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Caring About High Standards – The Person Specification
Creating high standards is largely about people and what they bring to their work. Good recruitment and selection in the first place may do more to improve people performance in the long term than almost any other activity. And yet it is a practice all too often based on hunch, unstructured interviewing or just relationships (who knows whom). A professional approach to recruitment at even the lowest levels (or maybe especially at the lowest levels) of the labour market will really help to produce employees who meet expectations, and who are reliable and committed. Even at a modest level, if an employee is with you for five years then you may well be spending £100,000 or more on their employment. It makes sense to invest well in their selection.
The starting point should be a Job Description; bluntly what it is that you want them to do. That should inform the essential qualities you will need in the person you are recruiting – i.e. enable you to prepare the Person Specification.
Deciding on your minimum requirements in advance helps to avoid being deluded by someone who is simply good at being interviewed or while being the “best on the day” is actually not good enough.
The Person Specification is invaluable in other ways too, for example in preparing an advertisement and in structuring the interview. Keep it brief and take care that essential requirements are just that, essential. That way you won’t be seduced into ignoring them later. Desirable requirements can be included so as to help you to choose between suitable applicants.
Recruiting employees is time consuming and therefore expensive. Make a mistake and you may have to repeat the exercise sooner than you want. The alternative consequence of a mistake is that you could still be wondering in five years time why you chose a particular employee in the first place!
Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Human Resources Contributor
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