Featured | Hiring

Wizu Talks: 7 tips for hiring the right talent for your business

By Wizu Staff | 19 November 2020

What’s the number one oversight businesses make when hiring? And how do you get the best out of a new starter?

We recently sat down with established entrepreneur and founder of Benchmark, Louisa Harrison-Walker, to answer these questions and more for our Wizu Talks podcast. 

Louisa, known as the ethical recruiter,  is an interim director at The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and the South Yorkshire Regional Advisory Board Chair for leadership development organisation Common Purpose UK.

In the insanely useful chat we got to extract some of Louisa’s 15+ years experience and knowledge of recruiting and retaining the best talent for high profile businesses. 

Here are 7 of our favourite tips from the episode below.

1. Find ways to showcase your human side

If you ever get an email from Louisa, you might spot at the bottom of her email signature it says ‘Childhood ambition: farmer’.

Louisa explained that one of her biggest bugbears of being a recruiter is the reaction she sometimes gets when people learn of her profession. This is, as she says, largely down to a few cowboys in the industry who essentially give the sector a bad rep!

So when Benchmark went through a rebrand 5 years ago, Louisa explained that they used the opportunity to add more of the human side to what they do, to help combat some of the negative stigma around recruitment.

“It’s about humanising you, making people realise you’re a person”.

To do this in a way that ties into what they do as a business, which is fulfilling people’s career aspirations, the entire team added their childhood ambitions to their email signature and their business cards (plus a cute childhood photo!). A simple but effective personal touch and one that Louisa explains, not only humanises them, but makes them stand out.

2. Stop writing boring job descriptions

If you want to hire the best talent then stop writing boring job descriptions! 

Often an afterthought, job descriptions should be seen as a key sales piece for attracting the type of person you want to hire. It should be used to explain the why – why the company exists, what problems they solve for customers and how a potential candidate can help play a part in helping them do that. Speak in exciting language rather than creating a robotic standard list of requirements, and you’ll likely start seeing the right applicants.

3. Uncover their management style and ability to adapt 

A good way to uncover someone’s preferred management style in an interview is to ask them who their best boss was and why, as this will give you insights into what leadership and management style suits them best.

And if you want to find how adaptive they are and sensitive to change, ask them about what aspects of their existing and previous roles they enjoyed and which they didn’t enjoy. This should tell you if they prefer a more structured environment or one that’s constantly adapting and changing.

4. Don’t make this #1 oversight in hiring

Louisa explained that one of the biggest oversights people have when hiring is culture fit.

People don’t always realise that someone could be brilliantly skilled at their job, but even with all the will in the world and training, if someone doesn’t feel like they quite fit in with the team then it will likely never work out.

Louisa recommendations getting an outside opinion to understand your culture. When her team is hiring they make a point to get under the skin of a company’s culture. To meet the owners, line managers, and team members to get an independent understanding of how things are run and see the culture in a way they don’t see it – because they’re in it every day. This then translates into a better description of the company culture which in turn will help attract the right fit for the company.

5. Your benefits could be losing you talent

It’s not all about the salary. Benefits are more important than ever now, especially for the younger generation who are keen to seek out a better work-life balance. Many companies lose out to great talent (particularly in areas where there’s a skill shortage) by not investing in their benefits offering. 

Everything from flexibility around working hours to wellness benefits like cycle to work schemes and gym memberships – Louisa recommends taking a look at your benefits package and considering how competitive you are.

6. Don’t let them tell you, let them show you

Louisa explains that one of the best and most efficient ways to scope out how suited someone is for a role is through group interviews.

Whilst they can seem daunting, organised efficiently, group interviews are an excellent way to see first hand how well candidates work in a team and how good they are at tackling problems. Rather than someone telling you they can do the job, this method let’s them show you. Pretty quickly you’ll be able to see who would be comfortable presenting to a client, who connects well with others and ultimately who’s the best person (or persons!) for the job.

In the traditional interview route you’re spending weeks doing various rounds of interviews, often meaning you lose out on good talent along the way. But when you take the group interview approach you get the talent you’re looking for faster. In fact, in a recent group interview session which Louisa’s team organised for a European robotics firm, they were able to appoint 3 great people in just 3 hours. These employees then went into their new roles having already formed bonds with the other successful candidates – which gives you the added bonus of improving retention!

7. Get new employees to be the customer

When a new hire starts, it can be common for businesses to ask them to shadow different departments so they can understand how different teams work, the various internal processes and what the company offers. It’s generally accepted that the more they understand the company and see the bigger picture, the better they’ll be at their job.

Louisa recommends you go a step further here and actually ask your new starters to be the customer. To go through the customer journey from start to finish – from finding your website online to going through the customer onboarding process. Getting this outsider view whilst someone is new is a great way to spot opportunities to improve the business!

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