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A guide to recruitment that doesn't focus on putting bums on seats!

If you're looking for some guidance on how to make sure you're recruiting in the right way, you're in the right place.  Our FREE ebook will help you design a recruitment process to get you on the way towards building an amazing team.

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Is it time to recruit well?

Everything you need to design and build a recruitment process that will help you consider, attract, select, and evaluate candidates.

 

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Good recruitment processes are essential to ensure that you are are getting the right people into the right roles. Here we bring together our advice on how to design and build a recruitment process that works for your organisation. We have used this process on around 50 roles, usually with the context of board-level appoints for owner-managed SMEs.  That being said, the principles and practices are transferrable to any organisation looking for a process-driven approach to recruitment.

In the spirit of honesty, this is a long article (45 minutes or so) as there is a lot of detail to discuss.  However, if you download the ebook, we will also send you a bonus abridged version containing the highlights of the process as well as our top tips.

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Consider - Understanding the culture, the role, and the desired behaviours
  3. Attract - Getting the right candidates interested
  4. Select - Finding the right candidates to interview
  5. Evaluate - Testing candidates against the required criteria
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Is it time to recruit well?

Everything you need to build a recruitment process that is bespoke to your organisation that delivers results and doesn't just put bums on seats.

 

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Introduction

 
Why use a recruitment process?


There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to designing recruitment processes. Every organisation will have their own bespoke requirements, values, culture, and resources that need to be considered.
But using a framework to guide your recruitment process design can help ensure you consider some key questions, including:

  • How do we define the role we need?

  • Who is the right person to fulfil the role?

  • How will we attract the right candidates? (note – often great candidates are already happily employed)

  • How can we test candidates against the role/person specification?

  • What methods can we use to select candidates to evaluate?

  • How do we evaluate candidates and who should be involved?

As you can see there is plenty to think about. Implementing a structured approach to managing the recruitment process can help organise these questions systematically- not only organising the process more effectively, but also making it repeatable and potentially scalable.

The aim of this document is to outline a process we have used successfully on over fifty senior executive roles. It is important to acknowledge that the process is constantly evolving. Each role that goes through the process is an opportunity for refinement and to build in learning and best practice.

We have calculated that a recruitment process of this kind takes between 70 and 100 hours. It is thorough and it does not cut corners, but there is massive pay back in the fit of candidate for the role, as well as the impact this has on your firm becoming an employer of choice.

 

A brief background

We never set out to do recruitment. In fact, we knew several talented recruiters who we would often refer work to when a client needed to fill a role. Our focus was on providing non-executive support to help our clients add value to their businesses.

In 2014, we were asked by a client if we would help them recruit a new commercial director. We had worked with the client for several years on a turnaround project, so we had a good understanding of their business. However, as this was a strategic appointment for the company, we suggested that they talk to some specialist recruitment consultants who specialised in their sector (engineering and construction).

As it turned out, fortunately the client insisted that they wanted Wellmeadow to be involved. We accepted the challenge on two conditions; that we got to design a process that would be rigorous with respect to defining and testing the criteria for the role, and that we could incorporate human contact and feedback in the process.

What we did not want to do was advertise a role and then hand over a pile of CVs to our client. We also did not want to treat candidates as just a statistic in a process.

The result was the first Wellmeadow recruitment process which we used to successfully appoint a great commercial director.

Over the years, the process has evolved, grown and adapted to changes in recruitment practices and technological advances. However, the core ethos remains: build robust testing bespoke to the role/organisation and treat candidates as people.

Having operated this process across multiple industries and roles, we want to share our process with you. We are not saying this is the only way to do recruitment, but it has served our clients well. Our best estimate is that circa 85% of candidates are still in post 12 months after appointment.

We have tried to be open about how we run our recruitment process. The key is to think through what you want to test for (behaviours, skills, knowledge), rigorously test for it, and be fair and transparent with how you do it. Having a framework to start from can be helpful but the real benefit comes from thinking deeply about your organisation’s culture, behaviours, and requirements. This allows you to build your own recruitment process that aligns with your own organisation’s goals.

If this process serves as a launchpad to help your organisation create a vision, build a team, and drive growth, our mission will have been a success.

 

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.

 

Starting with the end in mind

All too often, companies rush into recruitment because they are anxious about having a vacancy in their team. But this can often be a mistake.

Having a clearly defined approach to recruitment can be beneficial as it means that even in a crisis, there is a plan to follow. When there is more time to plan, a well-thought-through process can form the backbone of more creative and insightful recruitment exercise. Recruiters also need to be mindful of bias and discrimination with any appointment. Whilst a recruitment process will not eliminate these entirely, it can help to ensure a greater degree of transparency and accountability.

In our experience, we have found it helpful to break the recruitment process down into four distinct phases: Consider, Attract, Select and Evaluate. These four stages are unpacked in more detail throughout this document.

4 stage recruitment process table

 

There is no point in being overly dogmatic when it comes to designing a recruitment process. Every organisation and role will dictate a different set of criteria. In some instances, the field of candidates may be so small that running a full-scale selection process is frankly pointless. For some roles, the level or remuneration for the role is not going to warrant spending thousands of pounds of the board's time to run evaluation interviews.

 

That being said, there is still great value in designing and sticking to some form of process. Not only does it help you organise your thoughts and activities, but it helps make the process more accountable and transparent, reducing the risk of discrimination and bias.  Regardless of the size of the candidate field or the salary range of the role, you can still incorporate elements of the Consider, Attract, Select, Evaluate (CASE) model into your recruitment process.

Different roles will require a different amount of focus on each part of the model. This guide will hopefully provide you with some ideas of how you can structure your own recruitment process.

a 2 by 2 grid showing different recruitment approaches

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Is it time to recruit well?

Everything you need to build a recruitment process that is bespoke to your organisation that delivers results and doesn't just put bums on seats.

 

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a bold title slide with the word Consider

 
Considering Your Organisation’s Culture

A very basic definition of organisation culture could be summarised as “how we do things around here”. In recent years, organisational culture, which incorporates concepts such as purpose and values, has seen a resurgence within management and leadership thinking. Many business leaders could benefit from some deeper reflection on what their organisation’s purpose and values are, and how they influence the behaviour of people within the organisation. Tools such as the Collins Porras Vision Framework can be helpful to start a discussion on uncovering/rediscovering the organisational values and purpose that underpin the culture.

Using a culture mapping framework can help to guide the process of gaining a deeper understanding of "what really goes on around here". Peter Drucker once said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast", so if the role is in any way strategic, make sure the culture is understood.

Our experience of recruiting senior leaders has taught us that understanding an organisation’s culture is absolutely critical to defining the key behaviours that will guide the conduct of the person undertaking the role. If you don’t already have a clear picture of the values of your company, it’s worth taking some time to understand them before you make a strategic recruitment decision. Thinking about organisational culture encompasses quite a few different facets. There is no right or wrong way to go about discovering, identifying, or documenting your culture. However, it can be helpful to have a framework or template to work from to help get things started. In the following pages we have included our 'Culture Analysis Canvas' to help get you started. It's designed to be a high level overview so you may feel like you need to deep dive certain areas to get a better understanding of what's going on.

