Recruiting the right people for the job

Ever loved someone at an interview, only to find—a month into the job—that they were a big mistake? There’s no magic formula for hiring and sometimes you have to go with your gut. But here are some top tips for recruiting the right person for the job.

In the 13 years I’ve been running my business, I’ve hired—and had to let go—many people for many reasons. I’ve experienced all combinations and levels of skill and commitment; this includes good team players, poor team players, low performers, those demonstrating the height of excellence and integrity, skilled but indifferent, highly skilled but not right for Taurus, old, young, and those somewhere in between.

The bad news
After all that time, through mentors, recruitment experts, psychologists and executive coaches, I have yet to reach a magic formula. As someone who is highly organised and process driven, not to have a definitive equation that works sucks. But I meet people every day—and particularly those in high places—and very few can talk me through a definitive equation for success.

The good news
What I do have, however, is some hard earned advice and valid recommendations to help. In the same way no-one has yet worked out an equation to help us find our right life partner, ultimately, hiring someone new should be based on the premise that you at the very least go with your gut instinct. Recruiting is a bit like marriage. Even with the best research and best approach, there is no guarantee it is actually going to work
The common denominator in all my experiences of recruiting is that it was my ultimate decision. Mostly I get it right. The people I’ve hired over the years have given me some of my most proud and memorable moments and are still doing so, even if they’ve moved on. But sometimes I’ve got it wrong and when it’s wrong, it can hurt.

At best, you admit your mistakes and exit someone complete and intact out of the business—after all it’s not their fault your job isn’t the right fit— so that at the end of the day, both of you are left intact. This is vital. Treating others as you hope to be treated is a good mantra to hold dear in recruiting and as one of your target markets, its all part of the marketing mix.

At worst, hiring the wrong fit damages your reputation and leaves your customer relationships in tatters. It causes disruption and sometimes heartache for one party or the other, not to mention the cost against the bottom line in training, advertising and recruitment fees, plus managing the handover of workload. Getting it wrong can result in lost business, lost clients, lost morale and ultimately lost revenue and sales.
On the flip side, it remains the ultimate truth that getting the right people ‘on the bus’ is critical to the success of your business and makes the world a happier, easier place. Like any relationship, the journey of finding and keeping that ‘right’ person is fraught with danger but can reward you with the greatest highs.

So what’s involved?

I’ve experimented just about every which way. I’ve hired people after one interview and they’ve started the next day (and are still here years later). I’ve also taken months to hire one person via the most complex recruitment process involving various combinations such as psychometric testing, multiple interviews, group interviews, one-on-ones, my business advisors attending and not, my team interviewing and not. I’ve recruited through specialist agencies, via online job ports, word of mouth and ads in local papers.
What might work? Well for Taurus, we’ve had the most success using online job sites such as Seek or the Sydney Morning Herald. Our process:

  • Group buy-in on the job description
  • Place the advert
  • Review the resume
  • Conduct a telephone interview
  • Face to face, one-on-one interview at the office
  • The team or management interview the candidate
  • We reference check thoroughly
  • We interview again for final OK
  • We discuss the decision departmentally
  • We offer the position
  • We define probation and KPIs


It’s important to start by defining exactly what you want from a role: what must they do to justify their wage? So take a moment to identify the absolute imperatives the individual must perform to stay employed.
It is always better to search with a defined shopping list, otherwise you may choose something you don’t really need just because it caught our eye. The danger of course is you might like someone and warm to them, but if they don’t have the precise skills or experience you set out to hire, then they’re not the right person to hire.

Next, build a solid job description, complete with exactly what you want the person to do, required experience and education and the personal qualities you are looking for. Be strict as it helps consolidate the role in your mind. Sounds obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to be distracted from these fundamentals when you are head down and running the show. Finally, establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other measurable criteria for them to be working towards.

Top tips to hire the right people

1.    Write down the absolute imperatives the person must perform (what must they do to be paid?)
2.    What is the required minimum experience?
3.    What is the required minimum skill set?
4.    What are the nice-to-haves?
5.    What personal qualities or core values will the new person have so they are culturally aligned?
6.    Define a clear job description with KPIs
7.    Define the benefits of the job
8.    Define the future of the position

Things to ask at the interview

  • Why are you interviewing with us?
  • What attracted you to this position? This company?
  • What do you really want to do – paint a picture of your perfect job?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • Give me an example of a difficult situation you handled in your last position?
  • Where will you be in 2/3 yrs time?
  • What are the most important things you are looking for in your worklife?
  • What is your salary expectation?
  • What sort of environment do you want to work in?
  • Are you planning on staying in Australia / or do you have travel plans?
  • Have you looked at our website?

Great opportunity for trial
Probation periods offer both parties a chance to trial with an easy exit if expectations are not being met and things aren’t working well. Additionally, probation gives both parties a chance to succeed and to prove themselves.

In summary, after you’ve put together the job description, KPIs, conducted the interviews, examined the pros and cons and taken references, my advice ultimately has to be, go with your gut instinct. Like so many things in life, if it’s not right at the beginning, it is unlikely to be right after three-to-six months and the time will come when both of you have to cut your losses and move on. If you know your business well and have thought through in detail what you really need, chances are you’ll match the search.

—Sharon Williams is CEO of Taurus Marketing (www.taurusmarketing.com.au) and a member of the Dynamic Business Expert Panel.

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