Recruitment is a tricky business! Getting the right people in the right roles is critical – yet so many times I’ve seen organisations give important jobs to the best of a bad bunch of candidates, simply because they’re desperate to fill a gap and better options aren’t immediately available. Is it really better to have a job done badly than not at all? I very much doubt it, since this sort of panic-recruiting is always going to turn round and bite you on the bottom when people turn out to be unsuitable for the job. You then have the cost, time, poor ER and general aggro of capability procedures, disciplinaries and ultimately dismissals, not to mention the damage that can be done by someone attempting to do a job they are clearly not capable of.

That said, at the other end of the scale, I’ve seen organisations turn down perfectly good candidates because they are always convinced there is a slightly better one just around the corner. They dither about for so long convinced they’re kissing frogs, that by the time they realise that they missed the handsome prince and go back to them with an offer, they have already been snapped up elsewhere. Result? See above paragraph…

Short of commissioning Dr. Frankenstein to create the perfect applicant (and we all know how that turned out…), there is realistically very little chance of finding someone who absolutely fits our ‘ideal candidate’ profile. So the key thing here is to know what things are your deal-breakers, and which you can be more flexible on.  (Which is the whole point of Essential v. Desirable on the person specification.) Don’t sweat the petty things – remember, you can train someone up to get skills and knowledge, but personal qualities and attributes are pretty much fixed. And does it really matter if someone has an NVQ instead of a BA, which may be in a totally unrelated subject area anyway?

Don’t faff about being so picky that you kick a lot of good candidates to the kerb, only to find that you’re suddenly so desperate that you’ll  take on any old donkey. As with any decision-making, find an appropriate balance between speed and accuracy, and manage the expectations of the recruiting team – particularly where timings are concerned. Plan ahead as much as possible – don’t forget to factor in the potential notice period of the successful candidate, as well as allowing people adequate notice of interviews etc. And above all, make sure you have robust selection processes and tools in place! ‘Old school’ interviews are not the best predictor of performance – use competencies to recruit against, and if possible tools such as psychometric testing, Occupational Personality Questionnaires, in-tray exercises etc.

The bottom line though is that once you employ someone who is basically pants, you’re going to spend a lot more time on damage limitation than you would have spent on recruiting. If you recruit in haste, you will repent at leisure – so while Mr/Ms Perfect may not exist, make sure you get Mr/Ms Right rather than Mr/Ms Right Now!