 

Using the Culture Analysis Canvas

The Culture Analysis Canvas is a tool that can be used to help you get a better understanding of your organisation's culture.

Vision asks the questions of where are we going and what's the goal that the organisation is seeking to achieve (10-20 year timeframe). The purpose of an organisation seeks to address why it exists. For example, Tesla's purpose is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. An organisation's values will be the guiding principles which set the standard for behaviour. For example, one of Disney's values is "a fanatical attention to consistency and detail".

Behaviours help to identify how members of the organisation act and ideally should embody the values. The types of behaviours may vary by role but there will be an underlying ethos that forms the foundations of how people act/interact towards each other. Behaviours can be influenced by the myths, stories, rituals, and rules (often unwritten). Is there a story that always gets told to new starters about a particular event? At Wellmeadow, we always tell new starters a story about how we helped a client set up an online store to win a deal that they were going to walk away from. The story helps to embody our values and behaviours.

Based on the behaviours, rules, and values, what outcomes do you observe? Are people engaged with their work? What does retention look like? Do people trust the leaders? Is there an impact on the top/bottom line? It can also be helpful to think about your blind spots/areas of focus. Asking staff or customers/suppliers can be a good way to get this information. It also shows a level of transparency and an acknowledgment of wanting to do better. Finally, what metrics have you got in place to ensure that you encourage a mindset of continuous development with respect to your organisation's culture?

The Wellmeadow Culture Canvas


Considering Your Team Dynamic

Our recruitment philosophy is that candidate selection is best done as part of a team. This is not because it is a way of diluting the responsibility of the person leading the recruitment. Rather, experience has shown us that when a broader cross-section of the board or senior team are involved in the recruitment process, the outcomes are better. Involvement creates a greater sense of ownership, people’s voices are heard, and bias can be reduced. The outcome is that the successful candidate then has the approval of the majority of the board/ senior team.

However, it stands to reason that if you are going to use your senior team as part of a recruitment process, understanding what drives their behaviours can be incredibly insightful.

Using psychometric profiling with your senior team can provide valuable insights into how the team dynamics work. This can be used to inform the criteria for selection and later in the evaluation of candidates. A good psychometric profile from a reputable organisation can give a better understanding of individual and team dynamics across areas such as:

  • Preferred communication styles

  • Preferred management styles

  • Decision-making frameworks

  • Strengths/Weaknesses

  • Key psychological drivers/motivators

 

The data from a psychometric profile can be helpful with the onboarding of successful candidates and their integration into the broader team. Using the same psychometric tool for candidates as is used for the senior management team helps to create a common experience and language for discussing issues. For example, on our team, we share our profiles with each other which helps us communicate more effectively and have an appreciation for how each other thinks, reacts, and works under pressure.

 

Providing a respectful experience that builds your employer branding

For many people, the processes involved in looking for a new role can be very disheartening, in no small part due to the lack of feedback from agencies and employers. Often, candidates receive absolutely no feedback following their applications to online roles. More surprisingly, candidates are left in the dark after interviews, even when those interviews are held face to face.

If you do not believe that candidates should be treated as commodities, go out of your way to make sure that does not happen in your process. It is also important from the perspective of employer branding that applicants who are not selected are treated in a respectful and thankful manner. You never know when your path will cross with an applicant for a role or through what medium they may review your company, therefore this needs to be handled with a long-term view in mind.

All candidates should be encouraged to be your brand ambassadors, even if they do not get the job. Everyone involved in the process should have a positive experience, regardless of the outcome.

Considering these factors as the initial stages of designing your recruitment process enables you to build them into the guiding principles and practices moving forward.

 

Providing feedback to candidates

It is also worth considering how you intend to provide feedback to candidates who have invested time and effort into your recruitment process. Our experience has repeatedly shown that providing feedback results in an overwhelmingly positive reaction, even from rejected candidates. Thinking through the mechanics of how this can be done efficiently is worth consideration at the recruitment process design stage.  At the initial online application step, send each candidate an email detailing the stages of your process letting them know what to expect.

At each stage of the screening, it is inevitable that candidates will be removed from the process. Try to be as respectful during this process as possible - provide feedback about their fit to the role measured against other candidates. The level of detail provided in the feedback typically increases as candidates progress through the process.

For example, if a candidate is not invited to an online face-to-face interview they could receive a personalised email explaining what has happened at that stage of the process and comparing their score with that of the highest-scoring candidate.

Candidates who have had online face-to-face interviews, but are not selected for the evaluation interviews, could be sent a personalised email providing feedback and an offer to have a conversation with them if they wish to gain further insights.

For candidates who attended the evaluation interviews but are not offered a position, it is best practice to always have a conversation on the phone to give as thorough feedback as possible. At this stage, candidates have invested a good deal of their time in the process and they deserve your time and attention.

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A bold title slide with the word Attract

The primary objectives at the “Attract” stage are to fully understand the criteria for the role and work out who the right person would be to perform in it. This is a vital step to allow the recruitment process to then be tailored and designed specifically to attract candidates who align with the role requirements.

In our experience, we have seen many managers or business owners hastily put together an advert for a vacancy with little thought given to what happens next. Whilst this is understandable given how busy most senior people are, it is often a false economy. Recruiting the wrong person can often cost 3-6 months of salary (in a senior role this could be £25k-£50k), lost opportunities, and then having to start the process again.

Whilst understanding the role criteria does not entirely remove the risk of a bad appointment, it can certainly help to minimise the chances of it happening.

 

Understanding the Role

As well as understanding the role and its requirements, consideration should also be given to the type of person who would be best suited to the role in terms of skills, knowledge and behaviours. As discussed previously, other factors will influence the role as well, including organisational culture and team dynamic.

Designing a standardised role diagnostic form (a form that details all the requirements for the position) helps clarify the requirements of the role and ensures that the scope of the role is well defined and documented. It goes beyond the typical focus of daily duties and ideal experience. The information that is gathered at this first stage is pivotal to the process going forward.

The form should cover areas such as the challenges that will be faced in the role, the projects that they are likely to take on as priority, and how the role interfaces with other areas of the business.

It should also include a clear picture of the desired behaviours and skills which, once established, can be weighted and ranked. This allows the recruiting team to question the importance of each identified behaviour/skill in an ideal candidate.

This exercise can inform the types of assessment and the weightings that can be assigned to scoring systems later in the process. There needs to be careful consideration given to how candidates will be sifted and selected to move through the various process steps. An example role diagnostic can be found on our resources page.


A person holding a tablet measuring the performance of a welding robot

 
Case Study - Exploring the impact of salesperson behaviour on performance

We worked with an MD to try and gain a deeper understanding of why previous sales managers had been under-performing. Typically, these sales managers had been hired on the basis of industry experience; however, the lack of performance had prompted a different approach.

