The Changing Face of the Recruitment Process – in Conversation with Sinead Walsh

Belfast (and wider NI) is now an area of phenomenal opportunity for clients and companies alike, but what comes with these opportunities is increased competition – whether that be securing the right candidate or if you are the candidate, securing the right role.

We have recently heard positive statistics that unemployment rates are at an all-time low, falling to 3%, 0.5% down on the previous quarter which is compared to the rest of the UK at 3.9%.

With a population of 1.8 million, approx. 860,000 of that are within current employment. In turn this is up approx. 16,000 over the last recorded quarter, which all points to the reasonable conclusion that Northern Ireland is a buoyant market at the moment.

The downside for our clients is that this low unemployment rate is further driving the war on talent so how can they compete? We advise candidates that first impressions count and help them to put their best foot forward at interview and the same advice must be provided to clients.

I personally specialise in the recruitment of non-qualified finance professionals, credit controllers, payroll specialists, assistant accountants and finance assistants. When I am dealing with an active job seeker I take it for granted they will have 3 or 4 interviews elsewhere and these are usually one or two step interview processes and more often than not the candidate is between two offers. Who they choose to join is largely dictated by the interview process and the ‘feel’ they got for the company. A handshake, followed by a competency based interview is not going to cut the mustard these days. How much do you actually gain from this anyway?

Particularly as there is now an onus on companies to ensure they are hiring someone who will match skills to company culture for a greater chance of longer service, a new & more holistic recruitment process focusing on skills, personality, ambition, vision and fit are at the forefront of the selection process. Whether you are a company or a candidate the traditional “tick box” or “situational” questioning techniques – “can you give me an example of a time when….” questions are on the way out and a new process is here. Interviews are now more of a two way street where the client and candidate choose each other and there is more buy in from both parties.

Interview processes are now more tailored and structured to suit the individual role that they are hiring for. Certain aspects my clients are focusing on but not limited to are;

  • Does the candidates’ aspirations match the progression of the role.
  • Vetting process – right qualities and characteristics. This could be work ethic and team player.
  • Not being caught up too much on irrelevant past work history.
  • Understand what the candidate isn’t good at in order to provide the right coaching and support. There’s no point in trying to put a square peg into a round hole.
  • Setting clear expectations from the outset, for both parties.
  • Greater input/questioning from the candidate during interview stage to ascertain what is important to them in a prospective employer, and how the company match these expectations

These are some of the aspects considered when recruiting to make sure that the reality of the actual person matches what’s on paper in their CV.

Staff retention is now beginning, not at induction stage, but during the initial interview itself. I think that this can only lead to more successful hires, better retention of key staff and a way for companies and candidates alike to stay one step ahead of the competition when it comes to the recruitment process.

Clients have also been quicker to react and respond in recent times. We are seeing the conversion times shorten vastly as clients are moving more swiftly and efficiently through the process. More comprehensive feedback is provided, even to the unsuccessful candidates which stands the company in good stead when they go to recruit again. There is nothing a job seeker hates more than delays and lack of feedback so this is a positive trend.

To summarise, as a recruiter operating within the local market over the last couple of years, I have noticed a huge emphasis in the importance of hiring new and suitable employees which does not seem to be letting up anytime soon. (Thankfully)

The clients I work with now, more so than ever before, are focusing on getting the right people for the role and this gives massive confidence not only to people operating within the local market but possibly individuals wanting to relocate to Northern Ireland in such an uncertain time (Brexit and lack of Government – that’s a whole different post!).

We are proud to work with a wide variety of clients from start-ups to SMEs to plcs and genuinely enjoy being their recruitment consultant. It is our role to help both candidate and client to increase their chances of success when hiring.

You can reach out to Robert directly through his LinkedIn.