Will they work through their lunch break?
This is a question I was asked recently by a small business owner. I know this guy well and he’s not the sort of manager to dump piles of work on his staff and expect them to stay until it’s all done.
What this business owner really meant was that he wanted to hire someone who would work hard and be prepared to go the extra mile when necessary to deliver on time.
Know what exactly what you’re looking for
When setting out on a recruitment campaign, the first thing to do is to identify the job requirements and to define what you mean by these. Then you can easily spot them.
Here are a couple of definitions that you’ll want to consider:
Not so fast…
When in a hurry to fill a vacancy yesterday, this defining stage is commonly missed out, and leads business owners to make poor hiring decisions. They don’t know what they’re looking for or when they’ve found it.
Your business needs people who can also manage their time effectively, prioritise and deliver work to tight deadlines.
It’s not just about working lunches
Having people with these skills and qualities really does matter to your business. You rely on them to work with minimal supervision and if a person can’t/won’t pull their weight, the rest of your team suffers along with your customers.
So how do you tell if a candidate is conscientious, has a good work ethic and strong time management skills?
‘Would you work through your lunch break to meet a deadline?’ isn’t going to cut it as an interview question.
They will simply answer: ‘of course’, because that’s what they know you want to hear.
Afterwards, they will also quietly withdraw themselves from your recruitment process.
Who wants to work for someone who asks that kind of interview question?
However nicely you phrase the question, it will still lead the quality candidates you want to attract and hire, to make assumptions about the culture of your organisation. You can be sure that they will tell all their friends about your ‘killer’ question.
Do your due diligence
Using structured interviews and asking candidates to give you examples of these skills and qualities is a good first stage. This will give you a feel for how they might behave in the role.
To complete your assessment thoroughly however, you need to invest in carefully designed, relevant, job-related tasks to allow candidates to really show you how they would deal with day to day tasks. You’ll get hard evidence of the things you’re looking for, particularly time management skills, and this will differentiate the gems. You’ll also see who struggles and doesn't have what it takes to thrive in your team.
The final stage is to take a look at the person under the microscope. Psychometric assessments give you an insight into what makes them tick that you can’t get from an interview. You’ll find out what motivates them, how accurate, thorough and systematic they are, and how conscientious.
If you’re fed up with hiring people who don’t work out as planned because they’ve just told you what you want to hear, let’s talk. We’ll develop a recruitment process that you can trust.
Book a call, even during your lunchbreak!
I recently organised a follow up meeting with someone I’d met at a networking group. Nothing unusual about this, I know, but I was particularly excited as she was based in Manchester which is a new area for me to develop contacts and relationships.
My natural instinct, as an experienced interviewer, is to start off asking someone about themselves and their business so this is how we began.
22 minutes later, this lady was still talking about herself.
She was also telling me lots about how to go about recruiting someone and giving me hints and tips on how to do this effectively.
Rather than interrupt her flow, I carried on listening, nodding and smiling. I was thinking to myself, she must surely be about to stop and ask about me and my business.
Sadly, this wasn’t to be the case. She did stop, but only to ask me what it was that I wanted to know about her, as I’d organised this meeting.
We’ve all met these sorts of people, who lack the self-awareness and interpersonal skills required to have a balanced and effective networking meeting.
What if this person worked for me?
How would they interact with my clients? Would they:
How would you find out before you made the wrong decision to hire them?
Hiring mistakes are bad for business
Service based businesses rely heavily on their people: their ability to get to know client needs, identify where they can add value and build trust. Asking open questions about others is the only way to effectively achieve this and if a person doesn’t have this in their skill set, they are going to be bad for your business.
The wrong person will at best, jar negatively with colleagues, at worst cause reputational damage to your brand and lose you clients.
The trouble is that people who like to talk about themselves excessively may well perform seemingly brilliantly at interview and impress you into thinking they are the right person for your team.
‘They were really confident and chatty. Just what we’re looking for’
Effective interviews should consist of 20% interviewer talking, 80% candidate so they will feel right at home in an interview.
However, in order not to have the wool pulled over your eyes, you need to have other forms assessment in place in addition to structured interviews, which will identify individuals who have the relevant building relationships skills and those who simply don’t.
Scenario based exercises and role plays are ideal for this. You can observe a candidate in a near job simulation and check out their ability to ask questions, listen and build relationships. You’ll be amazed at the insight you gain into the way someone behaves.
If you’d like to learn how to spot an ‘all about me’ and select an ‘all about them’, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. You can book an initial discovery call and I can assure you, we’ll talk all about you.
Yesterday, I learned some interesting things about Generation Z (18-25 year olds).
Who would have known?!
I’m so glad that I bothered to show up at the webinar to hear expert, Paul Redmond, (international speaker, writer and researcher) present on this fascinating topic.
