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Steve O'Dell


Managing Director UK

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How exactly do you get volume recruitment right?


Recruiting the right people can be a major headache for any organisation. But when you need to recruit large numbers of frontline sales, service and support staff every year – as employers do in sectors such as retail, call centres and hospitality – that headache is multiplied many times over.

Volume recruitment demands two things from your recruitment process: efficiency and consistency. Without these, you’ll inevitably make poor recruitment decisions. If your selection process is inefficient, you’re not only wasting money and effort, you won’t be able to make quick hiring decisions, so you may lose out on talented candidates. If your selection methods are inconsistent across different sites, then applicants of varying quality will inevitably be appointed across your organisation.

Unlike graduate recruitment, which is traditionally managed through a centralised process, volume recruitment is typically undertaken locally, involving the hiring managers at each site or location. If you’re overloaded with applicants, the objective should be to create an efficient and consistent recruitment process which screens out unsuitable candidates early on. Your process should also enable hiring managers to choose from a pool of potential candidates, all of whom are a strong fit with the culture and values of your organisation and the competencies required for the role.

How do you do that? The first challenge is to create a centrally-supported recruitment process. There are four steps to this:

  • Analyse the skills, behaviour and characteristics of good performers in your organisation and create a ‘profile’ of your ideal candidate
  • Explain to people exactly what the job entails before they apply. This may put off some applicants. But that’s a good thing. You only want people to apply if they know what they’re letting themselves in for. That way, you don’t create a false expectation about the role. If the job is not what people expected it to be or if they are not suited to the required tasks, they have little chance of success. They’ll either leave of their own accord or you’ll soon be asking them to go
  • Weed out unsuitable candidates as early as possible. Separate the wheat from the chaff by using psychometric assessments that evaluate applicants against the profile of your ideal candidate. Online assessments specifically designed for use in volume recruitment are now available. The latest versions of these are ‘adaptive’, which means the tests vary depending on how successfully the candidate answers the questions. Adaptive tests can be completed in almost a third of the time of traditional tests because the questions are always pitched appropriately.
  • Make the whole process engaging for candidates. Provide them with a positive experience by communicating at each stage of the process and show care and consideration to those who will ultimately be unsuccessful in their application. Best practice, whenever you are using assessments, is to explain why you are doing so, how they relate to the job and how candidates can prepare for the assessment experience to give themselves the best chance.

The second challenge is to prepare your hiring managers at a local level. Use targeted, competency-based interviews, as these offer a far more effective way of making a decision about a candidate’s suitability for a role than a general, unstructured interview. Some assessment providers have tests that enable your hiring managers to create an interview guide based on each candidate’s competency scores. This makes life easier for hiring managers, in each location, as they can then ask candidates a series of questions focused on the key competencies required for the job. They can query any areas of concern and collect the necessary competency-based evidence.

Targeted, competency-based interviews can therefore embed greater consistency into your recruitment process, leading to better quality, more effective selection decisions in all of your locations.

With any form of recruitment, you want to get it right first time, as often as possible. Given that organisations are overwhelmed with candidates for every vacancy – and that the proportion of unsuitable applicants is increasing – there is now an even greater need for an objective and efficient screening process to help you find the people who are best suited to the role. This is particularly true when you’re recruiting in volume.

Ultimately, if you have an efficient and consistent recruitment process – which helps your hiring managers to select the right candidates – then you’ll avoid the expense and disruption of recruiting the wrong people. Plus, if the right people are in the right roles, they’ll perform better, they’ll be more engaged, your customers will be happier and your bottom line will improve.

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Steve O'Dell

Managing Director UK

Read more from Steve O'Dell