Hiring Process in a Small Business (SME)

This is the first post of a series on Human Resources and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The second part covers Performance Appraisal Methods in SMEs.

Recruitment process in a SME

In an SME nothing is more important than having a committed team with the set of skills and attitudes needed to improve the business. All mistakes made during a recruitment process have serious consequences: bad working environment, customer dissatisfaction and even eventual bankruptcy of the SME.

Unfortunately SMEs don’t usually have the resources to hire consulting firms or specialized professionals to fill the vacancy with the right profile. Therefore, SME owners themselves are often in charge of this responsibility.

In this post we want to cover the fundamental aspects of a recruitment process in an SME in order to minimize possible errors. We will cover:

  • The profile description
  • The use of BPM tools, which can help you improve the recruitment process a lot with minimum investment
  • The personal interview, including a set of essential questions to ask the candidate
  • How to generate a database of applicants
  • Measuring conversion rates between applicants/chosen candidates

As we usually do, we will present this content in a very brief, specific way, ready to use in any SME because we know your time is precious.

Defining the profile of the candidate

Clearly this is the first step, but sometimes it isn’t properly done. It is imperative that you dedicate 15 minutes to write down the desired profile. You don’t have to do it with much formality or detail, but you should at least define:

  • The amount of training and experience that is required for the job
  • Which personal skills are required? Will the emplyee work by himself or be part of a team?

Depending on the level of formalism required, you can complete a sheet for each candidate. A possible sheet would be the following:

Recruitment process: candidate profileRecruitment Form

This form is essential, since it enables receiving the application directly via web. Therefore, the candidate himself enters the data, simplifying your job.

It should include all relevant information. It is important to include only what is absolutely necessary, otherwise complete it would be too demanding and we might discourage good candidates.

A recommended idea is to include a compulsory field (limited to 500 characters) for the candidate to explain why they want to work in our company,. That way we can also evaluate their writing skills and motivation.

The following is an example of a basic form:
Recruitment process: application form

Using BPM to improve the recruitment process

A well-designed BPM tool will greatly facilitate the selection process. The application of the candidate will go through an automated process, ensuring no delays or errors that may misplace information. It is a great support for the SME recruiter, who probably has little time to evaluate dozens (or more) of resumes and can’t make any mistakes. The cost of a BPM tool can be a problem, but there are some BPMS that are specially designed for small businesses (more information here). A BPM tool will:

  • Facilitate the first revision of the application. You can define stages and actors that work on each stage, approving or rejecting an application. Again, it is important to do this quickly and add relevant comments.
  • Automatically generate alerts if the process is delayed at any stage. Good candidates (the ones we want for the job) valued agile process.

We designed an example of a typical process that ensures receiving the applications and reviewing them appropriately:

Recruitment process: BPMN diagram

Recruitment processes can be very complex. We strongly recommend starting with a simple representation and adding only the steps that are absolutely necessary.
The diagrammed example (using BPMN notation) is initiated by the web form completed by the applicant. There are other application options (via mail, email, telephone) but the great advantage of this method is that it automatically starts the next stage of the process.

The job interview: essential questions for the candidate

The interview is a key element in the SME recruitment process. Although it may be tedious, we recommend that the CEO conducts the interview himself. At the end of the day it’s your company and the future of it will depend on how well you hire your employees. Therefore, the time required to do so is a necessary investment. If a process involves too many candidates, it is possible to conduct an initial interview as a “filter”.

The interview should not be a superficial conversation; otherwise we will fail to determine the personality of the applicant or his/her ability to work. If you really want to ensure a good recruitment process, make sure to recreate real situations to see how the candidate faces problems under pressure. It is also crucial to achieve a good environment for the candidate to feel comfortable and open up.

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By Maria Paz Cuturi @ Flokzu | June 22, 2015

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