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Recruitment - most of you won't like this.

This is written from an employer’s perspective which will win me few friends, but we have a voice and it needs to be heard. Forget anything else; recruitment continues to be the biggest risk to any growing organisation. Of all that could go bad, how can that be?

The fact that an organisation is growing suggests they have already got good people on board, do many things right and that in turn infers that many obvious risks are in check. However, through growth there are times when we need to recruit, we need to do so quickly and that is when rigour falls short and poor decisions are made, we end up with a problem which we could have avoided.

Getting the wrong people on-board can prove destructive and ruin a lot of what has been built up over a considerable period. Correcting the situation is a distraction that soaks up a lot of time, resource and energy and with few exceptions, there is seldom a turn around in fortunes.

There tends to be no winners, but as an employer you have little option but to navigate through a minefield of legislation and protocol, otherwise you will end up defending your position at an employment tribunal, which brings its own challenges.

What is also easy to forget through all this, is that benefits expected from the original hire are not forthcoming and in fact we end up worse off, due to the amount of resources and time spent addressing the hire problem, rather than on something positive for the business.

In our business we developed and implemented systems to demonstrate compliance to regulators across many sectors in over 90 countries and in doing so needed a mix of skills and character sets to deliver the technical, operational and commercial aspects to make the business work. It was very varied, and one skill set or personality trait did not fit all, so we were somewhat limited to standardising how we recruited.

Now, I have interviewed and hired hundreds of people into growing businesses over the last 25 years and in trying to minimise the wrong hire risk, have adopted the following 3 disciplines in the recruitment process.

1. Assess Fit First

First and foremost, we need people that can fit into the organisation / department / team and whose skills and experience would complement and add value to whatever service we provide.

When I look back at troublesome hires from the past, I can’t recall anyone being totally incompetent, but I do remember some who were gifted technically but un-reliable, difficult, self-centred and generally a nightmare to work with.

My learning from that is we need less emphasis on competence at first interview and a total focus on fit to try and determine where their abilities, experience and inter-personal skills could be of benefit within the organisation.

I use MindGenius Online to manage our recruitment process and there is a template of questions I use at first interviews to help me assess who I have in front of me.

One of the key aspects of this template is a self-assessment by candidates of how they view themselves relative to 50 key attributes like leadership, competitiveness, curiosity, inventiveness, etc. They are asked to score 1 for “naturally not me” up to 4, “definitely me”. Deliberately 4 options, eliminating fence sitting.

2. Role

In my opinion the biggest mistake in recruitment is in hiring someone for a role, particularly if it is a direct replacement for a leaver. Someone leaving is a great opportunity to review closely what the business needs in that function going forward and its seldom a clone of whoever was there before.

If you are of the opinion this person you are interviewing could be an asset to the organisation it’s a case of determining whether you can justify a role that would be of interest to them and of benefit to you. It sounds straight forward but care is needed not to kill aspiration elsewhere in the team in recruiting externally into the new role. You need to be fair and assess existing employees relative to the newly defined role and decide if your external hire is still the best call.

3. Induction

A structured induction program addressing onboarding activities from pre-arrival through to end of year one is essential to help instil the values of your organisation into the new recruit.

They need to understand why you are in business, the challenges customers have and how we help address those. They need to understand their function within their department and the wider organisation.

They need to be carefully nurtured to give them the best chance of being successful in their role which is why I suggest a tailored onboarding plan is prepared for each employee.

There is a MindGenius Online template available addressing onboarding.


Recruitment is tricky and can lead to problems if not managed correctly. The 3 suggestions above will help you reduce the risk of getting it wrong and increase the chances of you having a happy contented workforce.

MindGenius Online has a built in recruitment template to help you scope out the requirements for a position, assess applicants suitability for a role based on the requirements and track progress of interviews and job offers.

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