We started with an evaluation of what he felt were the ideal behaviours for a person in that role. This was based upon his first-hand experience of doing the job for some time and seeing a marked improvement in sales performance. Once we had a list of approximately 15 ideal behaviours (e.g. curiosity, self-starting, proactive) these were ranked and weighted in order of importance. The MD then assessed himself against these behaviours acknowledging the inherent bias in this approach.

We then ranked all the previous sales managers against the same criteria, and it was immediately apparent that they were scoring significantly lower than the MD for the desired behaviours for the role. We then cross-referenced the behaviour scores with sales performance for each sales manager.

With this insight, it was agreed to change the approach to recruitment away from industry experience towards a more behaviour-driven model.


 

Have you ever hired someone who interviewed well, but didn’t live up to expectations?

 

What are you looking for?

You may have been in a situation where you have hired the “perfect candidate” but three-to-six months down the line, things just are not working out. There are some candidates that are very likeable and perform well during an interview but then underperform or do not work well with the rest of the team. One common reason for why this can happen is due to what interviewers look for during the recruitment process. If interviewers are unduly swayed by a big personality or likeability there is a risk that they miss out on properly evaluating a candidate’s character. Character, in this sense, is the inner attributes that guide a person’s behaviour. By evaluating what behaviours are required in the role and the organisation, and building them into the recruitment process, you can reduce the risk of making a bad hiring decision based on a charismatic interview.

 

Start organising the data

Once completed, the Role Diagnostic can be used to create a “Specification Checklist”, an example of which can be found on our resources page here. This documents everything that needs to be tested at each stage of the recruitment process. While it is not necessary to test for everything at every stage, the specification checklist is a useful tool for ensuring key behaviours and skills are verified and tested appropriately.

A good start for a specification checklist covers the following dimensions:

  • Basic information (location, notice period etc)
  • Circumstances (ability to travel etc)
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Skills and abilities
  • Behaviours

Using the specification checklist, you can identify which elements of the role diagnostic you will undertake at each stage of the process. At each point it can be useful to identify if you are looking to clarify, verify, or test a particular piece of information (e.g. salary expectations, a particular behaviour, etc).

  • Attract - Use the advert as a filter
  • Select - Use an online questionnaire
  • Select - Online face-to-face interview
  • Evaluate - Evaluation interviews (potentially including)
    • CV-based interview
    • Behavioural/Situational interview
    • Psychometric profile review
    • Case study/Technical interview (to suit the role)

 

What are the Key Documents?

Once an understanding of the core competencies, values, and behaviours required to undertake the role and to work within the company culture have been established, the process of documenting the details starts. Typically, the documents to be produced include the following:

  • Job description
  • Person specification
  • Job advertisement
  • Specification checklist (listing all criteria and at which stage of the assessment they will be tested)
  • An initial email to all candidates applying online explaining your process
  • A letter from the MD/CEO

a strand of DNA depicted with dots of light

Creating the Job Description

A significant amount has already been written on how to write a job description. In fact, a quick Google search of the phrase “how to write a job description” returns over 2 billion results! The key sections of the job description should cover the purpose of the role, the key responsibilities and accountabilities, and an outline any additional expectations.

Purpose of the role

The purpose of the role should align with overall business objectives. If it does not, consider whether the role has been scoped correctly or, in extreme cases, if it is even necessary. Most people like to feel that their work is contributing to something greater (i.e., the organisation’s vision or goals). If a role does not achieve this, it’s not only a potential waste of resource, but may well be demotivating for the person doing it.

Key responsibilities and accountabilities

Key responsibilities and accountabilities are the bread and butter of the job description. These describe what will be expected of the person undertaking the role. It can be worthwhile to consider how this role will interface with other roles in the organisation and include elements of this into the job description. For example, a marketing role will most likely have to interface with the sales team at some point and there may be a service level agreement in place to govern the handover of leads. Outlining this in the job description can be useful to clearly set expectations from the start.

Additional expectations

Additional expectations are a good place to put those catch-all elements of the roles for example travel expectations, attendance at head office, etc.

 

Creating the Person Specification

Whilst there is still an abundance of information online regarding the process of drafting a person specification, there is approximately 25 times less material than job descriptions (approx. 80m search results).   Without wanting to draw too many conclusions from this, it is often the case that the person specification often plays second chair to the job description.

However, having a well-thought-through person specification can be a critical component of any recruitment process. The criteria defined here will influence what type of skills, knowledge, and behaviours you test for throughout the process. Get this wrong, and you may end up with the wrong person in the right role.

Good areas to think about when drafting a person specification are the following:

  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Skills and Abilities
  • Behaviours
  • Circumstances

A role diagnostic can be incredibly useful with regard to drafting the person specification. If the time has been spent to fully understand the role, its place in the organisation, the team, and the organisation’s culture, then working out the right type of person for the job should be a lot simpler.

Additionally, if it is a role that has been done before, think about the types of people who have done it in the past or are presently in post (if you are expanding the team). What attributes did they bring to the role? What worked? What didn't work? These can provide useful data points for calibrating the person specification.

If the role is new to the organisation it can be slightly more difficult to build the person specification as there is no internal benchmark for comparison. In such instances, considering the team dynamic and organisational culture can be insightful. It may also be useful to try and benchmark the role against other people you know in similar roles working for customers, suppliers, or competitors.

As at every stage, the more data input into the person specification increases the chances of attracting the right person to the role.

 

"Focus on behaviours and character, not personality."

 

Letter from the MD

A less conventional yet powerful component of a recruitment process is to draft a letter from the MD/CEO which will be sent to all candidates. This can help to personalise the process and explain some of the background of the role. The letter should be authentic and honest, outlining challenges in the role and to the company, and highlighting what opportunities are available to the right candidate. The letter can also be used as an opportunity to highlight the organisation’s values (and implicitly the expectations of behaviours).

The objective of the letter is to help candidates understand what they are applying for and should filter out some candidates who just do not think the role is for them.

In our experience, this part of the recruitment process is received very well by the candidates, who appreciate a personal approach in a world of automated responses. At a recent set of evaluation interviews, candidates were particularly vocal about the “Letter from the MD”. It gave them an introduction and insight to the MD, and for some, the content of the letter was a strong motivator for wanting to work for the organisation.

 

Defining the Selection Criteria

There are two crucial questions to keep in your mind when defining selection criteria:

  1. What does "great" look like?
  2. How will we test for it?

What does great look like?

Before starting the recruitment process, it is worth defining what your organisation thinks that “great” looks like. This is going to be a multi-faceted answer covering areas mentioned in the job description and person specification. However, without taking the time to consider some benchmark criteria it can be difficult to measure candidate performance throughout the process.

