Having recently worked with a local business in Bath, I was reminded of how difficult it can be for a small business to recruit talent in a fiercely competitive market.
It proved to be a rollercoaster ride fraught with unexpected bumps and curve balls. This included getting very excited by a promising applicant, who then proved impossible to contact; speaking with blissfully carefree candidates who had not taken the time to check out the company website beforehand; and then those interviewees who excelled during a telephone interview, but decided for one frustrating reason or another to pull out before we even had chance to meet them.
The story has a happy ending but has prompted an emergency revisit to the basics before venturing forth again.
Define your Unique Selling Point (USP)
You must fully understand the culture of your business and be clear about what you can offer potential candidates.
This could be a working environment where career development opportunities are abundant, where flexible working arrangements are the norm, or where employees can join a thriving family business working closely with the business owners.
Think about what sets you apart from others in the local market and how to communicate it.
Build your Brand locally
Rather than wait until you need to replace somebody, get pro-active about targeting prospective candidates through social media networks. This could include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and your own company website. Encourage team members to post interesting articles about the kind of work that they are doing.
At the very least, make sure that your own website has a section where prospective candidates can see pictures and profiles of the current team and clearly signposts how they can get in touch.
Learn from the past
There are many things you can do to learn from previous experiences of interviewing. This way you can not only ensure that you get the right candidate, but also develop a consistent recruitment strategy which saves you time in the long run.
1. Develop a robust and slick recruitment process that leaves nothing to chance.
2. Invest time and effort in developing a job description which not only includes the expected responsibilities, it also reflects the culture of the business and the kind of person you are looking for in the role.
3. Make sure your approach captures learnings from previous hiring hits and misses refreshing job descriptions and adverts accordingly.
4. Research advertising mediums to determine which one might best target the right candidate for you.
5. Reach out to your network to find out what works best for them. Otherwise there are lots of specialist organisations that can provide this insight for you.
Do your homework
Preparation before the interview is not just something that candidate should do. It’s important for you too. This ensures that you are making the most of the opportunity to meet the prospective employee, and you are giving a good impression too.
1. Develop a structured assessment format, to include interview questions that reflect the job description, relevant case studies and exercises, and presentations if appropriate.
2. Put your best interviewers in place, who will promote your business in a positive and professional way. If time allows, it is always helpful to include introductions to the team and a tour of the office. Don’t forget this is a two-way evaluation process so allow candidates ask lots of questions, both inside and outside of the actual interview itself.
3. Keep in touch with candidates you are actively interested in, keeping them informed of next steps and logistics. This allows you to establish a rapport with the candidate and provides a further opportunity to sell your business along the way.
In this fast moving market, good people won’t hang around for very long and may be under hot pursuit by another employer. Invite potentially strong candidates to interview sooner rather than later. Be flexible with timings, meeting outside of normal working hours if required and fast track your top talent through the process.
In the example highlighted above, the employer had already prepared the offer letter and contract ahead of the final interview and the candidate left the building with the job offer in hand and a spring in their step. References were obtained immediately and the start date agreed.
So, to conclude, interviewing certainly isn’t easy. But there are steps you can take to help it run smoothly, and most importantly, efficiently.
This gives you all the information you need, and hopefully gives a good impression of your business, within a robust and consistent plan. Something you can replicate again and again, to help you compare candidates easily.