Published: 06 Apr 2016
Updated: 20 Apr 2022

Hiring how-to: Tips on recruiting the best employees for your business from square one.


So you’re hiring? This may mean that your business is doing well and you’re expanding, or else that a current member of the team is moving on to pastures new. Either way, the need to recruit should always be seen as a key opportunity for any business, large or small, to add human capital that will drive their business to the next level. We take a look at some key suggestions for making sure you hire smart.

Start from zero

Before you even think about placing an ad, sit down and think very carefully about the role that you’re hiring for. If it’s a brand new position that’s being created, start by writing up a checklist of key responsibilities. From here, you can create a clear job description for the position. If you’re replacing a current member of the team, you’ll ideally want to ask for their input during this process – after all, who knows the role better than someone who is already doing it? Some points to consider include:

  • How central is this role to the company?
  • What are the essential daily tasks? Are there also weekly, monthly and ad-hoc responsibilities to consider?
  • Will the person need specific technical, language or other specialist skills to do the job?
  • Will the person be coming into the role “cold”, or is there a handover period?
  • Is there room for growth in the role or will the position remain reasonably static?
  • Where do you see that person fitting into your company in a year’s time? How about two, five or even ten years?

Once you have your “hitlist” of essentials, it’s time to draft a thorough job description detailing the role’s key responsibilities, along with background on the company. You can use this as the basis for your job advert.

Be realistic

The old adage states that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Think carefully about the role’s total remuneration package, including all benefits such as bonuses, share options, annual leave, medical cover and other perks like subsidised travel or lunch. You should be aiming to match the current market rate, leaving flexibility in the budget for pay rises or bonuses in line with satisfactory performance reviews. Paying your staff a fair salary is about more than just money; it’s demonstrating that you acknowledge their value to the company.

If salary budgets are tight, consider all your options. Can you offer a lower fixed salary, but better commission rates, paid once revenue targets are achieved? Does the role definitely require a full time commitment, or could it be part-time? How about increasing annual leave allowances instead of salary? It quite literally pays to be creative.

Be prepared

Would-be employers can often forget that the interview process is a two-way street. Not only are you interviewing the candidate for suitability, but they are also interviewing you – and by extension the company as a whole, and first impressions always count.

It may sound obvious, but on the big day, prepare for the interview by familiarising yourself with the applicant’s CV and cover letter. Nothing says “indifferent management” more than an interviewer who hasn’t bothered to read what a candidate has sent them. It’s also very disrespectful to the person who has made the effort to reach out to your company and is certain to leave a bad impression, so take ten minutes to read carefully.

Leave personal questions, such as about age, marital status or childcare arrangements out of your interviewing repertoire. Not only are these questions intrusive and unnecessary, they are also against the law in many countries, so keep questions professional. If in doubt, local government websites often provide guidelines on employment equality legislation for reference.

Finally, consider that the applicant will be assessing whether they want to spend eight or more hours per day in your office, so do consider your surroundings. Would the space benefit from a tidy up? Has the currently empty desk turned into a general dumping ground? Be honest – if you walked into the space for the first time, would you find it an enticing place to work? If the answer is “no”, then address this or potentially lose out on winning candidates who will find a more attractive option elsewhere.

Following these common-sense guidelines will help to ensure a good fit for your company and its newest team member.

Happy hiring!


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