for finding a wide range of candidates. You also need to include details on how you want them to apply. If you’re choosing to use job sites then you will receive the person’s CV and supporting evidence via the site, and you need to be clear about what other information you want them to include, e.g past experience in the same type of role. This avoids the need for extra questions being asked before the shortlisting process, and basically makes shortlisting in general far easier. The job description and person specification in this case will be downloaded via the site.
If you’re going to advertise in the Job Centre or via newspapers, you need to either give a link to downloading the job description or you will need to send them out manually. Most job applications are now done via the Internet however.
It’s a good idea to add some background information about your business and your office environment too, as there are many elements which attract high quality new employees towards a business. For instance, did you know that office design is linked with recruitment of top talent? Perhaps add some images of your office!
Set a closing date for the advertisement, usually two weeks after you have placed the advert, and then collate all applications together. The shortlisting process can be lengthy, and it is at this point we need to mention something very important – discrimination.
It is against the law to discriminate when shortlisting or interviewing a candidate based on anything other than their actual ability to do the job. For instance, you cannot discriminate against them because of their gender, their race, any disability they may have, their sexuality, religion, or any other part of who they are. When you are sat around that meeting room table deciding which applications to take to the interview stage and which to pass over, the decision needs to be based completely on their ability, their qualifications, and the experience they have. Similarly, the questions you ask during interviews cannot be in any way discriminatory.
Remember, poor management will help you lose current employees, and discriminatory behaviour is part and parcel of that.
Shortlist a moderate number of candidates, depending on how many applications you received and how many you would like to take further and then pick an interview date.
How to Arrange Your Interview Day
Once you have shortlisted, you need to inform those lucky people of when they are going to be interviewed. It’s a good idea to block out the entire day in your diary, so you’re not rushing anyone and you’re not clock watching whilst you’re sat around the meeting room seating, trying to ask questions.
Preparation on the day is also key. You should approach the interview day the same as you would a big meeting that you need to present at. You should think of interview questions prior to the day, and double check that these are suitable and comprehensive enough for the job you want to recruit to. For a few ideas on the types of questions you should ask at an interview, check out this infographic.
It’s also worth pointing out that you should ask all candidates the same questions, to ensure fairness across the board.
With the questions organised, it’s time to think about the layout of meeting room. Make sure you have enough boardroom chairs for the candidate and everyone on the interviewing panel, and ensure that you have informed the reception area about the interviews going on. The receptionist will be greeting the candidates and pointing them in the right direction, or asking them to take a seat on the reception sofas, until they are called.
In many ways, you are being interviewed too. First impressions count for a lot, and if you have a fantastic candidate coming into your office space and they don’t like what they see, they may not take the job if you offer it to them. In that case, you may have to offer the job to your second choice.
It’s a good idea to have spare copies of the job description and personal specification to hand, so you can ask the candidate to refer to specific points as you ask the questions. In terms of how many people should be on the interviewing panel, that is something which really depends upon the type of job being interviewed for. For managerial positions there is more likely to be a panel of people, e.g. four or even five interviewers. For a standard office job, there could be two or three.
Ensure you have water on hand, bearing in mind that candidates might be nervous and need a drink of water to calm themselves down. You should also ensure that temperature in the room is adequate, as you’re going to be in there for a good few hours, interviewing several candidates, and you want to be comfortable! With that in mind, choose the most adequate form of office seating for a long day ahead.
Choosing modular office furniture for interview scenarios is a good idea in general, because this can be moved around with ease from place to place. If your office has this already then consider moving it into the interviewing room for extra comfort.
You will have asked each candidate to arrive at a specific time, and you should make sure you have given enough space between slots. This means you’re not rushing through each person and not allowing them the time to shine, and also gives you time to discuss between yourselves about any points the candidate made, and note down any comments you don’t want to forget when making your final decision a little later on.
How to Interview Candidates
With the scene set, it’s time to get down to business and actually interview your eagerly awaited candidates. If you’ve never conducted an interview before, you might be as nervous as the candidates themselves, but remember that you’re not the one under the spotlight like them, and provided you have prepared adequately and you have all your information in front of you, there is nothing to be nervous about.
For a visual take on how to interview not only adequately, but well, check out this useful video.