For example, “great” could be that a candidate exhibits all the organisation’s values, it could be that they have deep connections within a given industry, or it could be that they have sold more than £1m of capital equipment per annum. Some definitions will be tangible (albeit may still be difficult to verify) whereas others will be more intangible.

The point is that having definitions for what “great” looks like for your organisation across each dimension of the role/person can offer a useful guide for evaluating candidates. It also provides a degree of transparency to all candidates regardless of whether they are successful or unsuccessful at each stage of the process.

How will we test for it?

Testing for how well a specific candidate is suited to the role is the point of any recruitment process. However, different stages of the process may test different attributes, and testing may become more granular and specific to the role as you move through the process.

How candidate testing takes place can evolve throughout the process and each role may need specifically designed tests to be useful.

At the attraction phase, the job description, person specification, letter from the MD, and job advert can act as a crude filter. This is not testing in the strictest sense of the word but it does involve a level of candidate self-evaluation as to their suitability for the role.

During the various selection stages a series of web-based questionnaires and online interviews can be used to progressively test the suitability of candidates. Careful consideration should be given to how these tests are designed. Referencing the tests back to the role diagnostic can help ensure that candidates are being tested in areas that align to the role requirements.

At the evaluation interview stage, it’s possible to design more specific tests with a greater degree of creativity. For example, in a recent set of evaluation interviews for a sales role, one of the key behaviours being tested was curiosity. It was deemed that this was a key attribute for this role given that salespeople often need to create opportunities by asking questions. One passive way of testing for this was that a garden spade was left very obviously on a sofa in the room where one of the interviews was taking place. The spade was an integral part of a new client project which the company was actively engaged in. The test was to see if candidates would mention the spade (which is obviously a bit out of place in an office setting!); only 50% of candidates did. This was not the only test designed to test curiosity, but it does demonstrate that by being a bit creative additional insight into candidate behaviour can be easily gained.

 

Designing a job advert

Like any other piece of copy, a job advert needs to be written with the target audience in mind. At the point of writing the advert the target audience should be clearly defined. A distinction should be made between the job advert and the job description. Often, an advert for a role will read more like the responsibilities and accountabilities section of a job description. Depending on the role, this may well be appropriate.

However, the job advert provides an opportunity to really sell the benefits of the company. It can be helpful to think of the advert as a piece of marketing material for the organisation (which of course it is!). Anyone who reads the advert should come away from it thinking that the organisation is an amazing place to work even if the role is not suited to them.

Placement of the advert should again be targeted to where you think the prospective candidates work or play. Job boards, social media, company websites are all obvious avenues for getting the advert in front of potential candidates.

The format of the advert may need to be tailored for the location of where it is being placed.

  • Social media adverts may need to be more forceful in their appearance given that it will competing for attention with other content for attention (one of the most highly-prized commodities on the internet).
  • Job boards may have restrictions on how the content is formatted and will often want to re-write your advert (which can be useful) for SEO purposes.
  • Having a space on your own website for advertising roles offers the opportunity to provide more information. Many companies have invested in more content on their website regarding employee benefits and company culture. This helps to improve employer branding and attract candidates.
Designing the Application Form

Once the role is advertised, there could potentially be hundreds of applications (although often there are fewer). Managing many applicants requires an organised approach to ensure that the process is conducted in an efficient manner.

One method of managing many applicants is to utilise an online questionnaire.

This can play a pivotal step in the process and has a dual role with respect to both filtering and testing candidates.

Firstly, this is a self-selecting step as our research has shown that typically around 40% of applicants will not complete the questionnaire. Consider this to be a good thing. If a candidate cannot devote their time to completing a short application form, it is a good indication that they are not truly interested in the role.

Secondly, it allows you to select candidates based on their weighted and scored answers. Doing so helps to make selection objectively based on fit to identified criteria and goes some way to removing bias in selection.

When designing an online questionnaire, reference should be made to the role diagnostic to ensure that you are capturing the right type of information. Additionally, this is the first instance in which you can start to test the candidates against the desired criteria for the role.


 

a quiz question asking for the price of a desk that costs £85 if the gross margin is 37%

 
Which online questionnaire tool should I use?

There are many options available for setting up online questionnaires. To find one that best suits your specific needs, using a review site such as Capterra can give an overview of the market.

In our own research of online questionnaire software, we have found that Typeform offers a best-in-class solution due the functionality and flexibility it provides.

With a multitude of options with respect to layouts and pre-made templates, Typeform can help get you started with an online questionnaire quickly and easily. The ability to use data that you’ve already captured in the form (e.g. First Name) allows you to personalise the rest of the questionnaire and provide a more conversational experience.

Typeform offers a range of response types for questions meaning that you can easily collect quantitative and qualitative data from your candidates. There are several options to customise each question in terms of style. With the additional ability to insert gifs and images, this all helps to keep the questionnaire engaging for the candidate.

Another great feature of Typeform is the number of integrations it has with other software. In a recent recruitment role, we used Videoask as part of our Typeform questionnaire. We asked candidates to sell us a product by recording a 30 second video. This gave us insights into how a candidate approaches sales at the very first stage of the recruitment process.

An intangible benefit of this approach is that candidates tend to provide very positive feedback following completion of the Typeform application forms. Therefore, not only does the application form help to select candidates to move forward, it also gives candidates a heightened recruitment experience.

 


 

It is best practice to design the online questionnaire before you release the job advert. This allows enough time to think about the questions, check to see if they are collecting the right information against the role specification, and run a few tests to check everything is working as intended.

Breaking up the questionnaire into discrete sections is advisable to help organise the information and provide a smoother experience for the candidates. It can also be beneficial to think through how you would like to analyse the results and design the questions accordingly.

The following process was used in designing a questionnaire for recruiting a Sales Manager.

The Basics

Details such as name, contact information, LinkedIn profile, experience, and educational background are all standard pieces of data that should be included in the questionnaire.

Consider collecting data on current salary/salary expectations, current commute (e.g. hours per week), and willingness to travel.

There are certain pieces of factual information that are straightforward to capture, such as notice period, location, driving licence status etc. Some of this information may discount someone from a process completely (e.g., not having a valid UK driving licence, being a disqualified director, or a lack of right to work). It makes sense to ask these questions as early in the process as possible to ensure that you are not wasting anyone’s time.

Initial Testing

At this early stage in the process, insights can be gained by including some questions designed to test the candidate’s knowledge and problem-solving capabilities. To make it easier to analyse and compare the results, consider using multiple choice questions.

Think about the number of test questions you want to include. There need to be enough that you can get a good spread of results but not so many that it overwhelms candidates and increases drop outs (although this is a good self-selection filter).

We used this example to test candidate’s problem solving skills:

Agnes, Pedro, Robert, Xavi, Santi and David are sitting in a row. Santi and David are in the centre. Agnes and Pedro are at the ends. Robert is sitting to the left of Agnes. Who is to the right of Pedro?

Given that we also wanted to test some basic commercial knowledge we used a question that was designed to test candidate’s knowledge of the difference between margin and mark-up – an important concept for people in a sales role.

