Andy Hague, Managing Director of Croner - sponsor of the Employer of the Year award – offers some handy hints and tips on recruiting for growing businesses

So you’ve been running your business as lean as possible and doing everything yourself, but it has finally reached the point where, in order to remain competitive and prosper, you need a helping hand. So what should entrepreneur’s be thinking about when the time has come to hire in help?

Recruitment for growing businesses is a core activity and identifying the most suitable candidate for a particular job will be an important step in ensuring effective performance, team working and productivity. Getting it wrong on the other hand can cost the organisation dear in terms of money, wasted time and effort and the disruption that an under-performing or badly performing employee can create.

Job descriptions

It is essential that you have an accurate job description at the start of the recruitment process. The things that should be considered are the job’s purpose and outputs, its key result areas, tasks and duties. At this stage no thought should be given to the kind of person who will be required or the way the duties will be carried out, otherwise invalid assumptions may insinuate their way into the process.

A person specification details the knowledge, skills and experience that a post holder will need to have and to what level they will need to have them, in order to fulfil the key duties and responsibilities outlined in the job description.

Advertising for candidates

A job ad is your chance to attract the people that will share your vision and contribute to the success of the business, so it is really important that they are well written.

Consider matters such as the cost, the speed, the reach, and how best to attract quality candidates, rather than trying to generate a large quantity of responses. Alongside traditional sources such as print and agencies, there are now online job boards and social media sites such as LinkedIn which are equally effective.

Just a word of caution, when writing ad make sure that they do not contain words or images that express an intention to discriminate or suggest a preference for people from a particular group.


Shortlisting should be undertaken consistently and against the objective criteria set out in the job description and person specification. It is important to note that if you decide not to shortlist an applicant it can be challenged under discrimination law at an employment tribunal. It is advisable then to keep a record of the criteria which job applicants are shortlisted for.

Conducting successful interviews

So you’ve found a few candidates that on paper look as if they could fit in with your business. Now is the time to invite them in so that you can meet them face-to-face to see how they match up in person.

Interviews shouldn’t be done off the hoof – it is essential that it is structured and designed around the criteria in the person specification and which focuses on a candidate’s competencies.

Have a read through all supporting documentation such as the job description ahead of the interview. In addition prepare a framework of interview question, some of which, e.g. job-related technical questions, will be standard for all applicants, while others will be relevant only to one applicant.

Selecting the right

Although chemistry is important it shouldn’t influence completely your decision to hire someone. Selection should be carried out on the basis of the candidates’ relevant skills, experience, knowledge, qualifications and competencies, as measured against the criteria defined in the person specification.

If the criteria have been clearly and objectively defined at the outset of the recruitment exercise and, provided they have been applied objectively to all the candidates, the selection process should be straightforward. It will be a question of selecting the candidate whose background most closely matches the defined criteria, ideally measured by using a points system.

The final selection decision must be made without regard to sex, race, religion or belief, actual or perceived sexual orientation, age or (unless justified) disability. Sex discrimination includes marital status and pregnancy, so it is unlawful to reject a candidate on the sole grounds of pregnancy.

Making an offer

So you have the right person for the job and want to make an offer. At this point there are several factors that need to be considered including the terms of the offer, remuneration package and whether it is conditional or dependant on further information being provided such as references and whether the candidate has the right to work in the UK.

Hopefully the person you want is ready, willing and able to take up the post. Then even more employment rules kick in which is probably best saved for another time!

Shortlisting has begun for the National Business Awards 2012, with finalists due to be announced for categories including Croner Employer of the Year on 14th August. Visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for information about last year’s winners and finalists. To find out more about the Ceremony, and how to reserve places, call the NBA Award Team on 0207 234 8755.