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Keep it Real Part 4: So Who Do I Marry?

By Mark Deavall

In the last article, we discussed how to get the best out of your staff. In that article, we came to a few conclusions, namely: 1) If you employ a problem person, you have very little chance of changing that person, 2) If you get your recruiting criteria right, you will have a lot fewer management headaches, and 3) while not discarding the importance of skills, you should be recruiting for attitude.

So how do we recruit properly? Well, like most things it starts with the simple stuff. So let’s give you a process.

1) Make sure that when you are looking to employ someone that you know exactly what you want them to do – not in terms of the activity but rather in terms of the results. If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it.

2) Clearly define the type of person that you are looking for in terms of qualifications, experience, abilities and qualities. These four are equally important when assessing someone for a position

3) Understand the “behavioural profile” of your department, and make sure that the person that you are looking for fits the same profile. If you don’t do this you could bring in someone that is completely disruptive to your department.

4) Make sure that when you advertise the position, you clearly state the desired results that are expected to be achieved. This is in addition to clearly stating whatever qualifications, experience, abilities and qualities that you would prefer the candidate to have.

5) When going through CV’s, discard any and all candidates that don’t conform to what you are looking for. Even if none of the CV’s are OK, don’t be pressured into placing someone. It will only cost you a lot of money and heartache. Hold out for the right one. That person is out there. You just have to find them!

6) Have an interview room ready as far from your reception area as possible. Then fetch the candidate, and on the way to the interview room, introduce them to as many people in your building as possible. Then after the interview go and speak to those people and ask them what their impression of the candidate is. You need to know what first impression this candidate is going to make on your customers.

7) During the interview, clarify any unclear areas of the CV.

8) Ask the candidate questions that probe how they perceive things. For example ask them what it is in particular that they enjoy about working for their current employer, and what they don’t enjoy. What they enjoy about working for their current boss and what they don’t enjoy etc. The reason I ask these types of questions? Firstly, I am going to think twice about employing a person that has a long list of the things they don’t like, and a very short list of the things they do like. Secondly, I may just have those same circumstances prevailing in my own company. So if those things that the person does not like at their current or previous employer are things that exist in my own company, what are the chances of this person being a productive and successful staff member?

9) You want to employ people that see their job as a means to an end and not the end in itself. So question them as to what their goals are and how they intend achieving them. Look for a sense of realism in the goals and the plan for achieving them. Don’t contextualize their goals into your own realm of possibility, but rather look to see that the candidate’s achievement plan has been well thought through.

10) Probe for a non-job passion that the person has. Passion is passion, and when someone is passionate about something outside of their work, that passion spills over into the workplace. It has to. Most times the work finances the passion.

11) Take references from previous employers. Don’t phone up and ask them what the candidate was like! Rather ask pointed questions that start with confirming the period of employment. Then move on to confirming that the candidate reported to person whose name was given on the CV. Ask about punctuality and the ability to get the job done properly and on time. Also ask about the candidate’s ability to get on with people and work productively with them. The clincher is to ask whether the previous employer would re-employ the candidate if given the opportunity.

12) Always do more than one interview, but have the candidate interviewed by different people in your company. After the interviews, compare notes. Only employ if all those that did the interviews are in agreement to employ the candidate. If not, move on to the next one, no matter HOW good the CV looks.

13) Accept that some really well qualified and experienced people are just not going to fit the profile (culture) of your company. That’s ok. Some will.

Now, don’t compromise. Don’t go for anything less than a full house. In other words all the boxes need to be checked with a tick and not a cross.

Recruiting is one of the most important business strategies, and it is concerning to see that something so important is generally relegated to a relatively junior HR person. Recruiting is the job of each manager. Don’t let someone else in your company just “give” you a person as if this is a uniform that is being issued to you. You are playing with the profitability of your department and / or your company.

Make effective recruiting a priority and most of your management headaches will disappear.

Mark Deavall is the managing director of Merit Business Institute, a company dedicated to increasing business productivity. If you would like to contact Mark please e-mail him on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

Should you wish to forward, copy or publish this article, please be sure to do so with the entire article in its original form, including this line.

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