There are some useful points in that video, and perhaps if it is your first time, you could run through a practice interview with a colleague, just to calm your nerves and set the scene for finding the best new talent.
A few points to bear in mind when interviewing are:
- Remember that your candidates are going to be nervous, so if they stutter a little or appear flushed at first, bear that in mind
- Ensure that you place a sign outside the room informing people that interview are going on and you should not be disturbed
- Inform those in the offices around the interview room, so if they see anyone looking lost, they can help guide them in the right direction
- Do not have your telephone with you during interview, as this could distract you away from the candidate, and basically looks very unprofessional
- Have an office desking arrangement which is less super-formal and more casual, e.g. perhaps a comfortable booth, or a nice coffee table with tub chairs, rather than a long conference table and four people staring at a terrified interview candidate!
- Do not allow your questions to become closed, e.g. avoid questions which can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Instead, you need to ensure that your questions always encourage discussion
- Smile and make eye contact to help the candidate calm down and open up a little more, especially if they continue to appear nervous. Sometimes nerves can really dull a person’s shine, and you don’t get to see the real potential underneath
- Use scenarios to understand more about how a person would actually react to a situation within a job, rather than questions based on theory
- Give the candidate a chance to ask any questions they might have at the end of the interview, and inform them of what will happen next, e.g. how long it might take to hear the outcome, whether those who aren’t successful will get a letter or a phone call, etc.
- Take notes throughout the interview, but don’t spend your entire time writing. Encourage the candidate to talk by nodding, making agreeing noises, and ensuring that they know you’re listening to them.
Interviewing isn’t a difficult process once you have practiced once or twice, but it is a skill to be able to get the best out of someone who may be struggling with nerves. Using encouraging words and body language will help them to relax, but it’s also important to realise that if someone simply cannot handle their nerves in an interview situation, this could be a pointer towards them not being able to handle pressure in a job situation also.
Once the interviews have finished, you can either sit down and discuss who to choose then and there, or you can sleep on it. It depends on how many people you interviewed and how tired you are at the end of the day. If you and your panel colleagues have spent the entire day interviewing one candidate after the other, it might be that you are a little overwhelmed and tired, and this isn’t the best foundation on which to make a big decision like someone to employ to sit at your funky office furniture! In that case, it’s entirely acceptable to start the shortlisting process the next day, and you may also have had time to think about things and have come up with a few other points and ideas that you might forget or overlook if you rush through the process.
Choosing Your Ideal Candidate
So, how do you pick one candidate from the several you interviewed? It might be an easy process, there might have been a hands-down winner which stood out like a sore thumb and in that case your decision is easy. The more likely scenario however is that you need to agonise over two or three high quality candidates, and the decision is likely to be one made via a tiny difference.
For instance, it could be that one candidate simply has six months more experience than another.
When trying to make your decision, ask yourself these questions:
- What extra dimension would this person bring to the business?
- Would this person fit in easily with the other employees within the office space?
- How much training would this person need, e.g. if they don’t have as much prior experience?
- Would this person be comfortable sitting at a glass conference table and collaborating with others?
- Is this person willing and eager to learn and grow?
- Does this person really have the necessarily qualifications, skills, and experience for this role?
- Can you see this person helping the business to move to the next level?
- What sort of personality are they? What type of management style would suit them and does it fit in with what you already have in place?
- Do they seem easily motivated?
- What challenges can you foresee if you employ this person?
By asking these questions you will be able to separate those candidates which ran a close race, and whilst it might come down to something small to separate them, you should be able to pick your winner from the bunch.
From there, it’s time to tell them the good news! The most common situation here is to telephone the person who is to be offered the job first, just in case they decide to refuse. In that case, it would go to the second person on your shortlist. This is unlikely to be the case however, but it is something to bear in mind. Once you have a verbal acceptance of the job from your selected candidate, you can either telephone the other candidates and let them know the outcome, or you can write to them with a letter which basically states “unfortunately on this occasion you were unsuccessful”, and offering them feedback if they would like it. Not all businesses do this, and some simply say that if you do not hear from us within two days, you’ve been unsuccessful. It depends how you want to go about it, but it’s always courteous to let someone know, especially when they’re probably sat on tenterhooks waiting for the phone to ring.
