Are you planning to increase your #Southend workforce?
22nd November 2012
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Remember the days when you'd go through the jobs pages in the local paper, see something you fancied, phoned them up (direct) and were asked if you could be there at 10 o'clock the next day. Then you would duly arrive, smartly dressed and hangover free, spend an hour discussing the job, hours, pay, holidays etc and at the end of it you'd be told 'we'll let you know' (you haven't got the job) or 'when can you start?'

How times have changed. Online applications, telephone screenings, competence interviews, panel interviews, technical interviews, aptitude tests,'s a scary world out there.  And when did the Personnel Department become Human Resources?

That having been said it's not a lot of fun for employers either.  Apart from deciding which interview technique will be most relevant there is also the question of negotiating the minefield of political correctness and employment law.  Being an employer, whether it is to one or fifty members of staff, carries a whole host of responsibilities and challenges. 

Costs will start before you've even received that first application. You have to advertise the job.  Doing it yourself may save some money, but remember there are strict laws in place regarding what you can and cannot say in employment advertising. Using an Agency means you can hand that responsibility to them, however you will also be required to hand them a fairly hefty sum and potentially a percentage of the employees salary.

Know exactly what job you are offering, and be as specific as possible without narrowing your market too much.  Prepare a job description to clarify both for yourself and your potential employee exactly what is required, but make it clear that there may be some flexibility on both sides.  You are not going to lose out on an ideal employee for the sake of a lack of one minor skill that can be taught in an hour, similarly 'any other reasonable duty as and when required' will make it clear to the potential employee that a willingness on their part to occasionally move away from the job description is actually part of the job description.

The question of salary raises more questions. Do you specify in your advert? Is it negotiable? What is the going rate for that job in your area? Are you going to have to pay that little bit more to get the person you want?  And remember it's not just about what goes in the pay packet. Employers' liability insurance, National Insurance contributions, pensions, extra equipment all need to be factored in.  It sounds obvious but if you haven't already done so, check the books and make sure this person is going to pay for themselves taking ALL these costs into account. 

Once you’ve decided which applicants you want to interview for a position, the fun really starts! Job interviews can often be as nerve wracking for the interviewer as the interviewee and it is imperative to be prepared and have a list of questions ready. Apart from a warm welcome to relax the applicant, avoid small talk at all costs. People have a tendency to blurt out the most inappropriate things when nervous, and this could just as easily be you as the interviewee! Find out as much as possible about the candidate but try and stick to questions relevant to the position and about the applicant's previous experience.  Reading between the lines is a skill, making assumptions is entirely different and should be avoided.  Be aware that questions about marital status, whether or not the candidate has (or plans to have) children, place of birth, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual preference or even age could land you on the wrong side of anti-discrimination law. 

Ask questions that are directly related to the position offered, what the applicant expects to bring to the company and expects of the company, and how they see their future career progressing. 

Personal life outside working hours is not a matter up for discussion at an interview.  How the potential employee spends their leisure time is only relevant if it impacts upon their ability to do the job. 

Once you have selected your employee you should send a written offer of employment.  If the letter does not include full details of the position, responsibilities, salary and holiday entitlement you need to provide them with this information by law in a written statement of employment within the first month of their employment. It is your responsibility to ensure that an employee has a legal right to work in the UK before you offer them a job. Even if you unwittingly employ someone who does not have this right you may still face a fine.

If you have until now been a one man band you will need to take out employers’ liability insurance and register as an employer with HMRC to ensure you deduct the correct amounts of National Insurance and PAYE. 

Finally, never underestimate the power of intuition.  No matter how many boxes a candidate ticks, if you instantly felt uneasy when they walked in think about whether you could work with them long term.  Similarly, if you warmed to a particular candidate immediately for no apparent reason you can be confident that somewhere along the line you have hit on the same 'wavelength.' Once your employee starts work, respect them,  keep them motivated and treat them well.  A happy worker is a loyal conscientious worker and you and your business will reap the rewards. 

About the Author

Claire T

Member since: 10th July 2012

I am the very proud owner of thebestofsouthend. My aim is to really shout about why Southend is so great & champion our local business owners who do a really great job!
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