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Why Is It So Difficult to Recruit the Right People?

Again and again I come across small business owners, who are trying to operate with at least one, if not two hands tied behind their backs – in the words of Jim Collins; ‘they simply don’t have the right people on the bus’. Surrounding yourself with the right people is the only way to scale your business, without a good team you will always be limited by what you personally can achieve.

To build a good team we must first attract the right people, recognise them when we see them, engage and motivate them to perform, and then retain them; easy! Maybe not, but we can significant improve our hit rate by applying a little more science to our approach.

For the purpose of this blog I am going to assume that you have established the exact gap in your business for which you are recruiting, that you have designed a job and person specification accordingly, that you have created the perfect ad/carried out a positive search, and now have a list of candidates you wish to interview – thus I will concentrate only on the interview and specifically on Competency/Behavioural Based Interviewing.

Someone once said that the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. Unlike skills such as Selling or Time Management, behaviours demonstrate the underlying attitudes that make these skills effective. We all know the skilled salesman, who simply doesn’t have the interests of the wider business forward.  It is for this reason that I believe building an effective team means recruiting first for behaviours, (essential), and only then for skills, (desirable).

The basic premise of this type of interviewing is to never ask what would you do, but rather ask what did you do; this means asking candidates to think of a specific episode which illustrates the behaviour you are seeking, for example, instead of saying ‘how would you deal with an angry customer?”, rephrase to ‘think of a time when you were confronted with an angry customer’. This requires careful thought about the behaviours required for the role and designing questions in advance, questions, which really do test. It also requires careful listening and where necessary, asking for more detail. In this way you will build up a good indication of how you might expect them to perform in your business. Like any skill, this requires practice – the more you do the better you get

Interviewing Tips

  • Avoid interruptions – if you can not guarantee uninterrupted time with your candidate at the office then carry out interviews off-site and give them your full attention, (this is important for both parties).
  • Start by introducing yourself, offering them a drink and generally putting the candidate at ease. Outline at the beginning the format of the interview, including the duration, an explanation of behavioural interviewing and the process including referencing.
  • Body language – lean forward, make eye contact, smile, encourage and empathise. Observe the physical queues given by your candidate.
  • Make your questions clear and then listen – your candidate should be speaking for the majority of the time.
  • Silence – don’t feel the need to fill silences, tell your candidate that it is fine for them to take their time. If your role requires someone who can think quickly on their feet and they fail to do so in the interview this is a valuable finding, don’t cover it by talking over the silences.
  • Take notes – few of us have faultless memories, take notes so that you can refer back to responses and if necessary clarify later with the candidate or with referees.
  • Think about the fit with the rest of your team.


If you would like to discuss your approach to recruitment over a coffee please call Fran McArthur on 07789520205 or join our next Recruitment & Interviewing Skills Workshops starting January 2016.