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Managing People

Managing people

Recruiting staff

Do your interviews allow the best candidates to shine?

A clear set of selection criteria and consistent assessment techniques are the best way to get the person you want. Make sure you’re on the right track with these simple steps…


Ideally your shortlist should be no longer than five candidates. Eliminate CVs according to your essential selection criteria. Your final five should meet all your critical requirements. If you can’t narrow it to five, a preliminary telephone interview may help to rule out applicants.

The interview: put your candidate at ease

Begin informally – make your candidate comfortable with some small talk. Give a brief introduction to the role, perhaps asking them what they know about the organisation as a starting point.

Look for their strengths

Remember that the best person for the job may not be the most vocal. It is in your interests to discover the strengths of a reserved or nervous interviewee – use their CV to pick out points of interest. An example might be: “I understand your last role was with Clarke and Morrow. What kind of projects did you oversee?”

Get a clear picture

If the candidate is being vague, try to draw out specifics to see how they relate to the role. Use the five Ws to get precise answers – who, why, when, where or what. ‘What steps did you take to improve the situation?’ ‘When might you apply that experience?’

Stay neutral

You may need to ask some sensitive questions – for instance, when enquiring about a gap in a candidate’s CV. Avoid judgemental statements and make sure your tone is neutral.

Take all sensible measures to avoid legal action. Please note that questions pertaining to relationship status, religious/political affiliations and whether the candidate plans to have children are not suitable and may result in you going to court.

Take notes

Make sure you record points of interest as you may not remember them later.

Provide incentives!

Make sure you emphasise the benefits of the job. If the interviewee is a strong candidate, they will receive other offers. Don’t assume they’ll take the job if you don’t sell its plus points.


Ask the candidate if they have any further questions. This is an excellent chance to see if they’ve researched your company. Lastly, explain when and how candidates will hear if they’ve been successful.

Seek guidance

To make sure you’re up to date with relevant legislation, check with an employment compliance service that you’re doing all you should. See our product and service pages for further details.


Finding the right employee

The right staff are vital to your business. Make sure that when you’re recruiting, you use the best means possible to pick them…

Start with a clear job description

Specify skills, experience and personal qualities. This allows candidates to present themselves effectively, and gives you a checklist to assess them thoroughly.

You may want to distinguish between desirable and essential criteria.

Although salary and benefits will be important to applicants, remember that they may also be motivated by training opportunities, the chance to progress and to take on new responsibilities.


Use word of mouth. Make sure your contacts know you are looking for a new member of staff.

Adverts with national/local press, trade publications and radio can all offer a high response rate. Recruitment agencies, despite high fees, offer a valuable service by saving you the time taken to filter applications.


You should have no more than five candidates in your final shortlist. Only include applications that meet your full list of criteria.

Interviewing techniques

Consider who can best contribute to the selection process and select your interview panel accordingly. Remember that the larger the panel, the greater the pressure on your interviewee.

Your questions should be pertinent to your selection criteria – e.g. “Can you give an example of when you managed a project from start to finish?” Listen to their response attentively and do not interrupt.

Assume nothing, and follow up their responses if you want further information. Ask about inconsistencies in their CV and interview. Assess hard skills with tests if necessary e.g. audio typing, use of computer software.

Use your Selection Criteria

Your business will benefit from a new employee who complements your department and brings the skills you’re looking for. Do not base your decision purely on personal liking.


Verify references before offering the job. Make sure that the information on the CV is confirmed by the reference. Remember, if you suffer loss from employing a person on the basis of a misleading reference, you can take legal action.

Protect Yourself Legally

Some people are automatically entitled to work in the UK. Others may have restrictions on how long they can stay, whether they can work or the type of work they can do.

You should check the entitlement to work in the UK of every worker you plan to employ – regardless of their race, ethnic or national origin, colour or nationality.

If you fail to do this and employ someone who is found to be an illegal worker, you may face a civil penalty, an unlimited fine and/or a criminal conviction if you are found to be knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker.

You can find out more from Business Link at

Seek Guidance

To make sure you’re up to date with relevant legislation, check with an employment compliance service that you’re doing all you should.  See our product and service pages for further details.


