Top tips on how to recruit the right people

How to recruit and interview your shortlist with confidence

How to explore the market, evaluate the potential of progression from within your organisation, and recruit and interview your shortlist with confidence: Here are my top tips on how to recruit the right people, with suggestions and solutions which are both manageable and thought provoking. When you find yourself with a vacancy in your team, typically this role needs filling as soon as possible. When this happens, it is very easy to take short cuts without exploring all of your options, and also without properly evaluating your business needs.

Your vacancy warrants the best possible opportunity to find the right person and I thought it would be useful to offer my top tips for recruiting. Here they are with my compliments:-

1.Pace yourself:

Take a step back and consider your current focus on the key headings of Structure, Process and Strategy. Consider any changes to these categories before you rush headlong into a quick win solution. Often vacancies occur when a person leaves. Don’t fall into the trap of simply replacing what you had before. Instead, seize the opportunity to fully assess what your remaining team members can achieve and if needed, what the new role should look like and why.

2.Refresh the job description:

An eye opener for you! To truly enable the fulfillment of a role, you at first need to understand the tasks and working pattern within it. Outline tasks and responsibilities and detail the competencies required. Include reporting structures and team involvement, so that you are representing an accurate, up to date picture. When considering the right job description and title, this is often a great opportunity to revamp outdated policies and reshape them with more appropriate or time / budget sensitive alternatives. Your HR representative should always be in the loop on this, and two heads are better than one when planning the finite appointment.

3.Get the advert right:

Take care when preparing the content of your advert for this role. Cutting and pasting from the internet will not save time in the long run, and you could be underselling the potential of how you could set the scene for your vacancy. Your candidates will appreciate a “real world” approach – rather than the well worn “rose tinted glasses” version. Consider the personality of your organisation and what it is like to work there. Your advert should exude this. Of course you will have a wish list in terms of knowledge and skills required – so do prepare for this properly – make this clear. Don’t be tempted to waffle! Leave out the clutter – further details can be discussed at interview stage. If you are confident about your induction / training and support as they progress, promote this.

If you want to attract the best person for the job role, you may want to consider recruiting both externally and internally. Think about how these adverts will differ and therefore be adjusted to suit.

4.Carefully select your questions for interview:

Consider the calibre of the role and pitch the questions at the right level. As every role is going to be different, you will include specifics in relation to that particular role.

To get you started, consider your opening words and how you will welcome the candidate so that they feel at ease and ready to demonstrate the real person behind the answers.

Ask questions which encourage the candidate to deliver to the best of their ability, whilst also enabling you to assess these things:

Presentation, skills, knowledgebase, experience.

Whilst questioning, you will observe:

Attitude, demeanour, behaviour, professionalism, initiative, quality and clarity of communication

Do ask them what they already know about your company. Their answer will speak volumes about how prepared and organised they were.

Structured questions encourage candidates to share the way they feel/felt about a situation / scenario. You could include some key questions which explore this and also the merit of how they handled / concluded matters.

(If you need help with the actual questions you should ask, do feel free to get in touch, as I would be delighted to help you frame up the best solution for your specific needs).


When planning the interview dates, think about the length of time you will need. Earmark dates in your diary and consider planning time before, during and afterwards. Communicate this to those who need to know.

Ensure that the questions you choose to ask can be adequately answered within your allotted time frame. My recommendation is to allow an hour for each candidate, and to plan a gap of 30 minutes before the next one. This allows you to evaluate and collect your thoughts about the candidate’s suitability.

6.Prepare your interview environment

Consider the interview space. This needs to be private and welcoming. It is often better to interview in your company’s board room or a meeting room, rather than your office, as this may be distracting. Which ever option you choose: Declutter your desk space,so that the candidate has the best possible chance to focus on you and the questions you will present. It is also important to provide a glass of water as a comforting gesture. (Easy to forget to allow time between interviews to replenish your jug and provide a clean glass).

7.Professionally greet each candidate:

Who will greet each candidate? Ideally, it is much more professional to allocate a specific person to assist you with this, however, if you are multitasking and you have to do this yourself – think about what will happen if someone arrives early whilst you are still in a previous interview. How will you cover this? It is important to remember that the first impression you create will set the scene for the candidate’s overall impression of you and the company you work for.

8.Use a Matrix:

When considering the merit of each candidate to recruit for interview, draw your summary conclusions in categories, so that you can truly compare “apples with apples.” Every business model is different (I can help you with this) but typically, your default categories for your matrix could be:

a) Presentation: What was your first impression? Is the candidate well presented? Imagine them as an ambassador for your company. How has the person prepared for the interview? Have they done their homework and impressed you with their preparation and observations about the role?

b) Skills: Does the candidate possess either the skills required to carry out the role, or the capability to learn, evolve and adapt to new skills when taught?

c) Knowledge: Explore the candidate’s depth of knowledge in respect of the role, the company and the specific business field/sector.

d) Experience: Experience is valuable and can be a significant asset to you, but it isn’t always necessary – consider the person’s answers with care. Can this person adapt their insight into your company’s ethos and values?

9.”Gut feel”:

Your matrix is there as evidence of what you have witnessed during the interview process, and an excellent aid when making the judgement call about who to take forward and recruit. There is another ingredient in the equation though, and that is your “gut feel” for this person and their fit with your existing team. Merging the principles of the two should help you to arrive at no more than three people for your second interview. (Ideally two.)

10.Shortlist for second interview:

Having collated your matrix scores and arrived at your shortlist to recruit, you will now need to communicate with all candidates interviewed.

Please consider those who are not successful and take time to word your declining letter with the right sentiments. I am confident that you will want to leave them feeling positive about the interview experience and the way they were treated, so don’t overlook this important step. Those who aren’t successful will still talk about you and the company, and it is refreshing to incite positive comments on the back of your own performance during the recruitment drive. It is also very rewarding to consider that you have not cut corners at this point.

You now need to consider / position how you will conduct your second interview sessions, bearing in mind all of the above categories. It is a good idea to involve a colleague / senior manager at second interview, so that you can liaise over your final matrix and confer over salient points before making your final decision.

Subject to role and calibre levels, you may choose to invite those shortlisted to prepare a short presentation, or bring along a prepared piece of work for you to talk through. My advice here would be to leave the style of delivery up to the candidate, rather than prescribe in any detail. This will encourage initiative and could be enlightening!

Last but not least…

Once you have made your choice and you are ready to recruit your new team member, you will need a robust induction programme and a significant ongoing plan for all of your training needs. I can help you plan for this and develop a recruitment and training regime which is fit for purpose and works in line with your budget.

Do feel free to get in touch by email:

or contact us here for more information

I do hope that this post is useful to you and I would be delighted to hear from you.

My best wishes,

Anita Williams