Recruitment can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so it’s important to find the best people you can to join your team the first-time round.
I’ve turned to Practice Management expert Dominika Sieradzka for some sound advice to pass on to you.
Building a better team
Recruitment can be difficult to get right. For smaller firms in particular, cost and time sensitivity mean it can be tempting to cut corners when finding team members. However, in the long run, taking shortcuts typically results in a bad hire with even higher costs and substantially more time and energy taken up, than if a methodical recruitment process had been followed in the first instance.
It goes without saying that there should be a multi-stage recruitment process in place that is followed consistently. This provides a fair opportunity to all candidates, creates a solid benchmark, and removes reliance on your ‘gut feelings’.
Here are a few tips to help you find good quality people.
1. Have a well thought out job specification
This is essential. Yet most firms try to skip this step or do it quickly and badly. The job specification should define:
- The requirements of the role and your organisation
- The skills, qualifications, experience and other qualities of your ideal candidate
Doing this step thoroughly helps you judge potential candidates objectively against your set criteria. It will also, at least partially, eliminate unsuitable individuals.
Creating a job specification is an opportunity to truly consider whether the specification reflects your organisational needs and requirements. As your business evolves the roles evolve too, so it is good to review your organisational structure and job specifications often to keep them current.
Finally, avoid creating job specifications that are made up of ‘hybrid roles’. For example, it’s very rare for an excellent Paraplanner to be an excellent Practice Manager at the same time. These two roles have different requirements. In addition, ‘hybrid roles’ may result in accountability issues further down the road, which in turn create challenges for fair appraisals.
2. Use screening telephone interviews
As part of any multi-stage recruitment process I recommend including a screening telephone interview (undertaken only once you feel happy a CV meets your set criteria from the job), which can be a great time saver for all involved.
Take 20-30 minutes to quickly assess if the candidate is truly suitable to proceed to a face-to-face interview. This works best with a mixture of 10 to 15 behavioural and personality questions.
- Tell me about a time when your work required extreme attention to detail and accuracy
- Can you give me an example of how you go about organising your day?
- Tell me what your ideal working environment would be like
- What motivates you to go that extra mile?
Telephone interviews are a great time saver if used in a structured way and allow you to screen candidates in a fair and consistent manner. There is also an added bonus of getting a feel for the candidate’s telephone manner.
Further interrogation with references to a candidate’s CV is best undertaken in the face-to-face meeting.
3. Use psychometric tools
It’s important for any new members of staff to fit in with the rest of the team. This is particularly important in smaller businesses where personality clashes can create a difficult working environment. It is also very important that potential candidates have ethics and values aligned with those of the organisation. It’s relatively easy to deal with a knowledge gap or lack of experience through training, however it’s almost impossible to change someone’s underlying ethics or values.
This is where psychometric tools can help in getting to know candidates and their potential fit within your organisation and the rest of the team.
Every tool has its limitations. As such, test results shouldn’t be viewed as 100% accurate, but they can provide some great insights and a relatively reliable assessment of a likely fit.
There are numerous tools that can be considered. Here are a couple I like:
Good&Co – A highly engaging, user-friendly and easy-to-interpret tool. I suggest downloading the mobile app (be warned this can be addictive!)
Kolbe Index – For a more traditional solution you may wish to familiarise yourself with this tool, which is widely used in the world of consulting.
4. Test technical abilities
It is always a good idea to test a candidate’s relevant technical abilities. You may wish to use standard numeric, accuracy and spelling tests, but it’s also important to assess role-specific abilities.
For example, if recruiting a Paraplanner, I suggest designing a case study based on a recent difficult piece of work you have undertaken. The benefit of creating your own case study, over using a template, is that you and your team have put time and energy into this specific case and considered all possible angles to ensure best client outcomes. You will have a clear idea of the answers you would want from your ‘ideal’ Paraplanner and how you would want them to approach the subject.
Similarly, if looking to recruit an ‘ideal’ Practice Manager, create a case study based on firm-specific challenges. For example, implementation of a new back-office system.
Choosing an area(s) that you have given a lot of thought means you have greater insight into interviewee answers.
- How would you go about making improvements to business processes/procedures and their roll out?
- How would you help the team adjust to change?
- How would you monitor the roll out of any revised processes to ensure success?
If, after the interview you are left feeling impressed and inspired, chances are you have found the right person. You can then invite them for the second face-to-face interview, introducing them to other members of the team to get further insights.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of your brand and the overall package you offer
Your brand is an important factor if you want to attract good quality candidates. It’s important to work on it on an ongoing basis. You don’t need to be an international corporation to have a great brand. You can be recognised for professionalism and high-quality financial planning in your local area.
Your brand should accurately reflect the values and culture of your organisation to attract like-minded individuals. Even if you can’t compete in terms of salary with other financial planning practices looking to recruit, you can still distinguish your firm as a great place to work.
Make the best possible use of staff benefits (not just basic salary or pension contributions) to attract candidates. For example, if in your interview process you identified that your ‘ideal’ candidate values time off as they love to travel, you might offer an extended holiday entitlement.
Finally, don’t forget that managing your brand is also about ensuring that every individual you meet has a great experience, regardless of the eventual outcome. This applies to prospective employees, as well as clients.
Hire with purpose
If you want to build a great business, you have to build a great team around you. That means being able to identify, attract, and retain good quality people. If you can follow these five important steps with every position you hire for, you’ll increase your chances of success dramatically.
When it comes to recruitment, “Measure twice, cut once.” is the mantra.
I hope these tips help you improve your recruitment efforts.
Dominika Sieradzka is an experienced Freelance Business & Operations Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry. She’s skilled in enhancing Business Process, Practice Management, Strategic Planning, and Change Management. She also combines a strong background in operations with a PhD in Psychology.