The question was:

The cost to produce a desk is £85 per unit. The target gross margin is 37%. What is the selling price (to the nearest pound)?

A - £139, B-  £116, C -  £135,  D - £121

Values

Values and behaviours are not always easy criteria to evaluate but try to test for them at each stage of the process. For example, if an organisation has honesty as a core value, then design questions and tests to see how well candidates personally align to the value.

In the example above, we gave a situational question to which we were looking for a specific answer:

"Would you report a colleague who stole from the workplace even if you knew they were having financial difficulties?"

a bold title slide with a quote from Disney

 
Scoring

Before you publish the questionnaire consider how each question will be scored. Some questions will have a “Yes/No” answer whilst others might be free text or multiple choice. Whilst there is no right or wrong approach, the point is to be fair and consistent.

 

Closing thoughts on the Attract Phase

Spending the time to get a deeper understanding of the organisation’s culture and values, the role requirements, and the person specification will add significant value to the recruitment process. Given the time requirement in doing recruitment right (we estimate 70-100 hours), the cost of getting it wrong (3-6 months’ salary, opportunity costs), and the intangible disruption a poor hire can make to a team, having a process that is designed to attract the right candidates from the start offers significant value for money (however that is measured).

A structured process also de-risks the recruitment process as candidates are assessed via clear quantifiable methods against pre-agreed scoring criteria. This standardises the process, assisting in reducing discrimination and bias.

Now, having attracted the right candidates to the role, how should they be managed through the process to ensure that only the most suitable are selected for interview? This subject will be addressed in the next chapter.

 

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a bold title slide with the word Select

 

Selecting the best candidates to take to evaluation interviews

The primary objective of the “Selection” phase of any recruitment process is to narrow the field of candidates down to a manageable number to interview in more depth. If done correctly, the selection process should get progressively more detailed and challenging with regard to interactions between the candidate and the hiring team. In some cases where the field of candidates may be small (such as in a specialist technical role), this method of selection may not offer an acceptable return or value for money. In such instances, a more focussed head-hunting approach may yield better results.

Assuming that the field of candidates is sufficient, this chapter will outline the approach that Wellmeadow adopts when we are designing the selection phase of a recruitment process. Building on the work previously outlined in the “Attraction” phase, we are looking to get to two distinct milestones:

 

  1. A long-list of circa 10 candidates from the online questionnaire/CV review to invite to an online interview
  2. A short-list of circa 4 candidates from the online interview to invite to an evaluation interview

 

Getting to the Long-List

The purpose of the first part of the selection phase is to get to a list of circa 10 candidates to invite to an online video conference interview (typically held on Zoom or Teams).

Having a standardised process will be of benefit, particularly in situations where there are upwards of 50 candidates to evaluate.

The process outlined below offers a robust approach to managing a large pool of candidates.

 

First Contact with the Candidates/email candidates

The first outbound communication with candidates will be an email explaining the structure of the recruitment process and what they can expect at each stage, the MD’s letter (explained above), and a link to the online questionnaire. The email should specify an intended date for the evaluation interviews so that candidates can pencil it into their diaries as soon as possible.

It would also be best practice to outline timelines for responding to candidates and how rejected candidates will be treated. This helps to build in expectation management at an early stage and to humanise the process.

 

Evaluating Questionnaire Results

The online questionnaire should be designed so that the output is meaningful while allowing a ranking of candidates according to the answers they provide. If the questions being asked have been clearly thought through, there should be a reasonable spread of results.

 

Often the results of the online questionnaire will offer interesting insights. For example, in our work on the Sales Manager role we asked the question to determine if candidates understood the difference between margin and mark-up. Surprisingly, only 50% of candidates answered correctly.

 

The software used to create and distribute the application form should always allow the data to be exported into a spreadsheet. Questionnaire results can be weighted to allow for an emphasis to be placed on certain criteria such as values, knowledge, experience, etc. It can be useful to document the reasons for any weightings in order to refer to them if necessary.

Criteria should be established for each question to help score each candidate. In conjunction with the question weighting (if applied), a total score can be calculated for each candidate and subsequently ranked.

 

Review CVs of the Top “X” Applicants

The approach to this step in the process can vary. If there are only ten candidates who have applied, then it makes sense to look at all the CVs.

On the other hand, if there are over one hundred candidates to review, a different approach is required. Using the results of the questionnaire ranking, the CVs of just the top candidates can be reviewed. Depending on how many candidates applied and the spread of the scores, this might involve 10 or 20 candidate CVs. To validate this approach, review a selection of CVs from the middle and bottom of the range, as this will calibrate the results. Adopt a common-sense approach to the calibration and, if necessary, review the scoring and weighting criteria.

Whilst you are trying to take an objective and quantifiable approach to selection, it must be recognised that you are dealing with individuals from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. The CV review ensures that you are on the right track with your selection questions and helps to validate areas such as experience and education.

 

Agreeing the Long-list (10+ candidates)

The number of candidates who have applied for the role will have some bearing on the number taken forward to the long-list stage. Typically, taking 10 candidates through provides enough of a field to generate a short-list (typically 4 candidates) and allows for dropouts from the process.

Keep evaluating the CVs and questionnaire scores until everyone involved in the Long-list decision-making process is satisfied that the candidates going to the next stage are the right ones.

 

Rejecting Candidates

It is not part of human nature to enjoy rejection. With growing pressures on mental health and well-being of people within the workplace (or out of it as the case may be), care should be taken to provide feedback in a positive way.

Most roles that candidates will apply for will not offer feedback. However, providing useful feedback generates an overwhelmingly positive response, serving to “humanise” the recruitment process. If there are a lot of candidates to respond to, consider using automated feedback that is personalised to each recipient based on the scores from the online questionnaire.

We have done this for numerous roles by demonstrating to candidates areas where they fell short compared to the top scores. This can be done using some basic Excel techniques and a mail merge, if those skills are available in your organisation.


 

Getting to the Short-List

The purpose of this part of the selection phase is to get circa four candidates to invite to an evaluation interview.

Having narrowed down the initial field of candidates, the remaining ten or so will be invited to an online video conferencing interview. This will typically be held via Zoom or Teams.

 

Designing online face-to-face interviews

Before holding the interviews, take some time to review the questions you are going to ask the candidates. Where possible, these questions should be standardised to allow a fair comparison.

Additionally, think through the purpose of each question. Some questions may be required to clarify or verify information that has previously been provided by the candidate in either a CV or the online questionnaire. Other questions may be asked to test the candidate's knowledge in a deeper way. As this is the first time you will get to meet the candidate face-to-face (even if this is digitally), it is a great opportunity to start testing for desired behaviours. Asking some behavioural questions allows you to start assessing reactions and responses. Referring to the role diagnostic and specification checklist can be helpful at this stage.

