There are a number of analogies that come to mind that people use to describe poor ineffective recruitment including the popular “square pegs in round holes”. However, I tend to think of recruitment in comparison to the typical Sunday morning amateur football team. Most players want to be “up front” – they seek the glory, status and recognition of being the main goal scorer, the match winner, the key man! But of course a football team cannot consist of 11 centre forwards – there must be players selected for other specific roles, not least in the goalkeeping position!

Teams, by their nature, consist of multiple individuals in various roles contributing and working towards an agreed set of outcomes. Similarly, when recruiting and selecting new staff it is crucial that the candidate has the right skills, experience and abilities to perform in the specific role that they are being hired for!


Define the Role

I’ve known several companies advertise roles with just the very basic description about what the job entails and then they are surprised, even shocked, to receive numerous applications from potential candidates that very obviously don’t fit the bill in any way, shape or form. Therefore it is very important that a comprehensive job description is written that clearly and accurately defines the skills, experience, expertise, attributes and qualities required. Furthermore, clarity should be given to those criteria which are “mandatory” or “of benefit” or simply “nice to have”.


Think about the Team Dynamics

Very few people work in absolute isolation so it is important that attention is paid to the structure of the existing team or department. It can be quite daunting for a new recruit to blend in with a tight team that know each other extremely well. There certainly can be issues of jealousy, resentment or downright rudeness should an existing team member feel that they have been over-looked for a promotion (for example). Similarly, in situations where the existing team has been in place for a considerable period of time, there can be a strong resistance to any kind of change. Often the mind-set is “it’s always been that way” so why do we need to change? Consideration must be given when interviewing to assess the character and personality of the candidate. Do they have the self-confidence and mental toughness to overcome potential conflict? Do they have the persuasive skills to integrate with their colleagues? Do they have the interpersonal skills to become an accepted member of the team?


Which ponds to fish in?

There are several ways to promote and fill vacancies.  Whilst there is still great value in using the traditional (selected) recruitment agencies, the dramatic growth in the use of technology, especially the internet, has generated a number of job boards and social media sites that can provide inexpensive advertising. Be careful though: the internet is far reaching and unless you deploy some form of filtering process you may be inundated with a volume of applications that you find quite overwhelming, particularly in today’s tough economic climate where not only could there be local applicants but also others from throughout the UK and potentially even other countries.


Meet & Greet

I’m a great believer in the importance of “the first impression”. Both from the employer and the candidate perspective, often the decision of suitability is taken within the first 30 seconds of the initial greeting. (That said, due to the severe unemployment challenges and shortage of jobs, it may be more subliminal from the candidate’s perspective and therefore dismissed by them).

Therefore, the very first interaction that the candidate has with the receptionist or security person or whomever will immediately convey a message, either positive or negative. For me, the culture of a company is defined by their people (employees). I’m sure that we have all had that “good feeling” about an organisation right from the very first step into reception. A kind word and a smile cost nothing but yet have enormous value. Conversely, an unpleasant short grunt can be quite damaging.

It is good practice to advise the first point of contact within your company that you are expecting a candidate(s) for interview. I would go so far as issuing a very short note stating whom (by name) will be attending and at what time they are expected. Furthermore, I recommend that the greeter is instructed (politely) to offer the candidate a drink or at the very least, a seat whilst waiting.

Also, we all get delayed at some point but it really is professionally unacceptable to be late when the candidate arrives on-time for their interview. After all, it’s your meeting – presumably you set the time and date? If a delay is genuinely unavoidable then relay that information to the candidate via reception or whomever so that he or she can decide to wait or reschedule.


The Interview Process

On the basis that a detailed job specification has been sent or made available to the candidate in advance, I would expect that he or she would have conducted some research in to the company or perhaps even you as their prospective manager, boss and employer. Therefore, a good starting point would be to ask the candidate what they know about your company and why they would like to work for your organisation. Frankly, if he or she could not provide a good enough answer at that stage then it would be a very short interview indeed! (Note: a good way of avoiding this type of time wasting & potentially embarrassing situation, is to conduct brief prior telephone screening interviews to weed out candidates that really are unsuitable).

Even when the candidate has been put forward by an agency (that supposedly fully briefed the candidate in detail about the role and the company) I’ve known that initial question answered in the format of “I don’t know a great deal about the role or the company and that is why I’m here – to find out” (or words to that affect). Should you unfortunately experience a similar situation then I strongly suggest that you either stop using that particular agency or at the very least, have a very frank conversation with the specific recruiter.

Clearly I number of pre-prepared questions relevant to the particular role should be asked of the candidate. The candidate should also have a number of questions that he or she should ask to ascertain whether the role / company is right for them and their career progression. Notes should be taken by both parties as it is both rude and inefficient not too. Given the scenario where a number of candidates are being interviewed then it is totally inappropriate to rely on memory as conversations and interviews tend to merge and get confused over time.

There is a point of view that suggests that it isn’t necessary to like the people you recruit or indeed work with. Well, I’m afraid that I entirely disagree! A major part of our day and therefore our lives are spent at work. Given that we are humans with all of the attendant emotions, I think that very few of us could separate our feelings and remain totally objective with our colleagues in difficult situations.


Close Off the Interview Process

I fully realise and accept that everyone is busy and that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all of our tasks – time is precious. However, it is vitally important to the welfare of the candidate that a final decision as to their employment or otherwise is communicated professionally and as soon as possible after the interview. Bad news and disappointment are rarely taken well but in my experience being left in limbo is much, much worse!


A final thought……

“The greatest asset of any successful thriving business is their People and Recruitment is Key”


Future Articles

In the coming weeks and months there will be a series of interesting articles covering various Sales & Sales Management topics including (but not limited to):

  • Telesales – The Key Skills
  • Time Management – Work Smarter not Harder
  • Sales Leadership – Be the Benchmark for your Team
  • Client Evolution – Change to Retain Your Customers
  • Value not Price – Increase your Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Sales process – The Key Steps to Success
  • Managing Quota – Know Your Numbers and Make them Work
  • Employee Engagement – Reward & Retain you People


Len J Campey

Sales Director at Breakthrough
An experienced and highly motivated Senior Management professional with a consistent track record over 35 years of Direct & Channel Sales and Business Development throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. Active across many diverse industries & markets including the private and public sectors. Has proven success in the delivery of New Sector-New Business revenue & profit growth by recruiting, training, coaching & leading teams and individuals from departmental level through to senior management. Excellent client up-sell, cross-sell, retention and renewal skills.

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