Selecting Staff

Principles of a Selection Policy


Is There a Need?

Because the business appears to be booming, or because the staff are always complaining that they are overworked - no excuse to put on more staff without a thorough survey of your actual needs. Alternatives to new staff, even if it is to replace someone who has just left, could be restructuring, downsizing, selling off parts of the business, selling all the business ....! However, if you really think that you do need one or more new staff members, read on.

Your first task is to carry out a current business performance review: from a financial, marketing, legal/administrative, production/operations, human resources point of view. Also, look at the opportunity costs - what else could you do with the money involved, or would it be a waste of business opportunities not to employ someone?

Having decided to appoint this person, you must decide exactly what she/he is going to do.


Job Analysis takes time, and the amount of effort you put into it will depend on the nature of the job in question and the amount of effort you are prepared to expend. However, the effort will be well rewarded, for a thorough job analysis provides a sound basis for advertising, selecting, training and promoting staff - it can also provide a basis for terminatying staff, if you can show they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. There are many methods for you to choose from:


Should be structured so that review is easy and comparable

  • Watching and noting/timing
  • Filming or videotaping
  • Diaries
    • kept by individual
    • kept by assistant


How are they composed - by whom?

  • checking activities
  • rating them on a scale - most difficult, time consuming
  • may be long list to select from, covering most activities
    • general terms
    • specific terms
  • may be specific to one position

Group or individual interviews or workshops

Need to be structured for ease and comparison

How composed - see above

  • tell us what you do
  • do you do the following

Consultation with supervisors, experts

Means of composing questionnaires and interview sheets

  • those with previous and current knowledge of job
  • should include a current operator

Of course, the reality is often not the theory and many managers or owners of small businesses will be the lone supervisor/expert who is consulted. By whatever means, and I stress that the more thorough the analysis, the more useful will be the end product, you will now be able to draw up an essential item, the job description. Several samples are presented for your inspection - some better than others. Read the list of suggested items for a job description and a job specification, then look at the samples and examine them critically. Very few will include all essential items - perhaps an indication of how they were drawn up - by whom and in what haste?

Remember that job descriptions and specifications have many uses, not least in a court of law! And even if they don't get that far, they are often bones of contention. So, draw them up carefully and make sure you consult the incumbents, and review them regularly. Jobs often grow like Topsy and people take on more and more unwritten tasks - all is well, until one day .........


Consider for inclusion in a job description:


A Job/Person Specification lists what the person has to be like in order to do the job

The minimum acceptable qualifications to perform the job or position, bearing in mind application of On The Job training.


Uses of job descriptions & specifications


Now that you know what the person will do, and what qualities you will be looking for in that person, you can ask your accountant whether or not you can afford to go ahead!


Costs Involved

Paying the person

There are many ways of costing a job, and most are too technical for inclusion here. Nevertheless, in a small business, you can often work out the details for yourself, looking at factors such as:

The cost of recruitment and selection

Revenue required to be generated

Or costs to be eliminated by the position - in the short, medium or long term

Recruitment and selection as an investment? May not be worthwhile immediately, but may pay off in the long term.

 Check all of the above with your accountant!


Samples of Job Descriptions & Specifications

Accounts clerk

Business manager

Personnel Manager

Milk deliverer

Records clerk

Sales Rep


Go on to Advertising the position

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