Best practice recruitment larger SME’s

It’s at this time of year where companies all over the land are recruiting. So I think we’ll kick back off talking about best practice recruitment. Enjoy!

It’s clichéd but it’s true, business is all about people, get the right people to work for you and you will have success. Recruiting can be hard work and costly on time especially if you get it wrong. Take my advice, don’t be daunted and concentrate on getting it right.

I have employed thousands of people in my career and my golden rule to recruitment is:


This may sound like a strange thing to say but many interviewers have doubts but still employ regardless. You get a sixth sense when a candidate walks into the room. If they come across as curt or over confident, shy or too quiet that’s what they will be like in the workplace! Your gut feeling is always right so when you are discussing someone post interview and you say “I liked them but…” it’s a no!

Having more staff does not always lead to more success! Success in your business should be judged by a good cash flow, consistent turnover and growth in profits .More staff means more wages, employers NI contribution, pensions, bigger offices and overheads.

If you have the need to recruit then do so but you must sanity check your costs and decide how much the person has to contribute prior to you making a penny in profit. My rule of thumb is each person has to bring in 130% of their wage value otherwise they are waste of money.

1. Keep to budget

All larger SMEs should have a budget per year for staff numbers which is in line with the company cost base. Remember if the new employee cost in salary is £30K what will they need to generate in gross profit to make you net profit?

My first rule of thumb for big businesses is keep to budget otherwise over recruiting will have a direct impact on your net profit. If you are down on staff numbers recruit away. If not, can you justify new additions and forecast what impact this person will have on the bottom line?

2. Review and use a job description

The bigger the business the more watered down job descriptions can get. I would encourage you to review your job descriptions on an annual basis to ensure they are relevant. A good job description can make or break performance. If you don’t have written guidelines and explain these to an employee how are they meant to know and what are you going to manage them against.

3. Choose the interviewers wisely

  • First impressions last so do not have a member of staff interview for you unless you would take them to a business meeting to represent you.
  • Never interview a candidate alone.
  • Always try and use different people in the first and second interview to try and get a cross section of opinion.
  • Remember not liking someone can sometimes be personal. Try to act objectively by asking other members of staff for their opinion.

4. Set the structure

You must have a structure for the interview otherwise you will never get consistency of calibre in a big company. I have listed below a simple structure:

  • Approve role against budget
  • Approve job description
  • Advert placed or consultant engaged
  • CV sift
  • Telephone interview
  • 1st interview
  • 2nd interview
  • Work placement
  • Offer
  • Induction including training plan and 3 month objectives set
  • 3 month appraisal
  • Success!

5. Using every tool – Psychometric testing

Larger companies who have the affordability should use every possible tool to help them get the right staff. Psychometric testing can be used by testing the employees who you would like to replicate and then benchmark each candidate against their scores. It measures personality traits as well as decision making so it is well worth doing but only invest in this once a candidate is through to the 2nd interview.

6. Sanity check in work

If a candidate passes the first and second interviews, I always look to road test them when possible. It is really important for me that an employee can fit in quickly. I test this is by sitting them in the team they are likely to work in for a few hours and get a good member of staff to spend time with them. This allows me to gather more opinions, see how they gel with people and for them to see what the working environment and atmosphere is like. Doing this will lead to a more informed decisions for both parties. One of the key points to remember about a recruitment process is it’s a short time span to really road test a potential employee

7. Induct well and they will perform

Remember, the job is not finished once your new employee starts! It’s just begun!

How you treat a new member of staff within their first few weeks will make or break their attitude towards you and the company. If you don’t give them an induction, training, a desk equipped for what they need and they will walk and you will have to start again! You must provide an induction and at least a two week plan for them to follow. They will need to understand what you do, how you do it and how you want the job done. I would suggest you use a buddy system which works really well. If you have departments, make them spend time with each in line with the process their job will follow. Ensure their job description is explained in full and they understand what is expected of them within their 3 month probationary period.

8. Ensure they don’t disappear

New staff have more opportunity to go under the radar in a medium to large company so don’t let this happen! It is your job to ensure they are managed and they achieve their 3 month objectives. If they don’t why would you keep them on? If you set the expectations as I have said in their induction, ensure you set a 3 month diary date to review how they have got on. Let it roll on and its gets harder to address!