As a business owner, at some point you are definitely going to need staff. Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company, as your business grows, you will need people to assist you with that growth.
Now there are 2 options that you have to acquire the staff; first you could utilise the services of a recruitment company to do it for you. Or second, you do it yourself.
If you choose Option 1,ensure you use a reputable recruitment company. There are definitely benefits to using a reputable recruitment company, such as time, money, legal implications, payrolling of staff etc. Make sure you hear first hand, from existing satisfied customers of the company you choose. Do some research around the local area. Find out the reputations of various companies. Make sure you meet with someone from that company, and that you buy into them. People buy from people. Remember a company name is only as good as the person sitting in front of you, promoting the brand. I’ve worked with lots of companies over a long period of time, and the best I’ve dealt with so far is:
Temp Team UK. A global organisation with a very local feel. They are heavily populated in the North of England. They have a very solid reputation, due to the excellent customer service they provide to both clients, and candidates alike. If you do decide to utilise the services of a recruitment company then I’d recommend you call them first. I personally know the MD and Operations Director. They are genuine, honest, humble people. There’s not a ‘salesy’ person in sight. Have a look at their website to find a branch near you www.tempteam.co.uk
If you choose Option 2, and decide you are going to recruit your own staff, and don’t have an HR department, then I’d suggest you follow these guidelines:
- Eligibility Checks – You must ensure that the person you hire is eligible to work in the UK. Acceptable Identification would be a full UK passport, or a copy of a full A4 birth certificate, (with parents names & occupation), at the time of birth. This would need to be accompanied with either an NI card, payslip, P45, (must be printed, cannot be hand written), or something from the Inland Revenue, clearly stating the National Insurance number. If your candidate is non UK, then there are different checks you will need to make. Candidates from the EU can provide a passport or ID card and can work for a period of time, but they must apply to the Home Office for WRS registration, and you must retain a copy of the WRS form, once it has been returned. Candidates from outside of the EU, must have a valid working visa, (you can get more in-depth detail on the Home Office website).
- Advertising your vacancy – This is really up to you. The job centre is the obvious choice as it is free. You can go with the local newspaper, (this is normally very pricey), or you can advertise online. You must be specific in your advert as to what you require in a candidate. Give clear concise specifications in your advert, detailing information about your company, information about the job role, characteristics of the individual, qualifications expected, hours of work, salary, information on the length of the assignment, whether it be permanent or temporary. You will also need to give details of how applicants should apply. I.e, via the telephone, email with CV & covering letter, written application etc. Give as much detail as you possibly can, to ensure you are attracting the best candidates.
- CV sifting – This is a task in itself. It can be very time consuming. See my earlier blog on ‘How to write a professional CV’, to gain an understanding of what a good CV looks like. Look for neat, tidy, professional, eye catching CV’s. The information on the CV must be relevant to the role you have advertised. They should really be highlighting in their CV, specific points, which you have included into your advert. If you have advertised for a marketing assistant, and someone sends a CV that gives great detail on PR, or sales, then you know they haven’t taken the time to tailor their CV, to hit the hot spots on your advert, (or that they are not really suitable for the role). One thing to remember when viewing a CV, you cannot tell how a person will perform, present themselves, act, or demonstrate just how good they are, until you see them face to face. A CV is a snapshot of that person’s experience. Just a snapshot, you’ll get to know the real person when you meet face to face. The next step is to pick out the best 5 CV’s, (as a guideline, you may choose more or less), that you feel would suit your business, then you have 2 options. Option1, invite them in for an interview. Option 2, give them a call, and go through a first stage telephone interview. I would always advise that you conduct a telephone interview. You could spend 10 minutes on the phone and decide if a candidate is unsuitable, or you could spend an hour face to face to come to the same conclusion. A telephone interview can be a very effective way of actually saving your time, rather than wasting it.
- Presentation – Once you have invited your applicants in to see you, the first impression they give you is vital. The old saying goes “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Very true words. It’s vital that when you see the candidate for the first time, they make a very good first impression. Watch out for how they are dressed, if they greet you with a smile, the handshake, (see my blog on top 10 interview tips), so you know what to look out for. Also make sure that you are well presented, greet your applicant with a smile, put them at ease immediately, and offer them a drink. You are also trying to give a good first impression, as you want the candidate to buy into you. You want them to do well so it’s important that you do all you can to help them do so. At this stage you may also want your applicants to sit some form of aptitude test. There are many available such as Discus Profiling, or Psychometric testing. It depends on you as a company, and the role you are advertising. Try Saville & Holdsworth in Surrey. They are very well known, and can tailor a test just for you, and your business.
- Prepare an Interview Structure – This needs to be relevant to the role. I would prepare 15-20 pertinent questions. Try and include competency based questions. For instance, if you are interviewing a Health & Safety Manager you could ask a question such as “Can you tell me a time when safety was compromised on your shift, and how you went about dealing with, and resolving the situation?” Once they have answered, ask another question about the same subject, such as: “So what part did you play in that process? How did you feel? How did this affect the other members of staff at the time? What was the end result and how did that impact on the site? Really dig deep into every question. One question, could lead to 6 questions about the same topic. Extract as much information as you can, but ensure the questions you ask, are relevant to your business, and the role the candidate is applying for. See how well your candidate reacts on the spot. Are they fazed, nervous or uncomfortable? Or are they able to react well, be methodical with their answers, and give intelligent answers.
