Cape Town - The right people, or lack of them, make or break a company, yet the critical importance of a rigorous recruitment and selection process is frequently disregarded or passed on to external recruiters or HR with little real engagement or interest from line managers who are often bogged down in chasing their own ever-stretching deliverables and “fighting fires”.

As with any operational output, best practice basic techniques, high level involvement from operations, the building of a company value, proposition to attract talent and a thorough process which is prioritised, consistently applied and evaluated are the only processes to follow to avoid hiring mediocrity into the workforce.

Read: Happy people are productive workers

Effective recruitment is a step-by-step and integrated process in which comprehensive training is required, given that one missed or poorly applied element renders the end result worthless – a costly exercise with negative effects on morale, culture and productivity.

A foundational imperative is a clear-cut analysis of the values and ethics that constitute the living and breathing company ethos – rather than the written mission statement. From the start, these need to be made visible and probed in the process, for if the fit alignment is not there, the wrong candidate will have been appointed.

Other baseline elements include a thorough analysis of the qualifications, experience, technical and behavioural attributes required to do the job and the inputting of these into a relevant job specification utilised for the job advert and as the basis of questions for the interview evaluation.

The latter task requires competency based recruitment expertise without which the interview process will be flawed.

In a job market in which quantity rather than quality abounds, sourcing methodology needs to be varied and adapted to the position concerned.

Screening is generally neglected.

Given the evidence of the increasing number of fake reference names and bogus qualifications, the check process should also cover ID, qualifications and integrity checks.


Central to any sound selection process is a competency-based panel interview incorporating technical experts, line managers and executive level staff (as appropriate). Encompassing technical, behavioural and fit questions and utilising scoring and an objective panel expert, this goes a long way in sifting out the right potential candidates.

Common problems leading to the loss of talented candidates are not communicating the process to the candidate at the start (it might include psychometrics), not checking current earnings and salary expectations upfront and taking too long to make the offer, or making an offer which contains some surprise elements not previously anticipated.

Talented candidates know what they want and are selective about where they work – they can afford to be, which goes back to a clearly differentiated value add for them which should have come through in the process.


* Jennifer Ritchie is a retrenchment and recruitment consultant and has recently published A Coaching Handbook For Re-inventing Yourself After Retrenchment. Visit for more information.