Recruitment advice

Hiring staff is an important process for any manager or employer. Of course, there are many ways to go about it and to ensure that you get the right person for the position.

The first step is to have a complete understanding of all the tasks and responsibilities associated with the role and what level of experience is necessary to complete them. Are you hiring just to work through a busy period or are you growing the business and are looking to train up a new recruit?


University graduates have the latest theory, but usually lack industry experience. If you wish to take on a graduate, perhaps appoint a more senior member of staff to act as a mentor to teach the newbie how things work in the ‘real world’ and the application of their knowledge.

Nine times out to 10, graduates are ambitious and expect their skills and knowledge to take them places, quickly. If you have a structured graduate or training programme with a career-development path, employing a graduate could be a good idea.

Junior employee

Typically, this person has just left school and has little work experience. Do you want a permanent employee, full time or part time? You can recruit yourself or enlist the services of a recruitment agency.

If the position is temporary, you could advertise it as contract role for a specific number of months. Alternatively, you can use an agency who hires staff out for an hourly rate.

When you decide to go through the process of taking on a new member of staff, you will need to decide whether to recruit through an agency, or to recruit yourself using internal resources. Using a recruitment agency certainly has its advantages but you may prefer to do things yourself. Here are some of the pros and cons of both options:

Approaches to hiring

If you decide to do the hiring yourself, you are in complete control of the process and can review all the applicants. There are also no recruitment fees.

The flip side of the coin is that the process takes time, the number of candidates is limited and it may take longer to find the right person.

A personnel agency, on the other hand, has access to more candidates and can source those with the right skills sets through their networks.

Of course, you have to invest time with the company to ensure they understand your needs, and you pay a fee.

Whatever the route taken, an accurate job description is the essential first step. This would typically include job title, location, short profile of company, summary of position and associated duties, and the qualifications, skills and experience required.

The job advertisement should include job title, location, salary, advantages to the recruit of working for the company, job responsibilities, how to apply and closing date for applications.

The advert can be placed in a local newspaper, online (search for industry-specific online notice boards), through the company website or newsletter or on your Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn listing.

The interview

Some suggestions for a successful candidate interview:

  • Compile questions, leaving space for making notes on the answers
  • These questions should reveal as much information as possible on the candidates’ experiences
  • Steer clear of questions attracting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. ‘Tell me about a difficult work situation you have experienced and how you coped?’ is better than ‘Are you a team player?’
  • Make candidates feel relaxed and they will be more forthcoming.
  • Explain the reasons behind your questions in terms of the information you are seeking.
  • Invite candidates to question you.
  • If there is a psychometric test available, bring in some questions about this.

On the, Christian Twardawa, chief operating officer at Paessler, offers the following advice on finding good employees...

Good products

It might sound simplistic, but it is often overlooked: good products and services are the foundation for attracting employees. No one really wants to work at a company with poor products or services. It isn't something you can talk about with your friends. "You work there? Isn't the product getting bad reviews lately?" Of course, you'll find people that have to work for you, but they're not the type of employees you need to grow your company.

Attractive workplace

The average full-time worker spends eight to ten hours per day at work. That means he or she spends more active time at work than at home. One would think that employers would make every effort to make the workplace a place that employees will be comfortable at and want to go to.

Far from it. Many companies inhabit dull, boring buildings and take little to no care in decorating the office space. Of course, you can argue that not everyone can afford high-end locations or designer furnishings are too expensive. And you're right, that isn't necessary. Boring office buildings dominate 'high-end' locations, anyway. Why not move into an old factory or 'art nouveau' building? Great furniture doesn't have to be expensive, either. Let your staff pick it out, especially if they have a flair for design.

What else makes a workplace attractive? At Paessler AG, soft drinks, coffee, sweets and fruit are free, and we even have a shower, with free towels service, as well as a relaxation room with lounge chairs. Of course, staff can bring their own drinks and snacks, but most of them don't, which leaves them dehydrated. Even compared with the added costs for the company, this has a huge "wow" effect for employees.


I don't just mean flexible work times, although I did learn the hard way that forcing software developers to work from nine to five is not productive. Many of our developers do work during these times, but it's just a coincidence determined by their preferences. If someone programs better between 11:00 am and 21:00, then he or she needs to be free to work during those times instead of the typical nine to five.

Our marketing and sales staff work during regular office hours. Sales staff that work better later either have the wrong job or should be assigned different time zones. If the circadian rhythm calls for a break, our relaxation room, with luxurious lounge chairs, is ready and waiting.

Flexibility isn't restricted to time for us; if you're waiting on your plumber or an important package, we offer the opportunity for our staff to work remotely (although I generally do not like home-office workspaces). I'm sure you can think of other ways to organise your work times specifically suited to your products and services as well.


If an employer dictates every crossed "t" and dotted "i" he can't be surprised to find himself surrounded by staff who work to the minimum and don't think for themselves. What he needs are employees that are willing, vicarious agents in order to maintain the status quo. However, this attitude doesn't help a company grow.

Entrepreneurial employers, however, recognize the potential in their employees and encourage and challenge them accordingly in their assignments. An employee who is able to take on responsibility, develop ideas and make contributions to the company tends to be more driven and intent on its success than an employee who is given neither freedom nor responsibility. Each employer has to decide how this culture of responsibility can be implemented in his company.

At Paessler AG, this is implemented through horizontal organization, broad areas of responsibility and 'long leashes’. We also have an 'employee of the month' programme, although it's rather a witty, exaggerated honour for individual performances. You might even work with your staff to determine the best way to get employees involved to take on responsibility.

Appeal to your staff's social network

Every company must know by now, especially with the uprising of social networking, that the average employee doesn't just work, eat and sleep. Most spend a hefty dose of their free time with friends and acquaintances who, in turn, pursue a variety of different careers. If I have convinced my staff of myself and my company with a good product, an attractive workplace, flexible work times and a job with high personal responsibility, I can assume that their real or virtual networks only hear the best about me and my company, and that they'll tell qualified applicants about the company. In the best-case scenario, you have a new employee served to you on a silver platter — and recruiting and recommendation didn't cost you a cent!

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