Ask questions such as “can you give me an example of when you had to take responsibility for a mistake?” Does the candidate have a good answer? Does it involve others or themselves? How quickly do they respond? Did they learn from the experience, if so what?

Finally, consider how each question will be scored ahead of time.

 

a man wearing shirt and tie presenting on his laptop from his sofa wearing denim shorts

 

Holding online face-to-face interviews

A typical online face-to-face interview should take approximately 30-40 minutes to give enough time to check all the information required and begin to expand on new areas that test the candidate’s suitability to the role.

A pre-prepared scoring matrix can be useful to help manage the recording of scores whilst maintaining conversation. If the software you are using allows it, record the call so that it can be referred to later. Inform the candidate of this well ahead of the interview to ensure all appropriate permissions are in place.

When holding the online interview, other factors can be evaluated such as general rapport-building skills. It can also be interesting to see the environment in which candidates undertake the interview as it gives some degree of insight into their personal life (a Star Wars bobble head figure can make for an interesting conversation point!). Additionally, has the candidate dressed appropriately for the interview or company culture?

In a recent recruitment role we undertook, we did a reverse online face-to-face interview. In essence, we asked each candidate to interview us. This was partially due to the nature of the role as it had a journalistic component, but it also revealed some interesting insights into the priorities of the candidates (e.g. opportunities for personal growth vs. when do I get paid?). It offered a more natural approach to starting to discover a candidate’s character and gave an indication of the types of behaviour we could expect.

All these details can help create a more holistic overview of the candidate, aiding in the overall selection process.

 

Analyse the results

Depending on the technology used, it may be possible to get a transcript of the online interview. For example, Zoom will integrate with an online transcription service called Otter.ai which can automatically convert a video call into a transcript.

This can be useful for checking for keywords or phrases that can sometimes be missed when a conversation is in mid-flow.

In some recent research. we explored using AI to evaluate candidate responses using AWS Comprehend. This service offers a natural language processing (NLP) service which uses machine learning to find insights and relationships in text. The results were not conclusive, and the approach is not ready to be adopted as part of a standard recruitment process. The point is that with today’s technology it is possible to get additional insights into a selection process if applied correctly. As technology evolves, it presents opportunities (if used correctly) to help aid recruitment-driven decision-making.

 

Review and challenge results to agree the Short-list

Technology is an important part of the recruitment process, but human intuition and experience still play pivotal roles.

By having the online face-to-face interviews recorded, it allows other members of the recruiting team the ability to see and hear candidates in an interview setting.

It can also be helpful to constructively challenge the scores given to each candidate by the interviewer as part of this exercise. This helps to reduce bias, and allows other perspectives to be heard before a final decision is made.

The objective then is to invite the top four candidates to the evaluation interviews. It can be useful to also decide on the next two candidates who would be invited. This means that if one of the top four cannot make it (or drops out which is reasonably common), replacement candidates have already been agreed without having to reassemble the team.

 

a bold title slide saying 'Hire Character, Train Skill'

 

Rejecting candidates who have attended online interviews

Having already met and built a level of rapport with these candidates, the level of feedback offered is usually somewhat more detailed. Whilst the initial communication may be by email, candidates rejected at this stage are offered additional feedback via phone should they wish to receive it.

In our experience, 20%-40% of rejected candidates take up this offer and, as such, is not a significant drain on resources or time. But offering this helps position the organisation as people-focussed, increasing positive employer branding and reputation.

 

Final thoughts on the “Select” phase of the process

The goal is to design a fair and consistent, yet robust method to finding a suitable set of candidates to take to evaluation interviews. Selection interviews should incorporate elements from the job description and person specification.

When the numbers of candidates increase for a given role, consider leveraging technology to help organise the selection process. This is not only more efficient but can help eliminate bias.

Regardless of technology used, the critical element of this part of the recruitment process is to have carefully thought through what is being tested well before the selection happens. This allows time to design questions that get to the heart of the requirements for the role, developing a much better chance of selecting the best candidate.

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a bold title slide saying Evaluate

 

An introduction to evaluation interviews

Having arrived at the point where the four best candidates have made it through the selection process, the final evaluation stage begins.  Building on all of the previous stages, the evaluation interviews are an opportunity for a broader team (e.g. senior leadership team, board of directors, etc.) to meet the candidates and vice-versa.

The purpose of the evaluation stage is to put each candidate through a series of different interviews with the end goal being to appoint the right person to the role. An important point to note is that if the right candidate does not emerge, re-run the process. Whilst this may cause some short-term pain, the consequences of appointing the wrong person to the role can be far greater.

A two way process

Interviewing should be a two-way process. Consider a typical interview; even if it involves more than one stage, it is not unusual for each stage to be in one room, with one or two people, lasting around one hour. From the candidate’s perspective, how much are they learning about the organisation? Assuming they accept an offer, the likelihood is they have not seen where they will be spending most of their working day or met more than one person from their new team.

Conducting an evaluation interview involves spending at least half a day on site and can provide many valuable insights to the candidate: a tour of the office/factory, access to several members of the senior or hiring team, introduction to other members of the team, and some exposure to the company culture. This way, candidates leave the evaluation interview with a much clearer picture of the organisation and the role than offered by a more conventional interview.

From an employer’s perspective, the evaluation interview offers the final opportunity to test the candidates against the criteria established in the role diagnostic and specification checklist.

Involve all key stakeholders

A thorough evaluation of the desired criteria is put into the hands of the team undertaking the interviews. As key stakeholders are all involved (e.g. HR team, board of directors, direct reports), there is consensus in the recruitment. The successful candidate should, therefore, already have a significant portion of the team on board with their appointment before they join. This is important, and may well play a part in the high retention rate of new recruits that join organisations through this process (circa 85% of candidates are still in the role after 12 months).

 

It’s not an Assessment Centre!

Mention the phrase “assessment centre” and it conjures up the image that people will be indiscriminately invited into a room, congregated around a table, and then invited to a “who can shout the loudest session”. This may have its place in certain contexts; however, when dealing with people at more senior or board level, the aim is to treat everyone with a high level of respect. Do not have group interviews and do not expect candidates to fight for attention.

This is not to say that assessment centres do not have a place in some recruitment processes. If you are running a more selection-driven process, it may make sense to run group exercises. This is particularly true if you have a large field and the role does not justify a large amount of time and effort evaluating candidates in detail.

 

"If the right candidate does not emerge, re-run the process."

 

 

Designing Evaluation Interviews

Evaluation interviews are the final stage before a hiring decision is made. As such, ensuring that all the criteria that has been identified in the job description and person specification are tested for is vital.

Where it is practically possible, have two people from the hiring team in each interview. This allows for a good cross-section of people from the organisation to meet each candidate and vice-versa, as well as helping to reduce the possibility of bias.

Consider breaking down the evaluation interviews into four distinct sections (each lasting approximately 45 minutes):

  • CV-based interview
  • Behavioural/Situational interview
  • Psychometric profile review
  • Case study/Technical interview (to suit the role)

Other tests may be appropriate, determined by the specifics of the role.

