Recruiting the right people (Part 5 of 5)

Step 4: Interviews

When screening candidates in order to select which ones to invite for an interview, Assured Bookkeeping Solutions uses application forms to standardise the process. When interviewing the chosen candidates, we ensure standardisation by using the same questions for all of the candidates. I was surprised to learn that not all businesses do so, and I would like to ask them how they are able to carry out a like-for-like comparison between all of the interviewed candidates. Surely a standardised approach would make their lives easier.

I like to think that, although I ask candidates some very tough questions, I compensate by making the atmosphere as relaxed as possible, whilst maintaining a professional approach. I like to mix up the order of my questions, rather than keeping them structured. I believe that when combined with some tough questions in a relaxed environment it makes honest answering of the questions more likely.

I suggest that your interview questions are designed to find out how much the candidates want to work for your company, their skills, their ability to do the job excellently, and, importantly their personality – you are, after all, employing a person, not a robot!

It is important to me that the candidate is able to ask as many questions as they want at the end of the interview. They need to walk away from the interview clear in their mind whether or not they want to work for Assured Bookkeeping Solutions. Remember that we

Sometimes candidates can come armed with a lot of questions!

are looking for long-lasting relationships with the people that we employ, so for that reason, I always answer truthfully – even if it is an answer that the candidate does not want to hear!

Depending how many candidates you interview, you may wish to invite some of them back for a second interview. Personally, I try to keep the number of interviews low so that I don’t need second interviews. I prefer to use the second meeting with the shortlisted candidates as the opportunity to test them!

Step 5: Testing

Like me, do you sometimes get the feeling that people can ‘talk the talk’ during an interview, but you don’t know if they can ‘walk the walk’? If so, why not test them? Are there any tests that you could use – or create – that apply to the role that you are trying to fill? For example, we have a manual bookkeeping test that we use to check how good the candidates’ bookkeeping knowledge is, and then we give them a practical test using bookkeeping software.

The personality traits of an employee are an important factor in whether or not they are able to carry out a position well and if they will fit into your team well. Although there is a cost involved, I believe that a psychological profiling test is a crucial tool within our recruitment process. The cost of such tests on, let’s say, the top 3 preferred candidates after the interview stage will pale into insignificance to the costs associated by employing the wrong person, especially here in South Africa, where labour laws are so strongly stacked against employers.

Step 6: Appointment

By this stage you will know a lot about your remaining clients

At this, the final stage of our recruitment process, I will have learnt a lot about the remaining candidates. They came across well on paper in order to make the interviews and then I met them in person and found out more about them during the interviews. Finally, by testing their technical abilities that relate to the role and getting a psychological profile of them, I have a good understanding of how they would actually be able to fulfil the role and fit into the team. It’s a good feeling to have a lot of valuable information with which to be able to make the appointment!

However, before making the appointment, there is one final thing to do – obtaining references for the candidate. Our business coach, who is part of the ActionCOACH network, insists that we carry out telephonic reference checks (even if printed references are provided) for every position held and that we ensure that we talk to the right people at each business – sometimes candidates may ask friends that they worked with to provide references, rather than their manager or supervisor.  There is a strong argument for checking references prior to carrying out interviews, but at the moment we choose to carry out the checks at this stage.

Once the references have been obtained, and assuming that there are no problems, we will make our offer of employment in writing and ensure that our preferred candidate signs and dates both their contract and their job description, upon which they become part of our team!

Making a job offer is a great feeling!

Thankfully I have not yet been in the situation where our recruitment process has not yielded somebody who, if they are not 100% the perfect candidate, are so close that we want to hire them. However, one day I will be in that situation. I like to think that I will be strong enough to avoid the temptation of hiring the wrong person and that instead I would start our recruitment process again. What would you do in that situation?

Thanks for reading this series of 5 articles. I really do hope that sharing some of the recruitment experiences of Assured Bookkeeping Solutions can benefit your business.

Please feel free to leave a comment or two.

Ian Blackburn

About Assured Bookkeeping (Pty) Ltd

Providers of bookkeeping & payroll services, accounting and tax services
This entry was posted in bookkeeping, Recruitment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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