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How to handle the first time you recruit someone

When it comes to hiring, handling the recruitment process can feel daunting – especially if it’s your first time. Choosing who you want to join your team is a big decision, so how do you make sure you get it right?

Having been on both sides of the recruitment process, here are a few tips I’ve picked up for recruiting new team members.

Create a short-list of your must-haves

It’s important to have an idea of the type of candidate you want to apply for the job in the first place. Do you need them to have a certain degree or experience level? Is it important that they’ve had a certain number of years’ experience? Will they need to be a line manager, which might require managerial experience? For example, I currently work on a special engineering and science PR focused team at a London-based agency. As part of our daily job we have to be able to translate high-level, difficult concepts into laymen’s terms. This means that we really value candidates with science or engineering degrees, a background in similar subjects and a passion for science and engineering.

Make sure these must-haves are mentioned in your job ad. Doing this will hopefully ensure that only capable, suitable candidates apply for the role, and this should save you time on looking through CVs, and speed up the recruitment process.

It’s also important to describe the job role and industries you work across in detail. You want to allow candidate to identify early on if there are types of clients or industries that would not be comfortable working with, as that saves everyone time.

Handling the interviews

The interview stage is your chance to really get to know the candidates, but also to demonstrate to them why they should want to work for your company.

Remember that candidates will more than likely be feeling a bit nervous so try and put them at ease. Smile, offer them a drink and don’t leave them waiting too long. It’s good to get them to interact with different members of staff whilst they are waiting - for example, the first person they are likely to meet would be your receptionist or someone who sits near the front of the office, so check in with them after the interview on how the candidate conversed with them.

Make sure to have a list of questions prepped to ask, this will make sure you look like you’re on it and prevent any awkward silences. I always start by asking candidates to tell me about themselves and their previous work experience. This is a great opportunity to test their communication skills and learn more about them.

It is still definitely important to ask the age-old question ‘why do you want to work for us?’ You want to know they’ve done their research, and you can usually tell from this question if they have.

Another great interview question is asking candidates to give an example of how they’ve handled certain situations in the past. For example, how did they handle a stressful situation, multiple deadlines, an angry client, etc. These situational questions usually invite further questions and give you a better idea of what the candidate would be like to work with.

How to know when a potential PR superstar is in front of you

Personally, I think the best candidates are those that you can see have done their research on your company and why they want to work there. They don’t necessarily need to have all the experience in the world, but their potential and willingness to learn must shine through. Evidence that they’re a keen team player is important, but they also need to show that they are also able to work independently. This is especially important when working in PR. We often have to work with and manage different teams within our company, but we also have to work as an extension of our clients’ inhouse teams and also with our video team. A great attitude and enthusiasm always trump having experience. It’s much better to employ someone who is willing to learn than someone who thinks they know absolutely everything and refuses to take anything new onboard. No matter how junior or senior you are, there is always something else you can learn.