When previously recruiting for a Finance Director role, we suggested using a numeracy and literacy test. After some initial push back from the board (who initially felt it was beneath the role), it was agreed that we could use it. There was significant variance in the results (Numeracy 60%-100%, Literacy 44%-70%), highlighting that it was unsafe to assume that all senior people possess these skills.

When designing evaluation interviews there is scope to get creative, particularly with case studies (explained below). Think through the behaviours required by the person/role and how these could be tested against the criteria on the specification checklist.

For example, in a recent recruitment process our client identified that they needed to test for coachability. To help test for this we asked candidates to sell us the company’s product in a 30 second video as part of the online questionnaire.   In the evaluation interview, we played back the video to the candidate and they were given instruction on how the MD would approach a sale. They were then asked to sell the product using the new approach and given 10 minutes to plan their own demonstration. The evaluation consisted of how well they could incorporate the advice from the MD. The exercise also highlights other behaviours such as if they ask questions to clarify a point, if they take notes, etc.

Whilst designing the interviews, think about how candidates will be evaluated. A scoring matrix can be a useful tool for helping interviewers to look for the right things. Ideally, a scoring matrix will be tailored to the type of evaluation and linked to the criteria in the specification checklist.

With the best of intentions, engagement with scoring on the day can vary between interviewers. Some interviewers are meticulous in their scoring, others take a more gut-feel approach. Equipping and educating the hiring team to be true to the scoring matrix can be challenging, but having a framework in place significantly helps the decision-making process.

 

Organising the evaluation interviews

Organisation of evaluation interviews has two important steps:

  • Keeping candidates informed of the process and setting their expectations 
  • Preparing for the day with the hiring team

All candidates should have been made aware of the date of the evaluation interviews during the initial email communication. Clear communication of the date of the evaluation interviews will help maximise attendance.

When the short-list of candidates is selected, speak to those candidates to confirm their attendance and give them the details of what to expect on the day. It is also sensible to follow up with an email that provides details of location, interviews, and stages. If an interview involves a presentation that requires preparation, provide a brief. Likewise, if an online psychometric evaluation is being used, send the links out in good time to allow candidates to complete the process.

Don’t forget about the practicalities

Think about practicalities too - ensure that rooms are booked, and IT equipment is available and working, and arranged well in advance of the interview sessions.

Make sure interviewers have the dates in their diaries and are clear about their roles. Additionally, inform other appropriate members of the organisation about the interviews and ask them to be welcoming to candidates. Provide all the interviewers with packs of information on the role and the candidates.

They typically include:

  • Job description
  • Person specification
  • Advert
  • Candidate summaries (including scoring from each stage)
  • CVs
  • Online face-to-face interview notes
  • Psychometric profiles
  • Scoring sheets

Managing drop outs

We have noted over the past few years that it is increasingly common for candidates to drop out of the evaluation interviews the night before or even on the day itself.

To manage potential on-the-day drop-outs, try to keep in regular contact with your candidates and be sure that expectations are set and agreed. In our experience, the inclusion of a presentation can be a contributing factor to candidate drop-out. This does not mean that you shouldn’t have a presentation in the process; just make sure that it’s appropriate to the role that you’re recruiting for and that all of your candidates are comfortable with delivering. If you can establish early on that a candidate is not serious about the role, they may drop out earlier and allow for another applicant to take their place.

We were helping a client recruit for a Finance Director and had four great candidates for evaluation interviews. On the day of the interviews, we had two candidates drop out due to work commitments. They had both been asked to prepare a presentation ahead of the interview so they were asked to send it in so we could review it in their absence. If the presentation was ready, this should have been a 2-minute job. On the other hand, if the task had not been completed, we’d be in a better position to judge why the candidate didn’t want to attend the interviews. In this instance, we only received one presentation and were able to reschedule the interview.

 

Running the evaluation interviews

It is best practice to run a briefing ahead of the candidates arriving to make sure everyone involved in the interviews is aware of their roles. Be sure that the candidates are greeted appropriately, and that they are also met at the end of the process to thank them for their time and confirm next steps. A timetable will have been set for the evaluation interviews, but the challenge is ensuring that the interviewers stick to the timings. It is good to have at least one person as a dedicated timekeeper to ensure that interviews do not run over time.

What you absolutely should do is: 

  • Greet everyone individually.
  • Set clear expectations before the day.
  • Prepare for the day in detail with the hiring team.
  • Arrange a series of individual meetings with various members of the senior/hiring team.
  • Thank everyone for their time and attendance.

 

Conducting a CV-based interview

This type of interview involves asking the candidate questions based on their CV. These questions will seek to validate and clarify any relevant experience and educational background. Clarification of any gaps in the CV history should be asked for and noted. It’s also wise to get an understanding of any claims made by the candidate on their CV. For example, a candidate may claim to have grown their previous company’s revenue by £1m. In such instances, attempt to get all the facts; who else was involved, what role did the candidate play, how did it come about, was it repeatable, etc.?

Make sure that answers given for the reason they are leaving their current/previous employer make sense. It is also a good opportunity to confirm salary and compensation plan expectations.

As well as focussing on the educational and experience aspects, try to also include questions that reveal a bit more of the candidate’s personality. For example, give them one minute to explain to you something about which they are passionate. Asking questions like “What was your childhood hobby?” also helps to draw out interesting responses and starts the rapport-building process.

 

Ask questions like "What was your childhood hobby?"

 

 

Conducting Behavioural/Situational interviews

A behavioural or situational interview involves asking candidates to give you an example of how they would respond to a given set of circumstances. Often, the interviewer will be asking for examples of when the candidate has experienced this situation, but these can be hypothetical.

Before starting the interview, explain to the candidate that you’ll be taking notes. This helps to stop any awkward silences after they have finished responding to a question and you are still taking writing. If there are two people interviewing, consider asking questions alternatively to allow at least one interviewer to make more comprehensive notes but enable the interview to flow more conversationally. Building some initial rapport with the candidate is really important to help them relax.

The design of a behavioural interview should test for behaviours that have been identified as critical to being successful in the role.

For example, if you wanted to test for trustworthiness you might ask “when was the last time you had to “shade the truth” to get a prospect interested in your service? What were the circumstances and what did you do?"

Another example could relate to how the candidate handles responsibility. The interviewer might ask “describe a time your company did not deliver on its product or service and how you responded?”.

Be aware that candidates may be looking to give an answer that they think the interviewers want to hear. Therefore, it is critical to ask exploratory questions to the responses given by candidates.

 

Conducting a Psychometric Interview

Psychometric profiles can be extremely useful in the evaluation of values, behaviours, and motivators. Never discount anyone from a process based on the results of their psychometric profiling.

If the senior team have already undertaken a similar psychometric test, there should be some interesting data points to compare with candidates’ profiles. It should be noted that there is no right or wrong regarding an individual’s psychometric profile.

