2. Introduction to Recruitment

Why is a Recruitment Process and Policy Important?
Making good recruitment decisions is key to an organisation's success. Making the wrong decisions can be costly and time consuming. There are no absolute certainties when it comes to recruitment, but there are things you can do to increase the odds! A clear process and policy is your starting point.
Setting out a clear recruitment policy will help you to think through all the stages in the recruitment process and decide how you want to manage each stage. Considering this beforehand will save time with recruitment and allow you to prepare fully. This will help you to make the right recruitment decisions.  

You may also want to set out some authorisation processes / sign offs as part of your policy.  Recruitment can be a time consuming and expensive business, so you want the right controls in place (e.g. who is authorised to decide that a position exists, who can agree salaries, rates with agencies or advertising costs).  

The First Step
Once it has been decided that there is a position to be filled, the very first step is to be clear about the role and what you are looking for. This may sound obvious, but it’s a very important area that can get missed. 

The best way to do this is to write a job description and then a person specification.  

Job Descriptions

It may seem obvious to write a job description, but many people fail to do this. The process of writing a job description will help clarify the role and duties (and overall responsibility etc.) and therefore the skills and experience required. It will also identify the basic terms and conditions (e.g. is it a full-time or part-time position, is it permanent or temporary etc.). 

The job description is an essential part of the recruitment process. From the job description you can brief an agency (and send them a copy) and/or write an accurate job advertisement. 

The job description and person specification will also allow you to shortlist candidates more objectively and can be provided to candidates prior to the interview so they are clear about the role and responsibilities at this early stage. A job description does not have to be inflexible and can always be changed over time. Especially in smaller organisations, it may be important for employees to take on multiple tasks or duties and this can be reflected in the description. 

A good job description will save time during the rest of the recruitment process. For more information, please see the section on job descriptions and the example job description in the templates section. 

Person Specification/Profile

The person specification allows you to identify the attributes of a person that are required for the job role. The person specification might therefore include some or all of the following:  
  • Physical make-up e.g. fitness to carry out required duties
  • Smart appearance to deal with customers 
  • Qualifications needed to carry out the job or which may be desirable or essential
  • General skills e.g. organisational skills, can manage own time, written skills, computer skills, attention to detail etc
  • Experience. Previous experience in a similar role may be important, or experience that can be transferred (or that they can demonstrate the potential to develop these skills).
  • Attitude - work ethic, self-motivated, enthusiasm
  • Progression and/or ambition - are you looking for someone who is keen to learn and progress (e.g. is the position part of succession planning or business growth).
Sources of Recruitment 

The next step is to source applicants. There are various methods and you should consider all of these (see guidance on applicant sourcing) . 
Response and Screening 

Initial Response
Consideration should be given to response handling from candidates and you should ensure that you have briefed people well. 

For example, even if you ask for applications to be in writing, some applicants will telephone. Make sure the reception or those answering calls know how to handle these and who to pass to. You may wish all applicants to complete a company application form and therefore they might phone to give their address so an application form can be sent out (see application form below). Ensure all enquires are handled politely and professionally. 

You can also consider making information available from your website so that they can download an application form or even fill in an application online. 

Once you have received responses you must ‘screen' applications to decide which applicants to invite for interviews. The job description and person profile will be invaluable in helping the screening process as you will be able to exclude those applicants who do not have the essential elements for the job. 

The Interview 
The secret to interviewing is preparation. 

Applicants should be given as much prior notice to the interview as possible and clearly told where and when the interview will be held. If you are intending on conducting any testing (e.g. a typing test), the candidate should be told in advance, so they are prepared for this. Candidates will generally be nervous about an interview so as much information as possible beforehand (even sending the job description) will help. 

A few points to consider when interviewing have been outlined below. These may seem obvious, but they can easily be overlooked - especially in a busy office/work environment. 
  • Let others in the organisation know that you are interviewing, i.e. reception, so they are expecting the applicants (and even give them a list of the applicants)
  • Tell other Managers or Directors so they know you will not be available
  • Hold the interview in an appropriate location (e.g. a private office or meeting room)
  • Make sure you will not be disturbed by the telephone or other interruptions
  • Have the candidate's details at hand and make sure you have read them again before the interview
  • Make sure you have any other relevant documentation with you - the job description, interview questions and interview summary sheet, Company literature (that you might give to the candidate) etc
  • Make notes about the candidate's responses throughout the interview 
  • Prepare some standard questions that you want to ask of all applicants 
  • Remember the interview is to allow you to find out about the candidate. The candidate should therefore do most of the talking (answering questions you ask)
For further details see the page on interviewing.