- Go through the CV – Have a look at their CV during the interview, (and before). It’s important that you are also very well prepared. As an interviewer you should be fully aware of their qualifications, work history, key achievements, hobbies & interests. By doing this you are showing that you have taken the time to read their CV, and learn as much as you can about the candidate before meeting them. When going through the CV, talk about each job role that they have had. Explore the tasks they did, who they worked with, the culture of the organisation, and the reasons for leaving. Lookout for any negative feedback they may give about previous employers, managers, or colleagues. This is not a good sign if you hear such feedback. They are there to give positivity only, and highlight the positive aspects of previous roles, also to demonstrate successes and achievements. Ensure you go through every part of the CV, making notes as you go, extracting as much information as you can from the candidate.
- Listening – I’ve said it before, listening is probably the biggest skill a person can execute, and carry out effectively. If a candidate constantly interrupts you, then they are not interested in hearing what you have to say. All the great philosophers, writers, & scholars, over the centuries have written about this. The person, who appears genuinely interested in what others have to say, will immediately be liked, and win friends. It’s your interview, you are chairing the meeting. You are directing the questions. You will give the candidate the opportunity to speak and present themselves when the time is right. So look out for interruptions, constant talking, not being able to get a word in. They have to show that they have the ability to listen, as well as talk!
- Questions – Your candidates should be asking you questions during the course of the interview. They should be intelligent, pertinent questions about the company, the role, the structure, the training, the ethos and the culture. If you are being asked how many days holiday is offered, or how many breaks are taken each day, then you know they are more interested in what’s in it for them, rather than what’s in it for both parties. At this point you should know whether or not a rapport has been built between you and the candidate. You are going to be working with this person, so ask yourself. Would we work well together? Would this person fit into our team and the ethos of the company? There are other things you could introduce into the interview at this stage, such as behavioural questioning or role play. If you are interviewing a sales candidate, ask them to sell you something. If you are interviewing an IT candidate, give them a problem to analyze, and solve. The deeper the level of the interview, the better you will get to know, understand the person, and decide if they are suited to your requirements.
- Attitude – You are looking for a candidate that has an excellent attitude. Attitude is so important. If your gut feeling tells you that a candidate’s attitude is not quite right, then listen to it, as it is normally bang on the money every time. Yes they have to have the skills and experience to meet the criteria for the role, but in life attitude is everything. Qualities such as drive, enthusiasm, belief, ambition, positivity, passion, determination & politeness, all come from within. Skills can be taught. Attitude comes from within. After an hour with a person in a face to face interview, asking the correct questions, and really understanding them, you should gain a fairly good understanding of what kind of attitude that person has. You may find a candidate who has an excellent attitude, but only meets 8/10 of the criteria required for the role. Then you may find someone who hits 10/10, but is demanding a higher salary package, who’s attitude you are unsure about. It’s your choice but I know who I would choose.
- Reference Checks – It’s very important that the person you eventually decide to hire is the right person. Statistics show that the average cost of a recruit today is around £5000. So you need to get it right first time. Ask for professional working references, from current or last employer. If a candidate is reluctant to give you details of their last employer, you have to ask yourself why. Did they leave under a cloud? Were they dismissed? If so for what reason? Ask for contact names and phone numbers. Give the previous employer a call, and ask questions about attendance, performance, timekeeping, honesty, attitude etc. You need to be 100% sure that the candidate you hire is credible. It will be a very costly exercise if you spend 3 months training the person, then problems start to occur, and they end up leaving you for whatever reason. So do your checks properly, and protect your investment.
- Discrimination - The laws have changed of late, so you need to be very careful what questions you ask an interview candidate. Since the age discrimination law came into place, you are no longer allowed to ask a person their age. People should not be putting their date of birth on a CV. You are also not allowed to ask someone if they are married, have children, what their living arrangements are. Why? Because none of it is relevant to whether or not they can perform the job role you have advertised. So keep your questions specific to the role, the skill set, the experience, the qualifications etc. You can’t ask personal questions any more.
- Contract of Employment – Is essential. You are both entering into an agreement; therefore a contract needs to be in place. If you think you can employ someone without a contract of employment in place, then I’m afraid you are mistaken. Call any employment solicitor, or HR business and they will confirm this. The contract is there to protect both parties. It states the conditions of employment. The contract will include details such as remuneration, hours and place of work, working hours, holiday entitlement. It will also include company policies such as disciplinary process, notice period, company rules, regulations & expectations. It’s all down in black & white for both parties to see. You know where you stand from day one. So if you do decide to do your own recruitment, and don’t have an HR department, then seek advice from a professional so that both your company, and your candidate are fully protected.
So there you have it, 2 options. Use a reputable recruitment company, or recruit your own staff. Remember that recruitment companies will do all of the above for you, and are heavily regulated by the BIS, (Department for Business Innovation & Skills). Find out if they are also members of the REC, (Recruitment & Employment Federation). They must comply with all of the above by law, so if you do use a reputable company, you are automatically protected. They also take away all the tasks I have outlined above, saving you time, energy, and money. Some firms will offer you a guarantee in the form of a rebate, if anything goes wrong with the candidate. If you recruit your own staff, then follow the guidelines, and protect your company.