Finding Staff - Why Choosing People With the Right Attitude is Essential

If you have owned your own business or have managed a business, you will know that well trained, dedicated staff are one of the keys to success.

Indeed it's easy to undervalue the importance of choosing the right employees. But how do you know if you have the right people?

How do you know that the person you just chose for a position won't end up being hopeless? Do you really know what qualities you need in an employee for that vacant position?

Where to start?

I think it's important to have a very clear definition of what the person's role will be. Will they be expected to achieve sales targets, accurately keep business records, run your production line, serve customers........obviously the possibilities are endless. But it is vitally important for you to have an accurate and documented definition of each employee's duties and responsibilities (a job description or position description). Once you have that, then you are ready to advertise in the relevant media.

Accurate advertising

When you place your advertisement, be specific about your expectations of applicants. Clearly summarise the duties and responsibilities of the position. That will ensure that you will get applicants who are more suited to the position. Make sure that you include a closing date for applications, and always insist in applications being in writing, including a detailed CV. Also include your telephone number so that potential applicants can call you with any questions they may have. A phone conversation may also give you valuable clues about a person's suitability.

The culling process

Once you have received the applications, compare each applicant's skills and qualifications to those required for the position. Generally speaking, those that don't meet the required selection guidelines should be culled at this point (don't forget to contact them to let them know why they were unsuccessful).

Those that meet the guidelines are then short listed, and now is the time to contact them to arrange a face to face interview. The interview is probably the most important part of the recruitment process, because it will enable you to find out more about the person, to gauge how they respond under the pressure of an interview, and to really quiz them about why they should be chosen for the job.

The selection interview

This is the business end of the process. Before the interview, prepare a set of questions to ask all applicants. From my experience, these questions should be skill and attitude based. By that, I mean that there are certain skills that people must have to do the job. For example, can they reconcile monthly debtors and creditors; or, can they drive a tractor, can they demonstrate that they have sold 100 widgets per month, etc.

But there are also certain attitudinal and behavioural qualities that people need to have. Are they hard workers, will they put in that bit of extra effort when needed, what is their sick leave record like, how do they really perform under pressure, how do they relate to other people, how will their ideals fit with those of your business, etc.

In my experience, these qualities are much harder to measure, particularly before you hire a person, but can have a far greater positive or negative influence on the person's job performance (and in turn the performance of your business). Often, you don't get an understanding of a person's behavioural qualities until they are in the job, and by then it may be too late.

If you are a small business owner, you may not have the time or financial resources to hire a professional to conduct these assessments (known as psychometric testing). But if you give it enough thought, you may be able to develop some questions to give you an insight of the applicant's strengths and weaknesses. Case studies can also be helpful. Think about a certain situation that may confront the employee on the job, and ask them to detail how they would respond.


If you are faced with the opportunity to recruit a new person to your team, see it as just opportunity. Yep, it may be frustrating and time consuming, but if you take the time to plan your recruitment strategy, you can ensure that you choose the best person for your business.

With the vast resources available on the internet, do some research into psychometric testing. It may help you make the right choice when choosing your next staff member.

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