Sure, you may still see an occasional sign in a shop window, but nowadays there are several other forms of recruitment channels – and countless accompanying traps that you can fall into.
So how can you make sure you recruit the right person for the role, and what exactly are the most common traps you need to pay attention to? Here are nine tips on how to improve your recruitment.
1. Use competency based interviewsThese days, competency based interviews are the norm for effective recruiters. By recruiting this way, you can easily identify the talent with the right knowledge, skills, attitudes, and traits to deliver success in your organisation.
You already know that comparing individual staff members is difficult, and comparing recruitment candidates is even more so! You need to be able to look at the specific qualities of these individuals in order to compare like for like, otherwise you risk being snared by the first trap - the many biases that we all fall foul of.
2. Understand your biasesMake no mistake, we all have our biases. Recruitment experts refer to this as the ‘horns and halo’ effect, and it’s one of the most common traps we tend to fall into. Essentially this involves attributing unjustified positive or negative qualities to each individual, based on one salient factor that you either like or dislike.
For example: let's say you value articulate, well-spoken sales people. When you interview a smooth-talking candidate, you may be tempted to assume they're a great sales person. However, this might not be the case. After all, you haven't seen their ability to ask the right questions, focus on benefits and address objections yet – the core abilities they will need in order to perform well in the job.
It is incredibly difficult to overcome this natural psychological bias, as it's a part of our mental makeup. What you can do, however, is do your best to remain aware of it, and look out for situations where you are making judgements based on non-job-related perceptions of an individual.
Over time, you should try to gain awareness of your various recruiting biases, and iron them out. Even something as simple as preferring Times New Roman font over Arial on a CV could be affecting your judgement and impeding your ability to recruit the best people.
3. Avoid the “just like me” complexAnother trap that requires special attention is the so-called ‘like me’ bias. With this mind-set, you tend to recruit people who share the same vales as you. To put it simply, you are naturally more likely to want to recruit a person whose visions, characteristics, and personal taste are closer to you and what you believe in.
This can be useful in some situations, but not always. You are probably not recruiting for your own job role, so avoid the temptation to recruit a mini-you. Doing so may mean recruiting someone who is totally inappropriate for the actual role you're hiring for.
4. Use social media to your benefitIt can be incredibly cost-effective to use social media as a part of your recruitment strategy. Many organisations are leveraging employees' existing social networks for recruitment. By tapping into these ready-made networks, they're able to recruit people with similar experience, goals, ambitions, and competencies.
LinkedIn is probably the most valuable professional social network for this purpose, and should almost definitely play a part in your recruitment process.
5. Get better at assessing CVsWhen we have many CVs to review, we often fall into the trap of skimming over the ones that look less relevant. However, there are limitations to this approach. Recruiting someone from a similar industry who hasn't had much success may be much less productive than recruiting someone from a different industry, who is exactly the type of person who would thrive in the role you're hiring for.
When we are overloaded with CVs, we tend to develop a simple heuristic to assess them -perhaps just looking at previous job titles and searching for keywords. Instead, take an extra minute to look carefully at the background and achievements of the candidates you are looking at - you may well end up with a much better candidate pool.
6. Understand regression to the meanToday’s recruiters must recognise that performance will always regress to the mean. If someone does an outstanding job on one particular task, it does not mean that they will do as well next time. It is difficult to predict future job performance from a limited amount of information – candidates may do unusually well or poorly when tested at the hiring stage.
Try not to base recruitment judgements on single events. Rather, base your recruiting decisions on the average performance over an employee's recent career.
7. Recruit people with personalityRichard Branson is a big believer in recruiting people with personality. According to him, you can improve any other areas of an individual’s performance, but you can't change or build personality.
If you are recruiting for a sales, front of house, or another customer-facing role, then recruiting people with a personality closely suited to the role is a good way to ensure your organisation comes across well, not only to your customers, but also in your industry.
8. Involve existing teamsIt can be an excellent idea to introduce potential new employees to the team they will be joining. By doing so, you'll be able to get feedback and opinions from the team on the potential new hire. This can be particularly useful when you have a close-knit team that frequently collaborates on tasks. Sometimes, maintaining team culture is a critical but overlooked factor in recruitment considerations.
9. Tailor your recruitment to the organisationNo two recruitment processes are the same, so don’t be trapped into thinking that there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. It is crucial that your recruitment process be tailored to your organisation, and for the job roles that you are seeking to fill.
Think strategically about the roles, and ensure that you are looking at the right competencies and factors that would drive exemplary performance. If you fail to get the specific hiring criteria right, then your recruitment process itself will fail - no matter how well you execute it.
If you think your organisation needs to improve in this area, our one-day course on HR for Non-HR Managers may give you a bit of guidance.
Effective recruitment is an art form. It is not a tick box exercise, and the more you can carefully craft a process that accurately selects for job performance, the greater the returns you will see. What's more, existing teams and managers will be very appreciative of your ability to bring excellent new hires on board.