These are all incredibly useful things for me to know, as many of my SME clients who are expanding their teams, wish to reach out to this group of young people, and attract them to come and work for them.
However, when these small business owners decide that they need to recruit someone new, they don’t always initially turn to an expert. I often have business owners say to me:
‘I need to hire someone.’
‘I hate recruiting, it’s a nightmare. ‘
‘You never know if they can do the job, my last new hire couldn’t.’
‘It was so disappointing, he sounded so good in the interview, but just couldn’t do the job and he upset team members and some of my customers.‘
‘We had to let him go.’
Does this sound familiar?
These business owners often can’t quite put their finger on why this happened but know that in order to scale their business they need to become better at recruitment.
They don’t know what they don’t know.
Through working with me, they find out what they don’t know. They learn that they can hire the people their business needs by having a structured recruitment process and that this makes everything a whole lot easier.
With a new system, they’ll:
If you’re ready to recruit your next new team member, and want to know what you don’t know about recruiting the right people, I’d love to hear from you.
PS Here’s a link to Paul Redmond’s blog about how to fast track Generation Covid back to work.
‘We want to do it better’
This is what many clients say to me at the start of our working relationship.
‘We’re haphazard, unstructured and not really very good at recruiting the right people, in fact we find it quite stressful’.
They realise things could be done differently and more effectively but can’t quite put their finger on what needs to change.
Why would they know? They’re not recruitment specialists, they are bid writers, IT support and services experts, marketing managers, senior care providers etc.
More often than not, we start from scratch with a new, logical, step by step process that will save them time and make recruitment a whole lot easier and less stressful for them.
Most business owners who are looking to scale up, take the recruitment of new team members very seriously. They want to learn to do it professionally and efficiently so that they can surround themselves with talented people who will be key to growing the business.
They want to avoid:
When people are your biggest asset, it makes sense to ensure you hire the very best, and not leave it to chance. Having a professional structured process will eliminate many of these concerns and enhance your employer brand too, encouraging candidates to engage and be motivated to work with you.
Here’s what a recent client said:
‘Ali led us through a really great process, giving us a proper basis for decisions, and a clear framework for the future. She understood our situation exactly and gave such clear and tailored advice. We’ve now hired a new team member and even in her first week, she's been great, displaying all the positive indicators we identified in the interview and fitting so well into the team’.
Let’s talk about how we can work together to take the stress out of recruitment for you and build a process that identifies new team members who will help your business grow. Call me on
07971511731 or email email@example.com
I'd love to hear from you.
Having a structured recruitment process in place helps filter out unsuitable candidates before they’ve taken up much of your time.
A client of mine told me about a recent narrow escape. He’d just first interviewed a number of applicants for a key role he was recruiting for and shortlisted a handful that he felt showed potential. These candidates he invited to attend a second stage, designed to investigate further some of the key skills and qualities required for the role. They were asked to take part in a written exercise and a presentation.
He was surprised at two rather disappointing reactions. One was that ‘my circumstances have now changed and I won’t be pursuing this opportunity.’ The other was consistently no reply.
They might as well have said ‘I'd rather tidy my sock drawer.’
Wow, he said, I could have easily hired one of these people.
Both candidates were clearly put off by having to complete these job-related tasks.
We can only assume that:
a. They didn’t really want the job that much after all.
b. They didn’t feel confident that they could do these tasks.
c. They have lots of socks.
The good news is that my client had a newly designed, recruitment process in place that prevented him from hiring one of these individuals who had performed so well in their first interviews.
Needless to say he was extremely relieved and delighted that he had invested in this multi-staged process.
Many small businesses still rely on interviews only which is a very risky practice. When you’re growing your business, you’ll want to hire great people.
A talented team will help you deliver a continuously improving service or product to your customers and expand your reach, revenue and profit.
Choosing these people is a huge responsibility. Getting it wrong can be a time consuming, expensive nightmare.
There are three things to think about when setting out to expand your team:
✅ Are you on the radar of great candidates?
✅ Does your website sell you as an employer?
✅ Do you have a warm, friendly but structured recruitment process?
If you can say 'yes' to all of these, great, keep doing what you’re doing.
If you can’t, you’re in danger of hiring sock drawer tidiers and you need to call me on 07971511731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.
We’ve just become proud owners of a new car. Well new to us. Nothing fancy, but it gets us from A to B nicely and comfortably. It’s a lovely upgrade from our previous 15 year old, faithful family car. That, had electric windows that didn’t go back up, a sat nav that had a very annoying beep that didn’t turn off and a music system that only did radio.
When we went to collect our new toy from the garage, the salesman, Chris, eagerly explained how all the gadgets worked, where the fog lights were and how to pop up the bonnet. He didn’t ask us if we knew how to drive though. He assumed we could.
This was the inspiration for this article.
When I design a new recruitment process for a client, I always spend time with them, explaining how it works. I make sure they know how the scores for the interviews and exercises come together and help them make a decision on each candidate.