You have a verbal acceptance of the job, but nothing is set in stone until your candidate has received an offer letter and they have accepted the same in writing. Always advise your candidate not to hand in their notice at their current job until this offer letter has been received; this is standard advice, just in case something occurs in the meantime which causes the offer to fall through.
Prior to sending an offer letter you will need to source out references for your preferred candidate. These will either be shown on the application the candidate submitted prior to their interview, or you will need to ask for them at this stage. A letter will then be sent to the referee asking them to either send a letter of reference, or fill out a short questionnaire reference; the choice is entirely yours.
Depending upon your company and the job role you have interviewed for, your candidate may need a health declaration check and they may need a police check. Some roles don’t require this, some do, and some businesses ask for them as standard. If you require these, make sure the paperwork is sent out to the candidate for them to fill in and obtain the necessary documents, and you can be waiting for these to arrive back whilst you’re also waiting for their references. You can also ask them to pop into the office and fill out any necessary paperwork, if you want to speed the process up. In this case, you would meet them in your reception area, asking them to wait at the reception chairs until you’re ready to greet them. Once everything is received, assuming everything is okay, you can put together their offer letter.
An offer letter is a formal offer of employment to the candidate, outlining the job title, the salary, the hours, who they are to report to, and it also includes their official start date. You should ask the employee to reply back in writing formally accepting the job, to finalise the recruitment paperwork process.
It might seem long and drawn out, but ensuring you have everything in writing and all bases covered means that you’re not falling foul of any aspects of employment law. Everything needs to be documented and filed on their personal record also. Once the employee begins working they will also be issued with a contract of employment, which your HR Department can draw up, or you can do so if you are a small business. Again, this is a legal document which outlines the terms and conditions of their employment, including the amount of notice they will need to give if they wish to leave.
By this stage you’re almost there and your new candidate is almost sat in their new office chair! The start date you give them will depend upon how much notice they need to give in their previous employment, if they have any, and that is also something you will have asked them when you offered them the role. In most cases this is four weeks (one month), but some employers may ask for more or less notice. If your candidate is currently without employment, they are free to start immediately, and that’s a bonus for you!
Preparing For Their Arrival
Whilst you’re waiting for your new employee to complete their notice in their old job, or you’re waiting for the start date to simply roll around, it’s a good idea to start getting prepared for their first day. By having everything in place when they arrive, you’re allowing them to hit the ground running, and they don’t have to wait around for passwords to be set up on computer systems, training to be given, etc.
A few areas to cover whilst you’re waiting include:
- Find out if they have any specific requirements in terms of the best office furniture for them to complete their role, e.g. if they have any health concerns or disability. As an employer it is your responsibility to make amendments to a workstation if a person has a specific issue, to allow them to complete their duties. This could be as simple as a foot rest or it could be a larger modification, but you can ensure that it is all ready and in place for their first day.
- Set them up on the IT system and ensure they have password access, ready to begin.
- Arrange their induction training, usually to take place on the first day or two, and also arrange for any training required for the specific role, e.g. IT software systems.
- Ensure you have enough office furniture in place for their arrival. If you don’t, you could always look at lease office furniture for the short-term.
- Put together their employee wellness package, ensuring it is the same as everyone else’s.
- Inform your current employees about the new employee’s arrival and the date they can expert him or her to arrive.
- It might be a good idea to identify a mentor to help your new employee during the first few weeks, e.g. someone to ask questions about the role and to help show them around. You would also need to inform that person and check that they are happy with that adopted role too!
On their first day, you should arrange to meet your new employee somewhere central, usually picking them up from the reception area. A good way to calm the nerves of their first day is to take them to your breakout furniture and grab a coffee, welcoming them to the office and letting them know what you have prepared for them, e.g. induction training and informing them if you have decided to give them an informal mentor.
Always remember that a first day in a new job is terrifying, no matter how well they hide it. If you want to help your new employee settle in quickly, you need to understand this point and help make the transition into their new role as seamless as possible.
One of the simplest ways to do this is just to add a human touch – empathy and understanding.
The recruitment process can be long, drawn out, and it can also be very time consuming, not to mention expensive if you need to re-advertise because you didn’t find the right candidate the first time around. By knowing the entire process inside out and understanding the finer points, you can minimise the cost and disruption, whilst also ensuring that the end result is a fantastic new talent for your business.
Thank you for reading!