Totem-Recruitment 400x265Where To Start When Recruiting

Whilst we don’t want to teach you how to suck eggs – whatever that means, we do often get asked what simple steps can be taken to make a more robust hiring decision. So here they are.

Great performance at work comes from the three components of What, How and Why.  Whether we are recruiting a new colleague or managing an existing one – we will need to review all three aspects to develop a great performer.  To start with, put yourself in the position of the new recruit and ask yourself these questions.


What do I need to do?  What am I expected to do?  What are the objectives, measures, KPIs?  What is most important?

If I had been doing this role for 12 months and was getting great feedback, what would I have achieved?  How would I know I had achieved those things?

What about after 3 years?  What would I hope to achieve by then?  How would I know I had achieved those things?


How do I need to be?  How do I fit in with the culture here?  How do I connect with the values here?  How am I expected to behave?


Why do I need to do it – and why in that way?  Why does this role exist?  What part do I play?  Why is that important?

Next you’ll need to write a Job Description that works.  Most often job descriptions end up being dusty documents in a drawer – yet we can get far better use from them for recruitment, performance management and development – it might be useful to have a peak at this PDF.


What Selection Method(s) should I use?

Years of research into selection methods used across all sorts of businesses and job roles has revealed that the more structured the assessment process, the better we can predict how well someone will perform in a job.  The highest prediction comes from combining a few key methods and we strongly recommend a structured interview and a work sample test.

A personality profile can also be extremely insightful when identifying someone who is the right fit for your business.

Work Sample Tests

The idea of a work sample test is wonderfully simple: “The greatest test of how well someone might do in a job is the test of seeing them do the job.”

What aspects of the role you are recruiting for could you test – in a real situation or perhaps in a role play or desk-based exercise?  Ideas could include:

  • Giving the candidate a customer or client role play to perform in
  • An in tray exercise that requires candidates to sort and prioritise a workload
  • Asking the candidate to prove their claimed experience by using software or IT system

The best work sample tests feature as much reality as possible – so add in the kind of questions people usually ask and the challenges faced – cover the What, How and even the Why by asking questions afterwards – “why did you choose that approach?”

You should have in mind what a good performer will look like from the job description questions – so that ideally you can objectively rate candidates against these criteria (rather than just deciding who you liked).

Overall you will have a ‘gut feel’ for who may be right for you – which is fine as long as you back that up or challenge it with evidence.  Great recruitment practices are about sense-checking and challenging that intuition with more objective information – so that you know you’ve made a good quality decision for your business.