I don’t assume that they can interview well though. Most people can’t. It’s an advanced skill that needs to be learned.
To get full value from their shiny new recruitment process, interviewers need to know how to interview candidates thoroughly, and be able to probe their answers to get all the information they need.
Some decline my offer of a short interviewing skills session by saying: ‘I think I’m ok thanks’.
It’s only when they’ve conducted a few interviews that haven’t gone so smoothly that they realise that they should upskill themselves and ask for some training.
Many people find making a decision really hard because they haven’t collected enough evidence from candidates, others say that their interviews go on for far too long, and sadly some make costly, time consuming hiring mistakes.
When we brought our new car home, all the family wanted to sit in it and play with the gadgets we’d never had before, including my son’s girlfriend, who doesn’t drive. She sat in the driver’s seat and immediately said ‘I’d better learn to drive now!’
That’s what my clients would be better off saying right from the start.
Here’s a client who wanted to maximise the value from the new recruitment process I designed for her:
Ali delivered an interviewing skills workshop for our management team. She made the session extremely interactive and engaging and we all thoroughly enjoyed learning how to ask the right questions and probe to get detailed answers. The practice interviews were really useful and Ali gave valuable feedback on how we could improve our techniques. I’d highly recommend Ali’s workshop if you’re recruiting staff or management and want to feel confident that you’ll do a good job and make the right decision. Helen Campbell-Wroe, CEO at Pathways to Independence
If you’d like to upskill yourself so that you’re ready for the driving seat, my online workshop: How to conduct a thorough probing interview and make the right decision is for you. It’s on Wednesday 18th November at 10-12 and will give you the knowledge, tools and practice to:
Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about this and how it would help you. Otherwise, go ahead and book your place here.
I was having a conversation with someone yesterday who has a job interview next week. He was doing a lot of the talking and was, in my opinion, scarily verbose. I was thinking to myself, what a challenging interview his would be to conduct and am hoping that his interviewer is well trained and experienced in controlling and keeping interviews to time. Otherwise this interview is going to be a record breaker!
I feel like reaching out to this unsuspecting interviewer and warning them what to expect in their 10am next Tuesday. I’d like to let them know in advance to get their stopwatch out and be ready to heavily interrupt, refocus and control this interviewee.
Controlling a candidate right from the start is crucial. If they blow you away by talking too much, you need to intervene, get them back on track, and ask them to come to the point. It’s your duty as an interviewer to let a candidate know when to stop talking otherwise they won’t have the chance to answer all your questions and give you the evidence you need to make a decision.
When interviewing, it’s really important to give the same amount of interview time to each person, so that you’re fair and consistent and allow each candidate the same chance to sell themselves. If you allow an interview to overrun by more than a few minutes, you’re giving that individual an unfair advantage and most likely, keeping another waiting. For your own sanity, back to back interviews that are running late is a situation to avoid at all costs.
Half an hour is a good length of time for a first interview. The purpose is to filter out unsuitable candidates and narrow down your pipeline to a manageable number of candidates who you then invite to further assessments. You don’t want to fill your day with hour long first interviews, as you’ll never get any other work done. Five, thirty minute interviews in a day is one thing but five, hour long interviews is quite another.
If your first interviews are taking up too much of your precious time, you might be interested in my online workshop where I share techniques on how to control an interview and ensure you run to schedule.
How to Conduct a Probing Interview and Make the Right Decision on 18th November 10-12 will give you the knowledge, tools and practice to:
1. Structure a professional interview.
2. Ask the right questions and probe answers thoroughly.
3. Gain key evidence to decide if the candidate has the skills and qualities for the role.
4. Assess and score all candidates fairly and objectively.
5. Have the competence and confidence to make the right decision.
Attend this workshop and you will:
The cost is just £45 which is great value to learn how to avoid record breaking interviews. Please book your place here.
I hope you can join me.
One in three UK firms expect to cut jobs by autumn (The Guardian)
If you are expecting to make redundancies in the next few months, one of the kindest things you could do is to provide those you have to sadly let go, with the skills and confidence to seek a new job.
Many of your staff won’t have had an interview for years and will feel terrified by the prospect of putting themselves out there in such a competitive job market.
How do you feel about working remotely?
Do you enjoy the cost and time saving of not having to travel to work? Or do you miss the office energy and people vibe? Or both?
Now, how do you feel about recruiting a new team member, would you be happy to do that working from home?
I was recently asked this brilliant question by Elliott King, founder of MintTwist, digital marketing agency based in London.
“It takes a long time to ‘triage’ applicants and to first interview candidates. What do you recommend we do to speed up and improve the quality of the process to save costs and improve the quality of 2nd interviewees?”
Such a relevant question for business owners wanting to grow their teams in the current market and for the foreseeable future.