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How To Avoid The Most Expensive Recruitment Mistakes

22 September 2021

There must be no compromise when it comes to hiring the right talent for your business.

Unfortunately, recruitment is often one of the most overlooked areas of operation. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the process if you are unsure exactly you are looking for, especially if the vacant role is a critical one. This leads many to leave the task with someone else, usually an expensive external agency.

With a considered approach and the right techniques, you can avoid making several key errors when recruiting, giving yourself the best chance of success, attracting the right talent and saving money at the same time.

One of our clients, Steve, who heads a growing business, lost four of his top executives’ overnight. Panic would be an understatement!

Today I want to talk about how Steve went about getting the right replacements, the right talent for his company, and how he saved a huge amount of money and time in the entire process.

When this happened, the initial reaction was to panic and question how any of his growth plans were going to come to fruition without these key people in his business. They were client-facing sales positions, very high value generating positions.

There was a huge amount of frustration and anger but once the emotion subsided, we decided the best course of action was to sit down and plan this all out carefully.

I’m going to be sharing with you some very important pointers here. As far as talent is concerned, there can be no compromise. We cannot take short-term decisions or knee-jerk reactions, it has to be done efficiently. If not, then you will just be papering over some big cracks and they will start showing sooner rather than later.

Make a note of 2 key points:

  1. Objectivity – We need to take an objective approach to this entire process, so we’re not letting our emotional biases kick in. More importantly, we should be comparing and selecting candidates in the right way.
  2. Paranoia – I’m referring here to productive paranoia or pre-emptive paranoia. What I mean by that is that you have to ask yourself what could potentially go wrong, when the candidate comes on board. What do you have to check right now, before making an offer, to ensure this person is the right fit for the organization?

Define the role clearly

The first thing we wanted to do was to define the job description carefully, based on KPI clarity. If you haven’t currently set effective KPIs for each key role in your business, you will need to consider this before moving on.

Depending on the role, you need to decide on some non-negotiables too. As an example, I identified the key characteristics of a sales superstar in a previous post.

Here, Steve jotted down the appropriate KPIs and he re-crafted the entire job at a super, crystal clear level. This ensured we were clear on what we were looking for, what we didn’t want, the base level criteria, everything. The next step was to widen our net. We put the word out to our team, told suppliers, put it online and reached out to trusted recruiters.

Don’t waste your time

After that, what generally happens, is that you realise you have to fit recruitment around your day-to-day. However, our process is massively leveraged. You do very little as an employer and you allow candidates to deselect themselves as they go through the stages of the process.

Once you have good candidates coming in, there are a set of assessments. You don’t want to waste your time, or another person’s time unless you know that they meet the base level criteria.

To give you an idea of the process we put together here, we had them come to the office and complete:

  1. Written questions and answers
  2. Some interesting case studies, with a focus on numbers.
  3. An IQ test
  4. Psychometric profiling

These steps ensure that the person understands the fundamentals in certain given scenarios, that they are comfortable with numbers and that they have a suitable level of written English. The profiling also allows us to assess whether they would be the right fit or not for the position and the team.

Narrow the funnel

Once you start to qualify candidates based on the assessments, you can sit down for one-to-one interviews.

At this point, you can step back and appreciate that we started with multiple candidates, entering the top of the funnel, and now we have successfully narrowed that funnel down to the few quality candidates that passed each stage so far.

Make sure, for the interview stage, that you have a proper script, with a well-thought-out set of questions. If you need help with this, we are more than happy to recommend the right books to read, if you want to become a pro at asking the right questions.

Steve followed the script, followed his process, asked the right kinds of questions, and not just based on his mood, or intuition, or how he was feeling towards the candidate.

Check their references!

Finally, we had another round of interviews and offers were made based on a satisfactory reference check.

People often take this very lightly, it’s just a formality to tick a box. However, much like earlier stages, it is important to use an appropriate set of questions here. The idea is not to catch the person out but to identify their talent as accurately as possible. If someone has worked with them in the past, or their current role, you should want to hear from that person.

Consider a trial

Once that happens, the chances of success for this candidate are high and in some positions, you may decide to run a trial. This is a good idea if, for example, you need to check their IT skills and find out if they’re the correct fit, once they’re actually in situ. If this is important for your role, then it’s a smart idea to call them into the office for half a days work, paid.

Now, I want to finish by saying that, from start to finish, Steve had hired all four vacant positions in just three weeks and, by following this process, had saved around £10,000-15,000 on recruitment fees. Of course, we spent a good amount of money online, to begin with, but in the end, he was able to move fast and fill the positions, with a higher probability of success than he would have usually expected.

Through the right interviewing and testing process, you’re aiming to find the right cultural fit, a matchup in values and how this person has progressed in his or her career. Most importantly, you’re avoiding any blind spots.

At every step, we are being pre-emptive and we are being objective as we move at a solid pace.

I hope this has been useful for you, whether you are currently recruiting or not. I can tell you one thing, hiring the right people is critical for any business that wants to grow and move forward. It is sadly very easy to get wrong when you’re in a state of desperation or you want to be subjective, or intuitive. The correct process avoids that.

If you need any help with this, whether it is getting the right assessments or techniques in place or making sure you have enough steps to narrow your funnel effectively, please feel free to reach out.

If done inefficiently, this mistake can become a very expensive mistake for any business.

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