Always start a psychometric interview by asking if the candidate agrees with the results of the profile. In our experience of over 200 psychometric interviews, less than 1% of all candidates have seriously disagreed with their profile results.

Subject to the candidate agreeing that their profile is a fair reflection of their behaviours, strengths, weaknesses, etc, it’s possible to open up interesting conversations, covering topics and issues that you just wouldn’t instigate from the usual CV-based interview.

Some psychometric testing suppliers provide a list of potential interview questions that spark some insightful exchanges. However, to maintain the discipline of using the specification checklist, pull out relevant sections of the profile that relate to the specified criteria and base the questions around these.

For example, if empathy is an important criterion, you might ask “is it true, as your profile suggests, that you need to remind yourself to consider other people’s feelings and ideas?”.

Psychometric analysis can often highlight other areas such as communication preferences and decision-making styles. These can be helpful in getting a better understanding of how a candidate may function within an existing team dynamic and should be explored in an interview setting.

 

Conducting a Case Study or Technical Assessment

This is likely to be the most bespoke part of any evaluation interview, and the role and candidate experience will define how it’s approached.

It is critical to ensure that the right behaviours, knowledge, and skills are being tested. For example, if recruiting for a Finance Director, make sure that they can not only interpret the Balance Sheet, P&L, and Cashflow Statement but also communicate it to the board in a way that a non-accountant can understand. It is important not to assume that just because the candidate is applying for a senior role that they have the skills and ability to perform in the role. Testing the basics can often reveal interesting insights.

Creative thinking at this stage of the process can really help to assess for desired behaviours that you would like to observe in person. To unpack this, take the example of recruiting sales managers for a technical company.

Two of the most important criteria that were identified for the role were curiosity and coachability. The company had recently adopted HubSpot as a CRM and were keen to adopt the insights from Mark Roberge’s book “The Sales Acceleration Formula”.   There was much discussion on how best to test curiosity and coachability in an interview setting. We held a brainstorming session with the recruiting team to work out how to test for these behaviours, and how they could be evaluated and scored.

The success of this interview was the preparation beforehand to establish the criteria against which candidates would be measured. To have a fair comparison between candidates, we needed to help the interviewers identify the key behaviours we were looking for.   To do this, we sat with the MD to document everything he would do as part of the sales process. This involved everything from the initial research of a prospect such as a Companies House search and website review, checking understanding of requirements (BANT qualification), use of metaphors to describe the product, product demonstration, quote, and follow up.

During the interview, the MD explained the process to the candidates and gave them a demonstration of the product. They were then given a laptop and 15 minutes to put what they had learned into practice. The goal was not to perform a perfect demonstration but to see how coachable they were. The exercise also included elements to test candidates’ curiosity in terms of the amount and quality of questions asked.

 

Reviewing the results

When the evaluation interviews are completed there will be a review and analysis of each candidate. Bring the interviewing team together to reflect on the candidates' performances, as this allows all parties to contribute to the hiring decision. Not only does this help to instil confidence in the management team that they’ve made the right decision, it also gives the appointed candidate peace of mind that their appointment was the result of a unanimous decision.

  • Review the results and discuss with the team.
  • Compare the scoring matrix results.
  • Think about culture fit as well as candidates' skills/experience.

If the team is unable to reach a unanimous decision, it is important to note that you do not actually have to appoint a candidate. You are looking to build an amazing team; that means getting the right person in the right job, not just the proverbial bum on seat. You have the process in place now to run again if that is what it takes to find the correct fit.

However, if you do agree on a hire, seek to agree the details of the offer without delay and communicate them to your chosen candidate. Your onboarding process begins now.

 

Making an offer

Once the decision has been made to make an offer to a candidate, do so as soon as possible. Going back to a candidate quickly with a positive outcome has two particularly beneficial outcomes:

  • It gives flattering reassurance to the candidate that you are keen to have them on board.
  • It reduces the chances of your desired candidate starting or continuing in other recruitment processes.

Before you do make the offer, be absolutely clear what is being offered including salary, benefits, location and working arrangements, and set this out in a clear and conditional offer letter/email. The conditions of the offer will be dependent on the role (particularly with regards to proof of qualification) but should certainly include proof of right to work and satisfactory references.

While you are not obliged to provide a written statement of employment particulars until day one of the candidate’s employment, it is advisable to send out the employment contract as soon as possible, with the offer letter if you can. Providing a contract early on demonstrates professionalism and commitment from the company; signing and returning the contracts demonstrates the same from the candidate.

Be prepared for counter-offers from the candidate’s current employer and offer counter-offer coaching when this happens. To dissuade your candidate from taking the counter-offer, remind them of / educate them on the following:

  • 80% of people who accept a counter-offer still leave their employer after six months.
  • Consider why your current employer wasn’t already giving you the package that they are now offering to keep you, the package that you deserve.
  • Your employer is very likely to now question your loyalty to the company.
  • Your employer is very likely to have much higher expectations of you to justify the increased package.
  • Consider if the new arrangements with your current employer will actually deal with the issues that caused you to look elsewhere, or is it just more money?

"80% of people who accept a counter-offer still leave their employer after six months."

 

Rejecting unsuccessful candidates

Candidates who have made it through to the evaluation interviews have invested a significant amount of time in your process. By this stage, they are also likely to be reasonably emotionally invested, and in most cases a candidate’s hopes are at their highest. Disappointing candidates, especially at this stage, is never a pleasant job but it is a necessary one.

You should speak to each candidate and provide them with as much personal feedback as they find satisfactory. Never be critical of their performance but let them know what the gaps were between them and the candidate who got the offer. You can offer advice on what you would have liked to have seen from them on the day so that they might improve their performance in future interviews. Be sure to also highlight areas in which they did shine.

Consider asking for permission to keep in touch with candidates who you think might be suitable for future roles in the company and connect with them on social media.

Always be respectful and thank people for their time and commitment. It will improve their candidate experience and that can only have a beneficial result for your business’s reputation and employer brand. 

 

Final thoughts on the “Evaluate” phase of the process

It can seem like a daunting task to design and implement a recruitment process that goes into the level of detail outlined here. As previously mentioned, it is not necessary to do this for every role that you need to recruit for. However, in instances where the person in the role will have significant influence over the direction or impact of the organisation, taking the time to invest in a more detailed and defined recruitment process can be highly beneficial.

Whilst the framework for evaluation interviews outlined above can be used for any role, the content will be different. It is important to apply a level of creativity to how you approach designing the questions and test you put to candidates. When candidates can see that you have invested time in designing the interviews, they often hold the process (and by extension the organisation) in much higher regard.

However you decide to approach your recruitment requirements, treat people well, design fair and accountable processes, and have fun with it! We hope that this guide has helped prompt some thoughts about how you can stop putting bums on seats when it comes to recruitment. Instead, Consider, Attract, Select, and Evaluate great candidates who can help you achieve your vision, build your team, and drive growth.

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