Effective Recruitment: 5 Key Steps from an Employment Expert.

As we entered winter 2021, worrying figures suggested that the UK labour market was about to face “the Great Resignation” with some surveys reporting that a quarter of UK workers were planning a change of job in the coming three to six months. According to the Office for National Statistics, resignations, vacancies, and job-to-job moves in 2021 were the highest they’ve been in the UK for 20 years, and research seems to show that unfair conditions and pay, poor work-life balance, lack of support for wellbeing and new needs of employees emerging from the pandemic have fed into a mass-movement of labour in the UK. Here, Employment Expert, Lucy Flynn, explains five key steps for effective recruitment.

As we move from winter into spring, low supply of available workers and high demand for labour continues and around 40% of employers are reporting increased staff turnover or real difficulties in retaining and attracting talent.

It is encouraging to see that many employers are rising to the challenge and attempting to honestly address the reasons for their own migrating workforce to try to ensure that their own business is a good place to work.  Pay is often at the top of the agenda but offering truly flexible working is also proving to be very popular with employees.  Employers are also finding that having a genuine focus on investing in staff in terms of training, development and wellbeing support is helping them to recruit and retain valuable talent.

Key Steps for Effective Recruitment

1. Understanding the Role

Once a business knows what it can offer to prospective employees, the first step in effective recruitment is identifying what it is the business needs in terms of both the function of the role in the business and the skills needed by the person to fulfil that role.

Preparing a job description can be a useful step to understanding the gap and how best to fill it; explaining the requirements of the role so that it attracts the right recruits can be challenging but is key to ensuring effective recruitment.

More and more employers are being open and clear about pay, hours, benefits and flexibility in job advertisements and are finding this an effective way to attract talent and avoid bias or discrimination during the recruitment process.

2. Advertising

The multitude of options can make this decision scary, and each have pros and cons, such as:

  • Job sites can reach a huge audience, but can attract excessive and unsuitable CVs
  • Recruiters can help with a more focussed approach, but can be expensive
  • Internal advertising can save time and money but narrows the potential pool
  • Social media sites such as LinkedIn have a wide platform but rely on the target talent engaging in that media

The answer in most cases is that a mixture of the above is the best approach to balance the need to fill the role with ensuring the advertisement reaches (and does not exclude) the right potential talent for the business.

It is also important to make sure that, whatever the forum of the advertisement, the role, benefits and key values and skills of both the business and the candidate are clearly stated.

Doing this will help to ensure that the job or the way in which it is advertised is not inadvertently discriminatory in its use of language or criteria.  For example, advertising for a “Headmaster” might suggest that only men need apply, or seeking “young and dynamic” applicants could exclude older applicants.  It is essential that the skillset or experience required is objective and is applied evenly at interview.


3. Deciding who to interview

This can very much depend on the number and quality of applicants – but is where a good objective job description comes into its own.  Where there are a lot of potential recruits, selecting those whose skills most closely align with the gap the business is looking to fill is much easier when the job description and candidate profile is clear.

Again, it’s essential to avoid discrimination and ensure that potential recruits are not rejected based on a protected characteristic – for example, age, sex, or ethnicity.  The focus should always be on the skills and experience required for the role and whether, objectively, the candidate possesses these skills.

4. Interview Technique

There is much resource available regarding effective interview techniques, what questions to ask and what to look out for at interview.  However, the most important thing is to prepare in advance and use the interview as an opportunity to understand the individual.

Some useful tips are to:

  • decide in advance the questions to ask, and really understand the job role beforehand so the questions can focus on finding out whether the individual has the requisite skills
  • feel free to take the job description or a list of questions to the interview for reference but try to avoid reading from a script
  • so that the interview and conversation can flow ask a note-taker to attend or make notes afterwards
  • ask questions designed to find out whether the candidate has the skills the role and the business needs and see if they would be a good fit for the team and the business
  • ask questions which are broadly the same for each interviewee to avoid any unconscious bias or discrimination
  • find out why the interviewee is interested in both the role and the business
  • give the interviewee the chance to ask questions about the role and the business
  • be ready to answer questions and to give a positive account of the role, the team and the business as a whole
  • remember that the interview is a two-way process and it’s important to find out about the candidate but also allow the candidate to find out about the business


5. Making an Offer

After the interview, if a suitable candidate has been identified, then the offer of employment should be made.  The offer needs to be clear as to whether it is an unconditional offer, or whether it is subject to certain criteria, such as satisfactory references, proof of ability to work in the UK or certain qualifications.  There should be a clear timeline for compliance with the criteria and/or acceptance.

Remember that s.1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 entitled all employees to a written statement of terms from the first day of employment.

In practice, and in the spirit of openness, many employers like to set the basic employment terms out in an offer letter so that the candidate can properly understand the role – such as those relating to holidays, benefits, and probationary periods – which might not have been set out in the advertisement or discussed at interview.

By Lucy Flynn