Avoid costly mis-hires: How local governments can reduce hiring risk
4 minutes | Posted 27 August, 2020

Taking on new employees in local government can have its challenges. While recruitment always carries some risk, the wrong hire can be particularly devastating for smaller Councils. Here how local governments can reduce hiring risk.

New hires make us wonder, can they work well with our existing team? Will they show the dedication required for their role? Will they leave after a few months?

While screening and onboarding new employees can be costly and time-consuming, following hiring best practices can help you reduce the odds of making the wrong hire, and increase the likelihood to place the right person in your role.

Here are six tips about how local governments can reduce hiring risk.

 1. Define the role

Attracting the right person means understanding your organisation and role requirements inside and out. Establishing set criteria before your start advertising helps you stay focused when you do start to receive applications.

Check out our article: “Are you recruiting purple squirrels? (How to rethink your selection criteria)”

Seek input from key people invested in the role: your hiring manager, and whoever the role’s new manager and team members will be. Write down the list of duties your new hire will be required to perform and the skills they need. Use experience and qualifications to narrow down your talent pool.

Then, tailor your recruitment advertisement accordingly. Culture is important in local governments, both for individual teams and your organisation as a whole. In your recruitment advertisement describe the work environment your new hire can expect. Sharing details about the way your organisation operates (and excels) will help both you and your candidates decide if your role is the right fit.

Check out our article and podcast episode of The Talent Scout: How to pick a winning candidate

2. Use the power of referrals

If you’re still wondering how local governments can reduce hiring risk, remember that you can reduce hiring risk through referrals. Referrals are one of the best ways to source talent you can trust. It’s faster, and often cheaper than traditional methods. To increase the number of referrals you receive, consider putting in place an employee referral program. These programs save time and money, as you won’t need to spend hours wading through resumes or waste money on job postings that don’t attract the right candidates.

Your current team knows what it takes to be successful, and they can be a fantastic asset when it comes to finding new talent. People who already work in your Council will typically refer people with similar work ethic. So if you have a high-calibre team, you’ll attract high-calibre talent.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on recruitment advertisements, you can spend as little as a quarter of that amount through referrals – costs associated with referrals typically come from employee compensation from successful referrals. This can vary based on your organisation’s needs.

3. Use smart interviewing techniques

Interviewing is not only an important opportunity to gain direct insights into your candidates, but having the right processes will save you valuable time and resources.

Develop a list of behavioural and skills-based interview questions to screen candidates over two-way recorded video interviews or over the phone before inviting them for a face-to-face interview. Use your list of interview questions to keep interviews fair and consistent.

While remote interviews are an investment, they save you time in the long run. By recording initial interviews (after obtaining permission from interviewees), you can share it with multiple team members to gain their feedback on which candidates to progress with. Gaining their insights can allow you to make a more informed decision.

When it comes time to the face-to-face interview stage, many Councils invite team members to conduct a panel interview. Each interviewer takes turns to ask questions individually, the remaining panel members have time to listen to what the candidate is saying and observe their body language. Dividing the responsibilities gives both strong and weak interviewers the chance to ask questions, increasing the likelihood that all appropriate questions will be asked.

Panel interviews reduce the risk of personal bias and ensure the validity of interview findings. It’s also an opportunity for candidates to interact with their potential coworkers, and gain a better understanding of the role as it’s seen from different employees’ perspective.

 4. Check references

After you’ve found a great candidate, it’s time for reference checks. Ask referees to confirm:

  • Education, certifications, qualifications and skills
  • Title or position in their previous role
  • More information about the nature of their former duties and personality.

Reference checks help you to narrow down your pool of candidates and reduce hiring risk, especially if you’re torn between several applicants who all interviewed well. Managers eliminate 21 per cent of applicants after speaking with their professional contacts (OfficeTeam).

Learning about an applicant’s professional background from a direct source can be a great way to determine if they’re a good fit. Cross-reference contact information through independent research. If they provide a contact number for their supervisor at a former place of employment, look up the organisation.

5. Establish trial periods

Many local governments engage in trial periods with new hires. This allows you to see how they perform, without making a commitment to permanent employment. It’s an opportunity to see how they interact with the rest of the team and whether they’ll be a successful long-term fit or not.

It can also save you money, and give you the time and proof you need to assess your new hires’ abilities – beyond their resume and interview.

6. Conduct checks

Background and pre-employment checks give you the peace of mind to confirm your hiring decision, particularly in local government roles where employees are trusted with confidential or sensitive information. This can save your organisation from hiring mistakes that could lead to misconduct or fraud.

Checks give you access to employment history, police checks, traffic checks, financial checks and more. Specialist support from a recruitment services provider like Employment Office gives you fast, easy-to-understand reports when you need it.

Assessing all the data you can, gaining input from your team members and conducting checks ensure you make smart, efficient hiring decisions for the betterment of your Council. So make your next hire a great one, and lower the risk!

For support with Recruitment Advertising and Shortlisting Services, schedule a discussion today. Call us on 1300 366 573 or email info@scouttalent.com.au.