Interview Summary Sheet
It is recommended that an interview summary sheet/form be completed for each applicant. You can use the format on the example questions for this or design your own. This, together with the standard questions, can allow you to make more objective decisions about each candidate. The feedback form may be divided into different sections which might be taken from the job description. Standard questions can also be derived from the job description (as well as asking some general questions). For example, if a position requires an employee to use certain software, you can ask questions about this to determine their level of knowledge, write comments and if necessary give a score against this aspect (e.g. score each candidate out of 5 on each of the areas discussed). 

Completing an interview summary sheet may also be important in circumstances where candidates ask for feedback or where there might be suggestions of discrimination. 

Remember to ask open questions where possible. These require more than just a yes or no answer and will engage the candidate in more conversation. For example: 
  • A closed question would be: Are you familiar with this software?
  • An open question would be: How have you used this software before?
So, you might ask the first question, and if you get a ‘yes', continue with the second question to gain more information. 

Discriminatory Questions
Be careful not to ask discriminatory questions. These would be questions relating to a person's gender, race, age etc. For example, asking a woman if she intends to start a family would be discrimination. 

Some examples of questions you should not ask would include:
  • Are you married?
  • How many children do you have?
  • How do you plan on balancing work and childcare arrangements?
  • What childcare arrangements do you have in place?
  • Do you want children?
  • What does your husband do?
  • Where do you come from?
  • Is English your first language?
  • What political party do you belong to?
  • How old are you?
  • When do you plan on retiring?
Also see the section on equal opportunities and discrimination and example interview questions.

Testing and Further Interviews
You may wish to hold more than one interview with candidates and other people in the organisation may be involved at second interview stage. The first interviews will allow you to shortlist candidates for a second interview. The same process outlined above should be followed for second interviews. 

You may also wish to include some testing of candidates. The types of testing will depend on the job role and the methods used within the organisation. They may be basic numeric or typing tests (where appropriate) or you may use occupational testing or psychometric testing. Remember that testing is a tool to help in the selection process; it is not necessarily the main factor to be taken into account. For example, you might not select the person with the quickest typing test results when considering this with other factors. 

You may also wish to ask candidates who reach the final selection stage to spend some time in the organisation (e.g. a day or two) so both you and the candidate can get a real feel for things. During this time they will be able to meet potential colleagues, and possibly be involved in some actual work so they are clear about what the job entails. This can be an invaluable insight for both the Company and the individual. This gives the candidate a real feel for the company and the work they will be doing. 

The Final Selection 
Making the final selection should be a considered decision and include all those who have been involved in interviewing. If scoring has been used, this may make the decision easier in terms of rejecting those with the lowest score. However, where scores are close, consideration should be given to scores and comments and a final decision made. 

Offering Employment
It is strongly recommended that all offers are made in writing and are subject to a full contract of employment which is sent with the offer letter. (This is not to say that a verbal offer cannot be made as most organisations will want to speak to the candidate to give them the good news. However, any verbal offer should be made subject to confirmation in writing and the terms of the contract of employment). Please see the section on Contracts for further details.

If the Company has an employee handbook or any employment policies and procedures, it would be recommended that these are also sent at the point of offer, so the candidate is clear about these prior to employment. 

It is also recommended that the offer is made subject to: 
  • Satisfactory references
  • Satisfactory conduct and performance during a probationary period
  • A medical (if appropriate)
  • Any other warranties that might be appropriate (e.g. a salesperson confirms they are not in breach of, or subject to, any restrictive covenants when they join you).
A written contract (and handbook) will also give the new employee a professional view of the Company and will ensure the employment relationship is built on a firm foundation. Please see the section on Contracts of Employment for further details. 

Legal Considerations
As with all areas of employment consideration must be given to the possible legal obligations and liabilities that might arise. Your obligation and liabilities start at the recruitment stage.  Some areas to consider are: 
  • It is best practice to ask if an applicant requires any adjustments (for possible disabilities) when they attend an interview or at any stage in the recruitment process (this can simply be a question on your application form any advert).  
  • You should not decline an applicant because of a reason connected with a protected characteristic. For example, if you decline an applicant because you think they are too old, this could amount to age discrimination. If you decline an applicant because you think they may be starting a family soon, this would be sex discrimination.  If you declined an applicant because they were of an ethnic minority, this would be race discrimination.