Recruitment: Art or Science? – The Knack of Finding Good People

Some organisations seem to be better at finding good people than others. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re large conglomerates or small family businesses, or whether they’re long-standing operations or new start-ups; some of them do a better job of recruitment than others.


Which is probably why there is such a profusion of recruitment agencies all vying to fill your vacancies; add to the fact that it is extremely lucrative – which is another indicator of the value businesses attach to ‘finding good people’ (or the ‘costs’ of not finding good people!)

First of all – how do we know that some organisations are better than others – what are the measures? There are some good, reliable measures; speed to competency (ROI), staff turnover (long-term v short-term), staff engagement and ‘top places to work’ best-companies surveys reveal a great deal about an organisation’s ability to find good people.

Secondly – what actions can be taken to improve the recruitment process? It is important to understand that no recruitment system is guaranteed 100% reliable (if it was there would be no need for recruiters!). Once that is accepted then it’s a matter of stacking the odds more in your favour – to save both you and the candidate the pain of poor recruitment decisions.

Aim: Make sure that you know, in no uncertain terms, exactly what ‘good’ looks like in your business. Then strive to get enough of the right stages in place to identify and assess the qualities of a ‘good person’ throughout the selection process.

For example:

Test for the basics

Literacy – can they write a clear coherent email (appropriate spelling and grammar) that communicates effectively for your business requirements?

Numeracy – can they use a calculator and/or spreadsheet well enough to avoid costly errors?

Personality – do you know what sort of personality profile does well in your organisation and in that particular job function? Can you test for it reliably – at least well enough to be followed up more thoroughly in the interview?


Interviews (the mainstay of most selection processes)

How senior do the interviewers need to be? What extra can be learned from ‘peer’ interviews? Are there clearly articulated competences for the role (that are naturally derived from what ‘good’ looks like) – and do the interviewers know how to test for them?


Assessment Centres

If there are sufficient applicants of suitable calibre – can they be ‘assessed’ in a group, not only for time-saving but actually some very interesting qualities can be more easily observed in groups than one-to-one?


Simulations and Role-plays

Give the candidate opportunities to demonstrate their skills and experience in as near-to-real-life as you can make it, e.g. ‘selling’ to their peers – or leading a team activity – or handling a ‘complaint’


Team/culture fit

Arrange opportunities for the candidate to ‘socialise’ with their intended peers/colleagues – possibly during an extended break over coffee or even during lunch time with food etc. Is it possible for them to do some on-the-job ‘work experience’ so that they can assess you as well as vice versa. Ensure you get structured feedback from the ‘team’ who will have been briefed beforehand to look for specific qualities/characteristics

The more tailored steps that can be included – the more opportunities there are to collect evidence of a candidate’s suitability – or otherwise.

Art or Science – or just Luck? Whilst there are some tried and tested methodologies that will help stack the odds in your favour, there is inevitably an element of subjective judgement (otherwise known as ‘gut-instinct’ and experience) that is also very valuable if it is used in conjunction with the ‘objective’ measures as well. The right combination of Art and Science will increase your Luck factor significantly!