So your company has been running for a year now and it’s time for some small expansion. The problem is that you’ve only ever worked for other people and you’ve never had to recruit someone. Or it’s been some time since you recruited someone into a role and aren’t sure how employment legislation has changed. Follow these simple rules, says Paul Pearce-Couch, and you won’t go wrong.

So your company has been running for a year now and it’s time for some small expansion. The problem is that you’ve only ever worked for other people and you’ve never had to recruit someone. Or it’s been some time since you recruited someone into a role and aren’t sure how employment legislation has changed. Follow these simple rules, says Paul Pearce-Couch, and you won’t go wrong.

Make sure your recruitment ad is legal

These days it’s unacceptable – and illegal - to place ads such as “Female, 18-25 years, wanted as shop assistant. Must be single and willing to work long hours.” While there is such a thing in the UK as a Genuine Occupational Requirement(GOR), these are exceptional and legal advice should be sought on whether your particular vacancy has a GOR.

The main criteria for GORs are disability, sex and religious beliefs. In the main, however, recruitment advertising must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability , gender reassignment, race, religion/belief, sex, or sexual orientation.  Even if you feel the person would not be a good fit because, for example, you run a business that has a “laddish” culture and the applicant has made it clear that they are gay, that is not sufficient reason to dismiss their application and the penalties can be severe if the candidate successfully challenges your decision under the Equality Act 2010.

The advertisement cited above also requires the successful candidate to “work long hours”. Under Working Time Directive, employees may not be made to work an average of 48 hours per week (across 17 weeks). There are exceptions to this – police, armed services, etc – but most ordinary jobs, including medical staff, are subject to this Directive.

Check CVs thoroughly

In the current economic climate, and amid a culture of “success at any cost”, it is estimated that one in three candidates lie on their CVs . The temptation to do so is great but the risks significant. In 2010, a British woman was jailed for six months for lying on her CV by claiming to have two A-Levels and subsequently forging a letter of recommendation. She was ultimately convicted under the Fraud Act 2006, making her the first woman to go to prison for CV falsification. Of course, this is an extreme case but an increasing number of employers do not check the employment history of candidates, which can impact considerably on your business and, potentially, cause legal issues.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that each  year a quarter of employers withdraw job offers after discovering someone has lied or misrepresented their application. The Institute warned that lying on a CV is a dismissible and criminal offence.

The rule is simple: don’t be afraid to quiz the candidate on their CV. If the answers seem incongruous, then check the CV before offering a second interview or job.

Always take up references, even after the successful candidate has started their employment.

Screen your candidate before the interview

There’s little point in wasting yours or the candidate’s time by inviting them for an interview for a job that doesn’t pay the sort of salary they’re looking for or does not carry enough seniority. Therefore, it’s sensible to telephone them first to ascertain whether the job would fit your or their minimum requirements. There’s always a tricky moment at the interview when the candidate wants to ask the salary but has been advised not to do this. An informal discussion beforehand will avoid this and make for a much more comfortable interview.

The interview is important but shouldn’t be a deal-breaker

When interviewing a candidate, don’t forget that the interview room is one of the most stressful places

Treat self-help books on body language with scepticism – this is not an exact science...

someone will ever experience. Within the criteria of competency-based interviewing, make allowances for this and try to ascertain the person behind the nerves. Will he or she fit into your organisation? Do they have skills and experience that need to be brought out? Treat self-help books on body language with scepticism – this is not an exact science and you may take a negative view of a perfectly good – if nervous – candidate. Be wary also of psychometric tests. These are merely an inexact snapshot and are easily skewed by the canny candidate.

Even a formal interview can be conversational and designed to put the candidate at their ease and, therefore, more forthcoming with their answers. Just because you’ve adopted a competency-based interview policy, don’t shy away from exploring the candidate’s answers further.

Be honest with your candidates

While it’s obviously important for candidates to supply an application in accordance with their skills and experience, it is equally important for you, as the employer, to be realistic with regard to your expectations of the post holder and of the job itself. Someone with years of experience and a broad skills base will not be satisfied with a junior role, so be frank about your requirements. Is the post currently a junior one but has potential for expansion for the right candidate? Are you offering further training or some other benefit such as health-care? All of this should be communicated clearly.

Ensure that the job has a printed job and person specification. Do include reference to the fact that the post-holder may be required to perform other duties related to their job but don’t expect a department head to be happy with regularly cleaning the toilets.

Above all, your recruitment process should be documented, rehearsed, and not left to inexperienced members of staff, even senior ones. Your staff are a valuable commodity and your business deserves to have the very best – and most appropriate workforce for its needs.