Eight steps to avoid expensive recruitment mistakes

Finding the right staff remains a perennial concern for both small and medium sized businesses – as reinforced in a recent report produced by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Bad recruitment decisions not only impact on a company’s bottom line, they set morale plummeting – and lead to staff questioning if your leadership and decision making skills are all they are cracked up to be.

Severe skills shortages in both service and manufacturing sectors mean that employers and their recruiters are waking up to the reality that an increasingly scarce, skilled and ambitious labour pool has never been more aware of its own marketability.

Having the right people in the right places will power your business to the next level – increasing productivity, positive attitudes and behaviours while reducing staff turnover, absenteeism and unpunctuality.

Our pioneering Bayford Foundation training arm was created in 2012 to address these very issues. By looking ‘outside the box’ we forged powerful partnerships with community organisations including The Princes Trust. The £150k we have invested in the foundation to date has brought about £7m worth of new business this year alone and been instrumental in us achieving some ambitious business goals.
We’ve compiled our ‘learns’ from our past recruitment experiences into the steps below:

1. Use CVs as an effective filtering process
CVs are not dead in the water – neither are they the panacea to determine if your candidate is right, so use them as a quick overview of their work record and education. For our telesales roles, the deciding factor on offering a job is not about the odd typo here and there – because we’re more interested in attitudes and behaviours and, critically, whether the candidates will fit into our culture.

2. Dig deep at the interview stage
Keep drilling down with your questions to find out exactly what the candidates are bringing to your table from their life and work experiences. If they can’t answer the questions, cut the interview short to avoid wasting your time and theirs.

3. Establish how committed your candidate is
Bosses and senior managers are all too aware that every interviewee will gush about how fantastic your business is. The proof of the pudding lies in whether they have taken the time and effort to find out about it – along with the challenges and opportunities posed by the sector you operate in. It is also a good sign if they ask you a series of well thought through questions as opposed to wanting to find out about bonuses and holiday allowance.

4. Think laterally
Avoid limiting your recruitment process to schools and the university milk round. Consider people who hail from non-academic route; apprentices, those with relevant vocational qualifications and those from excellent human resources, such as the Prince’s Trust, the probation service and local community groups who might have spotted and encouraged great potential – as we have discovered at first hand.

5. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Taking the opposite stance in our recruitment strategy for our foundation has seen us take on people from all walks of life including former inmates – who have proven they are more than up to the job – and have turned out to be some of our best salespeople.

6. Take time to find the right people
Many bosses commit the mistake of rushing to fill a gap, skipping interview processes – and taking on the first person who seems remotely suitable. When you scramble to take on ‘someone’, you get ‘someone’ instead of ‘the right one’. A rule of thumb is to allocate between 4-6 weeks to thoroughly vet candidates. The adage ‘hire at leisure’ is as applicable now as it was 20 years ago.

7. If you make a mistake take immediate action
If you recognise early on that you’ve made a big mistake, then cut your losses and let the employee go. Too many SMEs make the error of hanging onto the wrong people in the hope that ‘they will get better’. In our experience they invariably never do and it is both kinder to the person concerned and less expensive to take instant action.

8. Involve the wider team
When recruiting it can also be effective to involve team members in the interview process as they will be working with your new employee on a daily basis. We’ve found a great deal of extra insight from using team members in interviews. As a committed ‘people champion’ we believe that sharing our vision and communicating business developments also goes a long way to engendering loyalty and buy in from our team.

Finally, always keep the bigger picture in mind when recruiting and ensure that both your prospective candidates and current team are in the right seats as your business travels to the next stage of its journey.

By Adam Walsh, business director, The Right Fuelcard Training Company (TRFC)