7 steps to a foolproof recruitment process

There are seven simple recruitment process steps that you should follow every time you hire

The recruitment process seemed obvious - until you were the person responsible for it. Now it just feels daunting. The good news is that, give or take, nearly every recruitment drive can be broken down into seven steps - some of which you will be familiar with already.

Here's a one-stop guide that you can use time and again. Perfect for staying in line with legislation, running a foolproof recruitment process and hiring candidates that are a better fit than Cinderella's shoes.

Yes, there's a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. But we will help you rise to the challenge.

Profile the position

The key to getting what you want? Knowing what you are looking for. That's where good planning comes in. Now, we know you are stretched. Most likely you are already spinning a number of plates. But getting this first step right will make the rest of the recruitment process easier and faster - not to mention more geared towards finding the candidates your business actually needs.

Get an in-depth understanding of the role you are hiring for. Why is a new employee needed? What duties and responsibilities will the successful candidate have? What skills or abilities are required to succeed in the role? And where does this role fit within the wider business structure? Activate detective mode and find the answers.

You will need them to...

Prepare the job description and person specification

These are written descriptions of: 1) the role you are recruiting for and; 2) the type of candidate needed to fill it. They will be one of the first things jobseekers read when they find your job vacancy. Attracting the right applicants is largely about getting these two documents right, so it's worth spending time on them.

Now, we're assuming you don't want to be drowning in a sea of CVs from applicants who are unqualified or unsuitable for the job, so you'll want to include as much detail about the vacancy and ideal candidate as you can - without overwhelming potential applicants. As you might have guessed, there's an art to it.

Choose where to hunt for candidates

In the age of information, there are literally thousands of places to promote your job vacancy. If you are taking a DIY approach to your recruitment, you certainly won't struggle to find jobsites that will be happy to promote your vacancy to thousands of jobseekers.

But perhaps the first thing to ask yourself is whether the best person for the job is already right under your nose? Internal hiring has some big benefits: it motivates staff, it can save a lot of money and the successful candidate will already be au fait with the company culture. (You won't have to explain how the printer works either.)

Another option is to use social media to promote your vacancy. The immediacy of platforms like Twitter and Facebook gives you a bullet-fast way to drum up interest in the role. But perhaps the shrewdest way to utilise social media is to turn to LinkedIn, where a network of more than 350 million professionals is at your fingertips.

To-do list already looking more like a Roman scroll? Managing your own recruitment process is eminently achievable, but it requires time. Lots of it. If you are already struggling to fit everything in, you might want to consider outsourcing to a recruitment agency, especially if you are serious about finding the candidate that ticks the right boxes.

A good recruitment agency can take care of everything, without forcing you to relinquish control of the important decisions. We should know. As the UK's #1 recruitment company*, we have placed hundreds of thousands of talented jobseekers with satisfied employers companies. We can do the same for you.

Review your applications (you will have a lot)

Good candidates should quickly and clearly highlight how their experience aligns with the available role. So revisit your job description and person specification for a reminder of what you are looking for. Don't feel bad about scan-reading applications. The onus is on your applicants to prove their suitability as quickly as possible. And, trust us, after reading 100 CVs you'll be able to spot the standout candidates a mile off. Take a deep breath and dive in.

Pro tip: expect curveballs. Some candidates will surprise you, lacking the experience you were looking for but clearly possessive of transferable skills that could see them succeed in the available position. 

No matter how well you crafted your job description and person specification, you will always receive wildcards. And they shouldn't always be discredited. Sometimes judicious flexibility can pay off.

Conducting interviews

So you've reached the interview stage. The marmite step of the recruitment process. But whether you love them or hate them, interviews cannot be sidestepped. They give you invaluable contact time with your candidates, allowing you to deep-dive into each applicant's professional background to see how well they might be suited to your vacancy. Avoid the needlessly confusing curveball questions and look to find out as much about each interviewee's experience as you can. Your time together will go fast. You don't want to be left wondering.

Our advice? While you hold the lion's share of the power, remember that interviews are a two-way thing. Your candidate will be looking to see whether your business is the right fit for their career. So remember to courteous and sell the benefits of the position and organisation. Who knows what potential prodigy you have sat in front of you?

Checking references, drawing up a contract and offering the job

Once you have shortlisted your top candidates it's time to check their references. Many employers miss this recruitment step, but it's essential to check your candidate's background to help make sure they are everything they claim to be. (Hiring the wrong person can be eye-wateringly costly.)

If everything is in order you will need to draw up a contract of employment. You will most likely have a template that can be adapted to the salary, number of holiday days, working hours and responsibilities. If not, we can take care of it for you. Then it's on to the fun bit. Offering the job.

Help your new hotshot settle in

Some things never change. Like the fact that being the new guy/girl often feels awkward and difficult and uncomfortable. You and your business can win some serious loyalty points by making a special effort to help your new candidate settle in, rather than just showing them to their desk and expecting them to knuckle down on your new account.

Think about the basic stuff. Do they know where the toilets are? Or what the arrangements are for lunch? Make them feel welcome. Get colleagues to talk them through the ropes. Take them out for lunch and talk about non-work stuff. It's amazing how many businesses slip up here. Which means you have a great opportunity to differentiate yourself and get your new relationship off to the best possible start. Read more here on onboarding best practices and making your new hire feel welcome here.

Recruitment is not easy to do alone. But when you have a proven process to follow you wind up with more time to concentrate on the important stuff: finding a candidate that will fit your business, your budget and the role you are recruiting for.

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