Recruiting the right talent

Andy Brown shares some lessons about how to recruit more skilled professionals to harness the power of data to change customer behaviour and deliver unrivalled ROI

Since our MBO in late 2017, Armadillo has been through a period of sustained growth, with 21.28% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of fee income in the past three years.

We are forecasting this growth to continue through 2021, and with that consistent growth, we have needed to make a number of key hires. We will need to recruit more skilled professionals to join us as we continue to use our expertise to harness the power of data to change customer behaviour and deliver unrivalled ROI. So here are some things that I have learnt and am still learning that you might want to consider during the recruitment process. 

Ensure candidates understand your company’s values

We all know that it’s cheaper to retain customers than win new ones, and the same can be said of employees. High staff turnover can be a killer for culture and the bottom line, not to mention the lost knowledge and relationship bonds which walk out the door every time someone leaves. So first of all, work towards making a team culture where people want to stay, commit and contribute to overall success.

Cultural fit is so important for long term success of a candidate or employee, so ensure your values and all those little things you do come across in your job adverts. As well as trying to convey the company’s values, during therecruitment process it is important to draw out from candidates if they share those, or if not, whether they are likely to stay in post for long. However, try to be mindful of subconscious or unconscious bias – for example affinity bias; the subconscious thought that might make one candidate more appealing because you share something in common with them; it could be a former workplace, university or even something as trivial as following the same sports teams. Each of those things do not mean one candidate would be more qualified or suitable for the role than another, but it might affect your decision making. Be watchful for biases such as these and consider a wider range of other biases too (I find this list helpful). Having diversity of thought, experience and background within a team will create opportunity for healthy challenge and new ideas.

Think of different ways of bringing out skills at interview stage

Find ways to test for skills or values which are most important for the job, and not just discuss previous experiences. For more junior roles, consider asking ‘what if’ questions to give candidates a chance to explore how they would approach a challenge in the future, which could be more revealing than asking them what they have already done. 

I once had an interview for a Finance role where I was provided with the Group’s management accounts, statutory accounts and next year budgets on arrival, and given 45 minutes to prepare a presentation for the Group FD. Amongst other things, they were testing my ability to work under pressure, time management, my accounting knowledge, my numerical and analytical skills and my presentation skills. Fortunately for me I was offered and accepted the job, and we went on to implement and address four out of my five recommendations.

Software can help you streamline the process

Working in a business like Armadillo, it won’t come as a surprise that another recommendation I’d offer would be to utilise software and data management. Regarding software, there are some great SaaS tools (like Workable for example) which can help you securely (and compliantly) store applicants’ information and documents, share access (on a per candidate or per role basis) to relevant colleagues without compromising the privacy and control of the candidates’ personal data. Especially for businesses currently working remotely or from home, interviewing candidates on screen with one or more interviewers can prove a challenge, whether it’s managing a large volume of candidates, not having CVs and applications in inboxes, or losing track of that data.

Someone might not be right for this role now, but could still be a good fit

Get GDPR-compliant permission from candidates to keep their details on file. A candidate who was a cultural fit but did not quite have the right experience, may be right for a different role, or in time may have gained the experience they previously lacked. Keeping a record of their details and application could be a component of an “always on” approach to recruitment.

In summary, communicate the cultural values of the business, and how you value employees. Try to be mindful of unconscious biases in both job adverts and interviewing. Test for key skills as well as facilitating discussion. Especially when recruiting for a number of roles, or at scale, consider using cloud-based software to practically help and keep a (GDPR compliant) database and records of strong candidates who you may want to speak to again in the future for ‘always on’ recruitment.

Andy Brown is Armadillo’s Chief Financial Officer and an experienced member of the board. He believes that the CFO or CFD is integral to the running of a company and is extremely passionate about supporting, coaching and leading.

He co-owns, runs, advises and works part-time for a number of businesses and is the Director of seven companies in the UK. With a huge wealth of experience, Andy has been in the business since 2009 and is always seeking to adapt and grow within his role.  

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