It’s a funny old time out there on the job market, there are mixed reports about unemployment decreasing as some businesses start their pandemic recovery, there are fears more jobs will be lost in certain sectors with further extended restrictions and there is the Brexit effect and furloughers returning to day jobs where certain sectors are experiencing massive shortages in the availability of people and skills.

For today’s blog, I thought it would be useful to set out my recommendations for a consistent and fair recruitment process to help employers assess applicants for the role they have applied for and get the right hire in place.

The key to any recruitment process is the job description and person specification.

As an employer you need to know the skills you need in your business and have an idea of the tasks you want the new recruit to do.  Whilst the job description will help in the recruitment process it is the person specification that should be the foundation of the selection process and the questions asked (and scored) at the interview.  This would include things that are essential for the role, and therefore non-negotiable and things that are desirable or advantageous, so nice to haves in the role.



My Top Tips For Getting The Recruitment Process Right

Recruitment is time consuming and can be an expensive and lengthy process.  Here are my top tips for carrying out a great recruitment process to get it right first time:

  • Evaluate what is needed within the business and create a job description with a person specification, and don’t be afraid to review and amend as needed, this is a valuable exercise which will set the tone for the rest of the process.
  • Benchmark the role and the salary before recruiting to make sure you are offering a competitive/comparable market rate for the role, it can be beneficial to set a salary range for the role so you have some flex because you might not find a candidate that has everything you are looking for and may like to develop them into the role.
  • It isn’t always possible in small and micro businesses, but where possible white label certain applicant details (if provided) before scoring to a long list and shortlist to help you make a fair selection based on skills and experience alone.
  • Set out a scoring grid to take applicants from CV/Application Form to long list and then shortlist and use the person specification to give score ranges for specific answers e.g. If it is essential someone has a specific qualification then you might score some who doesn’t have it with 0, someone who is working towards the qualification with 1, someone with the qualification as 2, and someone who has the qualification and has taken it a step further or teaches and mentors others in that qualification might score a 3. Apply this principle to each of the key skills, knowledge or experiences required.
  • Interview the top 5 scorers (maybe keep the people that scored 6 and 7 in reserve).
  • I know it is hard when you get lots of applicants, but try where you can (even if it is a one line email) to let people know that their application won’t be going further. Job hunting can be a gruelling process made much harder by no responses at all.  Applicants will really appreciate you taking the time to do this.
  • Prepare interview questions in advance (again using the person specification as a base) so all candidates are given the same questions and opportunities to respond (perhaps leave some time for a couple of candidate/CV specific questions to personalise the process).
  • Don’t interview alone, it’s always best to interview in pairs as a minimum.
  • Only ask applicants questions that are actually relevant to the role. It can be tempting to throw in a curveball question but if you do, really ask yourself what you think it might achieve and how relevant it is to the role.  And of course, nothing discriminatory or controversial, or designed to humiliate or denigrate the applicant.  You only need to watch a few clips from Ricky Gervais’ The Office to see cringe worthy recruitment in action!
  • Score the answers given and listen for how they structure their answer to consider whether they have given you a great answer. In my next blog I outline the STAR model as a successful approach to answering competency-based questions for applicants, and if an applicant has followed this approach fully they will have given you a good answer in terms of structure, even if the actual example might not have been the best choice.  So worth a read here so you know what to look out for.
  • Score separately to your fellow interviewer and confer afterwards on all candidates.
  • Keep notes – to help you give feedback afterwards. Remember that applicants could ask to see your interview notes if they submitted a Data Subject Access Request and they would have a right to see them, so think carefully about what you write on their CV/Application form/interview question template.
  • This is a two-way process – ask the candidate if they have any questions for you or if there is any information they would still like.
  • Decide on who to offer to, but if you have followed these tips and my advice it will most likely be one of the top 2 candidates.


No Discrimination!

Most importantly of all – Don’t ask candidates questions about their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (aka the ‘Protected Characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010).


In practice that means you shouldn’t ask:

  • Someone’s age
  • Their race, place of birth or their ethnicity, or their religion
  • Their plans for the future with regards to retirement planning or family planning
  • How they manage their childcare and caring responsibilities
  • Whether they have a disability and/or the number of sickness absence days taken in the last year or six months
  • Their gender or sexual orientation and whether they are married or not, or cohabiting.

Let me know how you get on, or if you would like any help on getting your recruitment process right or putting great HR in to practice to help you grow and develop your business, get in touch  Alternatively you can download my free Self-audit HR Checklist here.

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