Doug Monro, Co-founder of Adzuna, shares his top five tips for employers and employees on the hiring process and how to avoid pitfalls.
How would you expand your search and approach the seemingly passive candidate?
The best thing to do in this situation is to be proactive. Even before you have a position to fill, consider what your ideal candidate looks like, and then start looking. Connect with the people that match your criteria via social media or networking events. Listen to them, engage with them, and don’t lose track of them. When the time comes to recruit for a particular role, you know that you have someone with the right skillset waiting in the wings. And they’re likely to be invested enough in your company’s culture - and in you as a person - to consider a new challenge.
How much value does a well written and up-to-date job description give you when searching for the best talent for the vacancy?
A well written job description accomplishes two things. Firstly, it grabs a prospective candidate’s attention. Secondly, it lays out clearly and concisely what is expected of them in terms of their skills and experience. Just as you don’t want to be misled by a CV, a candidate does not want to be misled by a job description.
What preparation would you encourage and offer? Equally, how important is it for the interviewer to be prepared for the meeting?
Make sure your candidate is aware of the little things such as dress code, or if they should bring a pad and pen. Your job is to find the best person for the job, not the best interviewee. Make sure that there’s a level playing field; you’re not looking to trip anyone up before they’ve even sat down. And it is absolutely crucial that you are as equally prepared. Take some time prior to the interview to run through your questions and straighten up the meeting room. Your first impression counts too - don’t make a bad one by appearing unorganised.
What advice would you give to speed up the hiring decision?
In short - know what you’re looking for before you see it. Build a checklist of desirable qualities for a candidate prior to the interview stage and you will be in a position to make a faster and more informed decision. Work through that checklist and be selective - ruthless, even - when it comes to the candidates who actually get an interview. This will help minimise likelihood of interviewing candidates who aren’t suitable. And be proactive in gathering relevant information. Don’t leave a reference check until after offering someone the position, as this will often add more time to the process.
How important is it to ensure the new hire is fully aware of their own remit, as well as their team understanding what the new hire is responsible for?
Beyond actually identifying and hiring the right candidate, this might just be the most important aspect of the hiring process. To ensure maximum efficiency when onboarding a new hire, everyone must be crystal clear in their own responsibilities. This helps avoid any balls being dropped during a period of transition. You’re hiring someone for a reason; to fulfil certain responsibilities within a business. It’s likely that these were shared while the position was vacant. Making sure every single person knows what is required of them now that the role has been filled will keep things running smoothly.
What should candidates look out for in a job description and what questions should they be asking in initial meetings and phone calls?
Understand the tone in which the job description is written. This should be your first clue as to the personality behind the business, and therefore inform the manner in which you communicate with them. If the language is casual and fun, then they’re probably looking for a candidate who can complement a more relaxed company culture. And if it’s a little more straightlaced, then they clearly value a more formal and business-like approach.
When it comes to questions for a potential employer, consider asking:
This gives you a chance to discuss the company and its culture with someone on the frontlines. What’s more, you can use this as a jumping off point to ask specific follow up questions and demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.
Beyond the job description, you should seek more detail in order to understand just what a day-in-the-life looks like at the company.
Asking this gives you a little bit of context regarding the history of the role. If it’s brand new, you’ll want to know what’s expected of you. And if you’re replacing someone, you’ll want to know who and why.
What are the worst things you experience time and time again when interviewing and what advice would you give to help the candidate avoid them?
A good interviewer will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and hammer home your experience by asking you questions with ESR (example / specifics /results) responses. This is the equivalent of an open goal, and you’d be surprised how often candidates fail to answer correctly. Don’t miss it. Another red flag that’s often waved during an interview is a candidate being derogatory or negative towards former employers. It doesn’t matter if it has a basis in the truth, you simply must show that you are a positive person who can add value to the hiring manager’s business. If things were particularly rough at a previous job, speak in terms of ‘challenges’ rather than ‘problems’. Discuss how you overcame them, and don’t get personal. Finally, we live in the age of information. Checking a candidate’s social media accounts is standard when vetting a prospective employee, so before you accept an interview, make sure you haven’t shared anything in the public eye that might preclude you from the role.
When an employer makes an offer, they’ve laid their cards on the table and handed the candidate part of the power. How would you describe an ideal acceptance scenario?
When an offer comes your way, you should be gracious and polite – but that doesn’t necessarily mean accepting it straight away. Request that the offer be put to you in writing. This allows you to review all the necessary details, including job title, start date, salary, and benefits. Then, if you’re not totally satisfied with the offer, negotiate. Tell your prospective employer that you’ve carefully considered the offer and that you’d like to discuss it in more detail. Ask for a follow up meeting.
When you’re ready to accept, run through the details of the offer as you understand them to make sure you’re both on the same page. And if your negotiations have changed any aspect of the initial offer, ask that it be submitted in writing once more.
Finally, enquire about the next steps. This shows you are proactive and excited to get started, therefore validating the hiring manager’s decision to make the offer in the first place.
What advice would you give to professionals to help them overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed?
Carry a diary and a pen everywhere. And don’t be afraid to use it. Take notes as and when required to avoid that feeling of information overload. Write down everything that feels important, and review it at the end of the day with a colleague or line manager. Consolidate your notes and make sure you ask for clarification on anything that still doesn’t make sense.
The business won’t pause for too long as you get up to speed, but your new coworkers will appreciate that there’s a learning curve. They’re there to help - you only need to ask.
Do you agree with this? Which teams are fundamental for all new starters to get to know?
Yes, wholeheartedly. It’s useful as a new hire that you not only understand your role, but also your impact within the organisation. Ask to be introduced - or introduce yourself - to the teams or departments working above, below, or alongside your own in order to better understand how you all work together to successfully drive the business forward.
About Doug Monro
Former MD of Gumtree and COO of Zoopla, Doug Monro co-founded Adzuna in 2011 with Andrew Hunter (former head of marketing at Gumtree and VP of marketing at Qype). Adzuna now operates in 10 countries and in September 2016 was listed in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100.