Five steps: avoid hiring the wrong person

1. Look for evidence

Candidates will say what they think you want to hear. Everyone will claim to be 'dependable, hard-working and interested in current affairs' - so press for proof and be specific. Ask for situations where they've demonstrated skills in previous roles. Beware candidates taking credit for team efforts by honing in on their actual role and responsibilities.

Confident and knowledgeable candidates will welcome the opportunity to break from 'interview speak' and showcase their experience and talent, while the blaggers will start to shift nervously in their seat.

Where possible, test technical skills and trial candidates for a day or so.

2. Stick to the job spec

Write a job spec detailing the skills and experience required - and stick to it. Don't give the right person the wrong job. It's a recruiters' market and it's all too tempting to snaffle up talent even if they're not a perfect fit. Don't. If they not suited to the role it won't work for them or you, no matter how much you want them on board. Depending on whether they're over-qualified or just full of promise, they'll either be out of their depth or bored and quickly lose motivation.

3. Interview twice

First impressions count for everything, but second interviews can be revealing. It's a chance to further explore personality, culture fit and reassess gut feeling.

The best candidates will look to build on knowledge they picked up from round one, so beware those that have nothing new to say. Use the opportunity to get a second opinion from colleagues and the team who'll work with the recruit. Change locations to see them in a different environment.

4. How bad do they want it?

Does your candidate want this job or just any job? If someone genuinely wants to work for your business, they will have done their homework - not just read the 'about us' section on your website.

Ask them how they see the company's identity, objectives, position in the market, competitors and culture - and why all that appeals to them.

5. Speak to referees

Don't get lazy because you assume you've made the right selection.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't against the law to give a bad reference - but it has to be a fair, accurate representation of the employee's time at their company, so most employers would rather refuse to give a reference than give someone a bad one.

If your employee's previous company refuses to give a reference, that's clearly a bad sign. Instead of just asking for a reference, send a form or set of questions on specific elements of performance, aptitude and potential areas of concerns.

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