Research shows that more than 50% of recruitment costs are indirect and that average cost of hiring a new employee in the UK is around £5,300. What’s more, the average interview takes 30 minutes with the recruiter doing 70% of the talking and the average time spent looking at a CV is 5-7 seconds. For many small businesses, effective recruitment is a minefield.

Here are our tips on how to get it right first time:

Job analysis

Create an accurate job description, what do you want this person to do? What background or skills do the need? What is the level of responsibility? Be clear on what you need; a vague advert calling for an ‘all-rounder’ is likely to give you a flurry of applications, but take up considerable time to process.

Create an advert

Decide on salary and include it. This will help you find the right level of candidate, save you time on irrelevant applications and help with being found on online job searches. According to Reed, two in three job seekers are more likely to apply for a role if they can see the salary. Make sure you are paying above the National Minimum Wage. Consider if you will be paying bonus, commission or any other benefits. Think about what you pay other employees and make sure it’s ‘in-line’.


Don’t forget, a job advert is your chance to showcase your business. You need to remember you are selling the role to the candidate, and not the other way around. Be careful not to use any discriminatory language in your advert – have a look at our checker to make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

Consider where you will advertise. There are numerous options including:

  • General websites, e.g. Monster, Reed, Total jobs etc.
  • Industry specific – e.g. The Caterer for hospitality roles.
  • Social media – Facebook & Twitter
  • LinkedIn – mainly professional roles
  • Web Groups – e.g. Net mums

Read our guidance on creating the perfect recruitment advert.

Shortlist candidates (telephone / video interview)

Screening candidates via a telephone interview can help you refine your shortlist and save you time on first interviews. During a telephone interview, you should ideally:

  • Assess against the person specification
  • Discuss any gaps in employment history
  • Find out where the person lives and likely ease of travel
  • Talk about hobbies and interests
  • Understand the length of service in previous jobs
  • Check that potential overseas applicants have work permits
  • Determine whether they can they work the hours / days you require
  • Set a time and date to hold a screening interview – helps filter out time wasters.

We know that at the moment employers are inundated with CVs and applications, here are some tips on how to deal with multiple applications.

Face to face interview (via video)

Make sure you prepare for the interviews in advance, useful things to think about include:

  • Do they have the right equipment set up / do they need assistance?
  • Do they need to be introduced to the team?
  • How long is the meeting?
  • What will be the next steps?
  • Will you be using other testing techniques e.g. presentation, psychometrics etc?
  • What questions do they have and what benefits/rewards can the company offer?

What to ask

Applicants should be assessed on suitability for the role based on skills only and application process should always be documented. Rejected Applicants can request feedback within three months of their applications and reasonable justification should be provided for their failure to be appointed. Note that applicants should never be rejected for any of the protected characteristics.

Consider different interview techniques, such as competency-based questions. Also known as situational Interviewing – it is a style of interview that asks the candidates to provide evidence of where they have displayed a skill in the past that demonstrates their capabilities.

Competency-based interview questions normally start with:

  • Tell me about a time….
  • Give me an example of when you have….
  • Can you recall a situation when…?

Candidates are prospective employees, but they may also be potential customers their friends or relatives may also be too! Whether they are offered a job or not, the way in which you treat candidates can play an important role in maintaining a favourable and professional company image.

Remember that an interview is a two-way process and the candidate will be selecting you as much as you are selecting them. The golden rule of selection is therefore – TREAT THE CANDIDATE AS A CUSTOMER.

Consider whether you need a second-stage interview to choose the right candidate. To ensure you select the right candidate and have a robust audit trail, you should use a score sheet. If there is more than one interviewer – these should be completed by each person without conferring. The score sheet will help you with the rationale as to why the candidate has been unsuccessful. Remember that any documentation from the interview can be requested by the employee. Here are some tips on 10 questions to avoid.


In order to recruit the right people, you should ensure you have all your staff records up to date and that they are compliant. This is essential to ensure that the business meets legislation:

  • Offer Letter
  • Employee References
  • Contract of Employment
  • Staff Handbook
  • Induction Training
  • Uniform
  • Staff Payroll, right to work in the UK and NOK information
  • Working time Directive

We can help with all aspects of the recruitment process and advise on how to recruit the right people. You may also be interested in our case study on recruiting virtually and our advice on how to onboard new starters remotely