Hiring Talent – 10 steps to getting it right

20 May 2013

When you’ve got a vacancy to fill, you want to make sure you get the best person possible. Hiring talent is a difficult enough process as it is – you don’t want to be wasting energy and effort getting anyone but the best.

We’ve condensed our many years experience in legal recruitment into just a few short steps, to help you make sure your next appointment is the right one.

Dedicate time

If you plan on spending just an hour or so of your time over the weekend finding someone for your vacancy, then you are not going to find the right candidate. Establish a ‘hiring team’, with involvement from the eventual line manager, HR and whichever senior partners need to be involved. Confirm who needs to complete which actions and meet regularly to discuss progress.

Look in the right places

We’re sure you won’t be advertising a partner-level position on the local Sainsbury’s job board, but have you managed to get your vacancy out across all available channels? We’ve talked recently about the size of your network being small in comparison to others, such as Jepson Holt’s own. Try to tap into larger networks of contacts and make sure that the candidates you want are aware that you have a vacancy.

Advertise careers, not jobs

Do you want someone who’s just turning up for the paycheck, or a key employee, invested in taking your business forward? Assuming you agree that the latter is better, you need to make sure that is reflected in job descriptions. Emphasise what they’ll be expected to do for the company and talk a little about where you’re going, hopefully with the candidate in tow.

Be prepared to rank

It sounds a little bit ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, but ranking candidates and then examining exactly how your hiring team settled on the order helps you to not only prioritise candidates but also to strip out any confusing side factors. Continually ask yourself why your top candidate is your top candidate. If you can’t name at least three sound business reasons, then they are not your top candidate.

Be rigorous, but forgiving

It’s easy to strip out candidate C.V’s because of spelling and grammar mistakes but do you really want to discount a top applicant because their finger slipped while typing you their excellent, thought-out, application letter? Be rigorous, and of course awful mistakes should be treated appropriately, but don’t discount high-level candidates for minor application flaws. Keep them in the mix and evaluate on more meaningful business elements later.

Don’t rely on old interview techniques

Ask the questions you really want answers to. If you don’t really care about hearing an applicant’s example of when they overcame a personal challenge, then don’t ask them about it. If you want to see how they’d cope in a particular scenario, then set up a scenario for them and gauge how they handle it. It’s your interview process. Don’t feel constrained by how you’ve seen processes completed in the past. Learn from what worked and get rid of what didn’t.

Assess on multiple levels

If you’ve been really impressed by a candidate’s work history then the natural temptation is to focus on that element. Make sure you vary the areas you probe though. Assess their ability to communicate and other intangibles, as well as the elements on their C.V. Be prepared to rank them based on multiple factors. Again, it’s the only way to find out if your top candidate is really your top candidate.

Get qualitative evidence

If the candidate says they have excellent experience of civil litigation cases involving large corporate entities, get them to name some examples, explain their involvement, give case details and reveal the resolutions. If they’re as good as they say, they should be able to back this up with granular detail and hard evidence.

Make sure the candidate wants the job

There’s no point spending a lot of time with a candidate who is either speculatively checking the market, doesn’t care about your position or already has several better offers. Get some of these questions in early and gauge how much you think the candidate cares about your company. Have they visited your website? This should be an absolute minimum for someone who’s interested in a role in order to come to an interview in the right state of preparedness.

Develop a clear ‘new starter’ methodology

You’ve found your perfect hire, they’ve accepted the job… now what? Make sure you don’t let the candidate slip away two weeks after joining, when you should be empowering them to get straight on with their job and involving them in your company’s activities. The hiring team should create a new starter plan that you are ready to share with prospective hires, again showing just what a great company you are.

Jepson Holt work with businesses to help them grow and prosper through their people. We can find key individuals, teams or complete businesses. Our recruitment page has further details on all of the services we provide.