Recruiting and Hiring

Recruiting candidates who are the right fit for your organization can be challenging.  A person may have the education and training, but not the right personality.  Some people are good at presenting themselves in interviews, but may not be as well qualified as less polished individuals.  Others would be excellent employees, but don’t know how to sell themselves.  Interviewers may have personal biases that prevent them from recognizing the attributes of good candidates.

Define the Job

Defining the job means more than just picking a title and advertising for an open position.  What are the most important tasks and projects you require of this job? What education, experience, and attributes are important?   What skills can be easily taught if the candidate does not have them?  What are bona fide occupational requirements, and what accommodation can be made for a person with a disability? What is the work environment like (e.g. do you need someone who thrives in a noisy, open atmosphere, or someone who works well in a quiet, enclosed area?)  If you are replacing someone, what aspects of that person’s work would you like to see in your new employee, and what would you like to improve upon?  Incorporate all of this information into a job description, and you will know what you are looking for.

Where To Look

Identify your potential talent pool: where are you most likely to find the candidates you want? How will you reach them?  You might consider the following:

  •          university or college job boards
  •          advertisements in trade publications
  •         Human Resource Development Canada’s job posting site
  •         Facebook, Linkedin, and similar sites
  •         on-line job boards such as Workopolis or Monster
  •         referrals from current employees (consider offering a referral bonus)
  •         many newspapers offer an on-line placement in addition to a print ad
  •         employment agencies

Whichever means you select, how will you handle applications?  The internet, for example, is a great way to reach many people, but you can also be swamped with responses, often from people who are not qualified for the job.   How will you screen resumes and select the candidates you want to interview?  Job boards include software that helps you to screen using key words, and on-line recruiting sofware is available through companies like Taleo-Recruitsoft.

Recruitment Agencies 

Alternatively, you may work with a good recruitment agency, and let them do the leg-work for you, but only after you have done your homework.  The more information you can provide the agency, the better they will be at presenting candidates that meet your expectations.  There are many agencies out there: from the big multinationals to the individuals working from home.  Do your homework and make sure you find someone you trust, and with whom you are comfortable working.  You may deal with different agencies depending on their expertise (Finance, Sales, etc.).  Some people like to involve more than one agency, hoping to reach more candidates.  My preference is to work with one person I trust.  That person becomes an extension of my business: (s)he knows the jobs, the environment, and the kind of candidate who would be a good fit, and (s)he makes my search a priority.   As well, the more agencies I use, the more I have to be involved in keeping track of the agencies and candidates.  When selecting an agency, make sure you know whether they work on consignment or contingency.   If on consignment, you pay a fee to hire the agency to do a search.  Those who work on contingency don’t get paid unless you hire one of their candidates.  There are advantages to both, but generally the more senior the position you have to fill, the more difficult the search will be and the more likely you will want to hire an agency on consignment. 


The more screening you can do up-front, the shorter the list of candidates you will need to interview.  At some stage you will end up with a number of people you want to meet, to discuss their suitability for the job.   In the interviews, you want to find out as much as possible about each person, and you want to have an objective means of comparing them.  This is where your initial job analysis comes in handy again.  A Behavioural Interview and a skills and attributes checklist will help here.  Develop questions that elicit information about the candidates’ previous experience and behaviours, and probe for additional information.  For example, if you want someone who is a good problem-solver, you might ask the candidates to tell you about the most difficult problem they have encountered at work.  Then, ask additional questions to probe for more.  For example: what made it so difficult for you?  How did you approach the solution?  Who did you depend on for advice?  What did you learn from that experience?  How might you have approached it differently?   Make notes, or checkmarks on your checklist, as you hear the answers that suggest competency in this area.  To be fair, and to make your job easier, every candidate should be asked exactly the same questions, and in the same order. 

Don’t ask questions unrelated to the job requirements, as some questions may be interpreted as discriminatory.  Remember, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.  Even a simple, innocent enquiry can be interpreted as discriminatory.  For example, if a candidate says (s)he has to leave in time to pick up a child, don’t say “oh, how old is your son/daughter?”  Your enquiry may be very innocent, but if the person doesn’t get the job, (s)he may have the impression that you discriminated on the basis of family status.   It is all right to ask a question like “will you be available to work overtime on short notice?” if that is an expectation of the job.

You may want to have more than one interviewer, and have each person focus on certain qualifications or qualities. 

Selecting the Right Person

Don’t be in a hurry to fill the position.   When you have identified one or two top candidates, bring them back for another interview.  Have someone else interview them; have the finalists meet the work group, and get feedback from their potential peers, who may know the job requirements better than you do.  If you are not sure that any of the candidates meets your needs, don’t be afraid to start over.  Keep candidates informed of the process: “we are conducting initial interviews this week: if you are selected for a second interview, you should hear from us by ….:”

Making an Offer

When you have made your selection, offer the position verbally, but follow up with a written offer.  Make sure the written offer is the same as what you have conveyed verbally, and make sure it is accurate.  The written offer will form part of the employment contract, so if anything is missing, or incorrect, fix it before the candidate formally accepts the offer.   

 When you have filled the position, it is common courtesy to contact those who have had an interview and advise them.  You are not obliged to tell them why they were not selected.  Say something like: “Thank you for meeting with us to discuss the X position.  While we were very impressed with your qualifications, we have now selected a candidate who appears to be a better fit at this time.”

NOTE:  It is suggested that all resume’s and documentation be kept for two years.

Contents © Human Resources by Pam Urie
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