The Onfi-DOs and Onfi-DON’Ts of Hiring with GradTouch founder Zac Williams [Part I]

As explained in a previous infographic blogpost, the cost of a bad hire can be significant. Companies not only lose financially (£11,597 was the average redundancy settlement in 2011/12) but through damage to reputation, internal disruption, wastes associated with training (time and money) and via the poor performance of the candidate whilst in the role.

In order to reduce the risk of hiring mistakes, the minds of Onfido have collaborated with Zac Williams – founder and operations director at GradTouch, one of the UK’s fastest growing graduate recruitment companies – to bring you a two-part special feature, aptly titled the “Onfi-DOs” and “Onfi-DON’Ts” of hiring. We’ll be starting with the Onfi-DOs and following up next week with part II the Onfi-DON’Ts.

Onfi-DO’s

  1. Advertise your company and the role suitably in order to ensure a good range of candidates

Long before interviews and before you even think about reading the first CV that flies into your mailbox, the first step to making a good hire is ensuring you advertise both your job and the company properly to ensure a good range and quality of candidates will apply.

Indeed, proper advertisement entails a number of important factors. Firstly, you or your HR department needs to establish a good job brief to present to prospective candidates. It is crucial to outline clearly the job responsibilities, experience required, desired skill-set, tasks to be undertaken in the role, remuneration and time-scale of the position.

Secondly, consider where your desired demographic of candidate will come across job listings and then attack this field with purpose; having allocated resources, time and funds to the talent search. Whether through social media, a recruitment agency, online job boards, traditional printed adverts or conference appearances, make sure your company and your job gets noticed. If your job advert only has a small reach don’t assume top level candidates will be walking through your door anytime soon.

It is also worth noting that as soon as a candidate takes any kind of interest in your role, their more than likely first port of call will be the company website. While it is worth including some information on the company within the job description, the website and particularly the careers page needs to sell the company’s culture to the client through informative videos, introducing the existing team and benefits associated with working for the company.

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  1. Read the Candidate’s CV and prepare for interview

It may sound appallingly obvious but it never ceases to amaze me how many employers fail to read a candidate’s CV thoroughly before interview. The CV is your first entry point to a candidate in terms of assessing their suitability for the role, the skills they possess and past experience. Equally most good CVs will offer a few interesting nuggets which can be used to break any ice floating about during the early stages of an interview.

If you’re serious about hiring someone, spend time looking at what a candidates has to say about themselves and take down notes so you look prepared and professional at interview. Have specific questions regarding their CV lined up; ask about their greatest successes within previous roles, what they learnt from past experiences and what evidence they have to show that they will be suitable for your company and the specific role.

  1. Go beyond the questions candidates will be expecting and avoid clichés

While attempting to unnerve potential employees during interview with curve-ball questions; ‘If you were to compare yourself to an animal, what would you be?’ may produce some entertaining answers, do they actually help in building a rounded picture of the candidates capabilities or just a glimpse at how quick witted they can be?

Equally does a candidate trotting out pre-prepared answers to inevitable questions; ‘Why should we hire you?’, ‘What experience do you have?’, ‘Why do you want this job?’ actually tell you much about their personality and how well they will fit into the company?

As in all walks of life, a balance needs to be struck during the interview process; basic facts and motivations need to be established and rapport built through more light hearted conversation. This aside, a prospective employee should never walk away from interview without at some stage feeling like they have really been tested.

Don’t accept vague assertions regarding prior experience or skills they claim to possess, push to see whether candidates were really successful rather than just ‘experience sponges’ and look for them to support claims of skill or excellence. Any jack of clubs can string out a list of buzz words perceived as desirable by employers, ‘hardworking, organised, passionate and a team-player’ – follow up these claims to see what evidence can be offered to support their case if none is immediately forthcoming.

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  1. Conduct a thorough Background Check* into the Candidate*

Whether this is carried out in house or through a professional background checking service, it is worth verifying details and information offered by a candidate. Both during the interview process and within their resume, a prospective employee is unlikely to reveal any of their weaknesses, cover-ups or past failures.

Indeed when surveyed, 76% of current employees admitted that their resumes contained false information when they were hired. Employers must realise that will almost always have to go beyond the interview process and CV to ensure their candidate is suitable.

  1. Have a trial Period

Despite an employer’s best efforts, it can be genuinely hard to predict how successfully a new employee will adapt to their new role and team; the real acid test only comes when the job begins.

Consequently a trial period allows both the employee and employer to assess how suitable they are within the business without over-committing. Set a review date for a suitable period of time (this tends to be around 3 months for a full time post or shorter for less permanent positions) and then discuss progress thoroughly.

When the juncture is released neither party should be shy to raise concerns or problems. As an employer, if the candidate has not performed as planned during the trial period you have every right to either withdraw a longer-term job offer or set another review date while emphasising the need for improvement during this period.

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And as a little taster of what’s to come next week, here’s David Brent with possibly one of the worst (but at the same time most hilarious) job interviews of all time… at least he sets a review period.

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Ed is Head of Operations at Onfido - that is to say he co-ordinates all the magic that happens here behind the scenes! In his spare time he's a semi-professional DJ and event organiser!
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