The recruitment process explained
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Recruiting the right people is rarely simple. Getting the right fit for the role, as well as your business, can be a really challenging and time-consuming prospect. The answer is to have a bullet-proof recruitment process. One that saves you time, and makes sure you find people who fit your role perfectly.

The key steps to successful recruitment

  1. Get the job advert right
  2. Ensure your recruitment process is accessible
  3. Decide on your interview questions
  4. Come up with a scoring system
  5. Check the applicant’s right to work in the UK
  6. Give your new employee a thorough induction

1. Get the job advert right

It might seem like a simple step, but you need to be clear what you’re expecting from candidates. Not just in terms of experience, but also how they will work for you.

Something many people don’t realise is that you can have a discrimination tribunal claim made against you before someone is even your employee. Therefore, it’s vital to take every precaution when recruiting to be as fair to all candidates as possible, only putting elements in the advert about things like anti-social working hours, for example, if you can genuinely justify them for business reasons.

There are even people who try to make a living by making applications for jobs they have no intention of getting, and then claiming some sort of discrimination when they are rejected to try to force employers into paying compensation, so it is worth taking the time to make your advert and selection process clear and fair.

A good job advert will also help you to choose candidates more effectively. If the advert includes a set of skills and experience required as a minimum to fulfil the role, you can start by filtering the job applications, ticking off each applicant’s relevant skills and rejecting those who clearly don’t have these core skills.

It is also important that if you are using application forms, the form itself doesn’t expose you to any sort of discrimination claims, and that any questions you do ask are a justified requirement of the role.

As a rule of thumb, if you are intending to include anything in your application form about the candidate’s age, health, criminal convictions, trade union membership, or any other questions that relate to protected characteristics under equality law, it is best to seek expert HR advice first.

The best practice is to keep your application form short and simple. Kristina Martić, Head of marketing at the recruitment software company TalentLyft, explains why:

“The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently reported that 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. The message here is clear – include only the questions that are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you might lose some great, high-quality candidates – and that would be a huge waste!”

2. Make your recruitment process accessible

As well as ensuring your job advert and application form isn’t discriminatory, you should also consider how to make your whole recruitment process as accessible as possible for candidates, specifically in relation to disabled individuals. If candidates tell you about a disability, such as a visual impairment, give them a call to find out how best to present any information to them.  In particular, don’t make assumptions regarding their disability.

When inviting candidates to interview, be sure to ask if there are any reasonable adjustments that you can make to enable them to attend and fully participate.  This may include a change in location, time environment, or an interpreter.

And remember not to ask for information at this stage about a candidate’s health.  Health screening can be permitted after an offer has been made, to identify if any reasonable adjustments need to be made ahead of them starting with you.

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3. Take time over your interview questions

Remember, the interview is as much an opportunity for the candidate to assess you as the other way around. So take the time to prepare properly for the interview, and you will give the candidates a much more engaging experience of your business.

Although it’s helpful to tease out a candidates’ future career aspirations, by asking a popular questions such as “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, because these questions are quite common, you may get a well-rehearsed response Therefore, businesses that take the opportunity to ask questions relevant to the candidate’s CV and show a real interest in their experience may get a more natural, meaningful  response.

Being personable and interested can give you the edge when attracting top talent.  And searching interview questions to assess their attitude are especially important for a smaller business: is the candidate willing to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in?

Evaluating a candidate’s CV may also give you an opportunity to create specific tasks that really test their strengths, as opposed to just talking about them. Remember it’s very easy for a candidate to say they can do something; why not get them to actually do a presentation or a written task for you, for example?

Steer clear of personal questions

A sure-fire way of landing yourself in an employment tribunal is to ask questions about the personal circumstances of a candidate.

For example, if you were to ask “are you planning a family?” and then not hire the candidate, it’s plausible that they could think you had based your decision on their answer to that question. And unfortunately for you, that could be a discrimination claim.

So, to avoid any issues like this, it’s best to steer clear of these sorts of questions entirely unless they’re raised by the candidate.

4. Come up with a scoring system

A points system where you rate the candidates can make the whole process much easier for you. As we’ve mentioned, ticking off the candidate’s skills against a job advert will really help you to manage incoming applications more efficiently. You can also apply this technique to the rest of the recruitment process by allocating points for answers to interview questions, presentations or tasks they perform for you and even their personal appearance, tardiness and anything else you want to look out for. The key here is that you must assess all candidates for the same qualities.

Scoring candidates based on their interview performance helps you to find the best fit for your team as well as for your business. For example, someone that has lots of experience but whose attitude to work may not fit in, may not score as highly as a less experienced but more hard-working candidate.

Be mindful not to hand out arbitrary scores. Your scores should be set prior to the interviews taking place to avoid any misleading skewing of the scores towards any specific candidate.

5. Check the applicant’s right to work in the UK

It is really important to check that every person you employ has the legal right to work in the UK. Employing someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK is illegal and the penalties for doing so are severe, including fines and prison sentences for the worst offenders

Once you have decided to hire someone you need to request documents from them which prove that they have a right to work in the UK. For EU nationals, you will need to complete an online check to confirm their EU Settled Status.

The Equality Act 2010 is especially important during this process as you have to directly consider someone’s nationality.  This means that you need to be particularly careful to avoid anything which might give anyone any grounds to think you are being discriminatory.

The best way to make sure that you do not discriminate is to have a standard approach to ‘right to work checks’ which you use for every new person you employ. Please be careful not to make assumptions about a person’s right to work in the UK on the basis of their background, appearance, name or accent.

6. Give your new employee a thorough induction

Hiring people is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, when you make a hire, you want to make it count.

This means properly inducting people into your business. It’s not just a Health & Safety consideration; ensuring that the employee feels welcomed and understands what they’re supposed to be doing helps you to get the most out of them in the future.

It is also important to ensure you protect your business as best possible with new hires. Some suggested steps you can take include:

Making conditional employment offers

For example, employment offers should be made subject to satisfactory references, or proof of their right to work in the UK as explained above.

Having probationary periods

The purpose of this period is to allow you to assess the employee’s suitability in the role, with the option to confirm the post, extend the probation, or dismiss the employee depending on their performance during this time.

Drafting a clear employment contract

It’s a legal requirement to provide a written statement of employment particulars within the first two months of a new employee joining a company, and will help ensure that both you and the employee have a clear set of terms and conditions should you ever need to refer to these.

Get HR Support

If you need advice or support surrounding any of the steps in the recruitment process, our HR consultants can help.

Get in touch on or give us a call on 0333 014 3888 to find out more about how we can help your business with friendly, expert HR support.


The content of this blog is for general information only. Please don’t rely on it as legal or other professional advice as that is not what we intend. You can find more detail on this in our Terms of Website Use. If you require professional advice, please get in touch.

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