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Recruitment can be like a day at the races.


WHAT a fantastic day I had recently at Newcastle Racecourse and the Beeswing Ladies Day event. It truly took my breath away to see the crowds in all their finery. The outfits varied from "fantastic" to "not your best look dear". Shame no one tipped me off about which horses to back.

During a more reflective moment, sipping on my Pimms between races, it struck me that there are a number of similarities between a day such as this and recruiting.

When you recruit you are taking something of a gamble. You do your best to stack the odds in your favour but then the runners and riders (candidates) are doing exactly the same. What you see on interview day is, as you would expect, the interviewee in their smartest turnout, on best behaviour and presenting what you want to see and hopefully for them to hear. They want you to back them based on what you see in the parade ring.

There's a little more science in the recruitment process than my rather unsuccessful betting at the weekend but nevertheless it is still a gamble. Recruiting the right candidate is not easy and dealing with the outcomes if it goes wrong can cost rather more than a pounds 5 each way bet, especially if you have to pay for recruitment consultants.

So how do you back a winner? Start at the beginning and make sure the job description is detailed and clear and appropriate for the role.

Advertise the role where you would expect the best candidates to look. Use your social media networks, own staff and contacts who know your business.

Don't be afraid to put candidates on the spot in interviews. Whilst it can be good practice to put a nervous interviewee at their ease you're unlikely to learn much by being passive throughout the interview. Ask searching questions relevant to the role to test experience, knowledge and how they would cope in a situation requiring them to think on their feet.

It is relatively straightforward to check off academic and career achievements but what really makes the business run effectively are teams of employees who are engaged, enthusiastic, motivated and prepared to put in a shift for others. So think about the balance of the team. High on the list of requirements should be a good score for emotional intelligence. Often overlooked by some as it can be seen as too subjective an area but take the time to consider their responses to questions, body language, micro expressions and overall communication skills.

Don't get carried away with other factors that have no relevance to the job. Someone's physical appearance, humour or who they know might make them somebody you'd like to socialise with but not the right candidate for the job. Keep the focus on the job.

A good horse at the National is pretty useless in the Derby or Goodwood.

Over time what you look for is to back more winners than losers and if you do you'll not go far wrong.

It's just as well I'm a better lawyer than I am a tipster, I think one of my horses is still running. But I'll certainly be back for the Beeswing next year, what a cracking day!

If you have a legal problem you'd like me to discuss a particular topic please drop me a line at or tweet @samplaw_hr
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Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2011
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