Finding the Right Skills

Employees with the right training and expertise can enhance the growth and success of your business

What practical steps can you take to ensure that you can find suitably skilled staff?

Identify your needs

Ask yourself if your needs absolutely require extra staff. There may be more economically viable options for you.

Appreciate the skills you have

Regular staff appraisals will help you identify the skills and ambitions of your current workforce.

Training and encouraging staff development will motivate workers as well as cut down the costs of new recruitment. It will also increase your attractiveness to new recruits who will recognise your commitment to their personal growth.

Existing staff also understand your business and can enable new ideas and processes to be easily integrated into your current procedures.

Cutting training costs

Training can cost money and time. There are a number of options that can help:

Learning and Skills Council/Learndirect – provide financial support, help and advice.

e-learning – available for a wide variety of subjects, online courses can be more easily fitted around work

For more information on e-learning visit our product and service pages.

Maximising investment

Encourage trainees to share their findings with other relevant workers.

Encourage trainees to make positive changes to the way they or the business works based on what they have learnt.


The Benefits of e-Learning

“Whatever business or technical area you want to strengthen, you can access resources as long as you have an Internet connection.”

Keeping your small business going is demanding and varied work!

It’s important to have a wide skills base when you don’t have the resources to hire consultants and third party specialists. And whether you’re pitching to a new client, updating your website or staying on top of invoices, you need confidence in your knowledge and experience. If you don’t have the right training, you can place your business at risk – but fitting in courses can be a drain on working hours and finances.

There is an answer – a cost effective, flexible route to learning. Computer based training (or “e-learning”) is the ideal solution to your training needs.

Training for wherever you are

A range of distance learning services such The Open University, Learndirect and Mindleaders offer all the courses you could wish for. Academic subjects all the way up to postgraduate level, professional training and courses for pleasure are all catered for in a computer based format. Depending on the course you select, you may be accredited with a recognised qualification, or provided with a certificate verifying your course completion.

Whatever business or technical area you want to strengthen, you can access resources and in some cases tuition as long as you have an Internet connection. Many providers issue resources on video and CD-ROMs – while the most sophisticated are available online to download on a subscription basis, keeping files small and allowing you to access them as soon as possible.

Once you’ve enrolled and paid for your course, you are free to access the resources as often as you want.

For small business needs

e-learning is an exciting means of improving your business – whether that be through honing your management skills, learning HTML or getting to grips with accounts. With options available for different levels of experience you can be sure of progressing at a rate suited to your requirements.

Most importantly, its flexibility allows you to train and still meet the demands of your business. You can choose your study hours to suit you – at manageable times, around your work.


Time-saving for businesspeople

Working hard but not getting results? It might take just a few simple changes for your efforts – and those of your staff – to really pay off…

Early to bed and early to rise?

Are you at your best in the morning or evening? If you know when you’re most focused, you can prioritise your work accordingly.

Set proper boundaries

When you need to focus on an important project, delegate call taking and administrative tasks. Make it clear you can not be disturbed.

Overcome the urge to be accommodating – say “no” when requests are unreasonable.

Take time out

The human attention span is approximately 40 minutes. You might want to keep your nose to the grindstone until you’ve finished, but take regular breaks and your mind will be at its most active.

Make the most of modern technology

If you have an urgent task to complete, use voicemail to take your calls, and ask colleagues to forward concerns to you by email which you can respond to at a less pressing time.

Set aside fixed times for checking voicemail and email. Try to keep it to half an hour, and no more than twice a day.


Worry about bothering your staff? Hate losing control of a project? Stuck in old habits? Don’t do work that you could delegate. Your team is there to help your business function – use them.

Enhance your environment

Stale air and too much VDU work could be bad for your health. Make sure your office has efficient ventilation. Prevent headaches and eye strain by using anti-reflection screens. Alternate activities so you can take regular breaks from your PC.

Keep your desk and work equipment organised. Looking for notes on a messy desktop is stressful and wastes time. Your telephone, regularly used files and diary should be within easy reach.

Schedule treats

When you’ve finished a task, do something you enjoy. Whether it’s a bar of chocolate or a night out you can motivate yourself with a reward.

For information of users: This material is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

© Copyright JE Consulting 2012. All rights reserved.