Bringing new employees on board can feel like a big risk. Advertising and interviewing can be a minefield, and even when you’ve chosen your new employee there’s always a worry that they won’t be a good fit for your culture let alone the role expectations. Here are some tips that have served me well over the years:


  • First of all, cut the wheat from the chaff – advertise for the people you really want to attract. At Pacific Direct if we were looking for sales people we would place an ad with huge letters saying World Class Sales People Apply. It said almost all we needed to say. What should your recruitment ad say that will attrat the right characteristics for a clearly defined role?
  • Whilst you are interviewing applicants to see if they will fit into your team well, remember that they are also using this time to decide whether they want to work for you. That doesn’t mean you need to put a certain spin on yourself and your company, but rather that you should try to give a realistic picture of what it’s like working as a part of your team. Be honest about how people work, the culture and the expectations of how hard, fast and demanding a role might be; these things should be shared up front. If it scares people off, you are scaring the right people – the ones who should not even have made it to the interview.
  • Maths an English basic tests and a customer service written response, timed test before even beginning a meeting for an interview is always a good idea.
  • If someone had a paper round as a child, and kept that job through at least oen winter, it’s a good bet they are the sort of person who will work hard for your team. I’ve used this as a general rule for many years now and always found that those people who will carry a heavy bag through darkest winter mornings will always be a good addition to the team.
  • At interview stage it is always worth making sure your applicants know they are not just applying for a bog standard job. Explain that your company is your passion, and that everyone works hard while also having fun. At Pacific Direct I made sure new employees understood that I very much expected my pound of flesh in return for a salary and a job that would always be engaging and allow as mnay opportunities as possible. If you expect extraordinary performance you haev to give, train, encourage, empower and deliver on your side of the bargain.
  • Share your company culture and values with each applicant. You may find that some remain totally uninspired by what you are trying to achieve, where others light up and come out of their shells as you talk with passion about what your business is all about.
  • Always ask questions to delve into individuals’ reasonings for leaving their current role. I always think people who are sneaking in for an interview on someone else’s hours lack the ethics I want in my company.
  • I’m sure it’s very obvious, but avoid asking “yes/no” questions. You want your interview to have a natural, conversational flow, and you want to get a good feel for the person sitting in front of you and whether they’ll fit in well to your team. Ask questions that allow them to give a good, lengthy answer and show you who they really are. Delve further into answers and further into claims to get the real facts of the situation.
  • Don’t just listen to answers! Things like the way a person is dressed, their body language and eye contact can tell you as much as anything that comes out of their mouth. Similarly, your candidate will infer a lot from the way you look, talk and behave. Dress how you would normally dress; if they do not like your style, they may not fit into your culture.
  • I loathe people who walk slowly to an interview – it tells me something!
  • I look for good manners, particularly from a person’s engagement of our receptionist, who should be the first point of scoring.
  • Don’t bother looking up clever or difficult interview questions; just ask what you need to know and listen to responses. Record responses by score so that you give everyone a fair review. Often on review a person who is an all rounder might not have come across as an outstandingly memorable person. The first interview of the morning is rarely remembered as well as the last interviewee of the day.
  • Today with all that is available online I will not take an interview further if after the first question I have established that the individual did not prepare by researching me and my company. I want people who look to bring value and energy, organisational enthusiasm and much more but qualities such as these are first demonstrated in their ability to take the initiative by preparing and researching.

New employees:

  • On the first day I would bend over backwards (and even fly half way round the world if possible) to welcome someone to my team, certainly for the vast majority of those we employed.
  • It’s always worth spending time making sure your new employee understands your company ethos. Have a chat with them; perhaps explain things like the story of the company, where the name came from etc. This helps them to feel they’re a part of something larger than themselves. Purpose should be a part of this exchange; expectations; the rules of the business in value terms. Make sure they know you have an opend oor policy for help and support.
  •  Always look a new employee straight in the eye and tell then: “don’t steal from me.” Studies have shown that 96% of people who have had this never steal from their employer. Explain that if they need something they can always come and ask.
  • If you have any specific benefits that you offer to employees, explain exactly what these are. Whether that’s purchase of stock at cost price, staff discount, extra holiday in return for other activities or other benefits, make sure these are explained clearly so that there is no confusion. Where there are rewards for the company as a whole hitting their target, emphasise the teamwork side of it.
  • Don’t just hand them a “new employee handbook” to read and wander off; make sure you or a member of your team is available to answer any questions. It’s usually a good idea to pair up a new starter with an established team member so that they can shadow them for a week or so, depending on their work, to help them find their feet.
  • You will gain more value from a personalised card prior to arrival; a welcome note alongside providing the staff handbook and key brochures. Send these to their bouse before they begin work to help them learn about the business before they begin work.
  • Remember that during those first few days, as much as your are judging whether you’ve made the right decision your new employee is doing the same. That doesn’t mean you should put on a facade and hide what things are really like, but it does mean you should make an effort to help them settle in. Something like providing a layout of a team showing who sits where can really help people to engage and get going.
  • Things like tours of the office and introducing team members can feel boring, but they can help a new employee to find their feet. Take your induction process very seriously, and get your new starter to do the same. I often warned that people would be tested on what they had learned each day – the same as when we invest in someone going to a seminar or conference, we expect notes to be shared and circulated with key take aways for implementation from the event.
  • New sales people should always go out with an established salesperson for the first two days in their new role. The valye they gain from seeing the process in person is far better embedded and understood. Appreciation for roles in the office in sales support, administration, customer service and finance are all important. Each member of your team should respect each other’s role.
  • Make induction interesting for all concerned by sharing more than just “this is Jenny and she does the bookkeeping” about your eployees. That doesn’t mean sharing something embarrassing they did at the last staff outing, but making it clear there is a real value in understanding every person’s part in contributing to growing the business and how the company makes money effectively.
  • Ask for feedback. As you are bringing new employees on board, it will take you a while to get things just right. Ask your new employees for feedback on their interiew and first few days; did your efforts have the desired effect? What could you have done differently? This will give you invaluable informaiton fo rthe next time while also making your new employee feel that their opinion matters to you. Ask what they have learnt, what they think you can do differently that perhaps they know from a previous role. You could even ask how you can save money, move faster, improve your image and sell more!
Written by Vicky Charles

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