Finding the best candidate

Written by: Adam Bernstein
Published on: 15 Aug 2018


Image © leremy / Adobe Stock

Hiring staff is never easy. Indeed, surveys have shown CVs tend to have some form of discrepancy often related to qualifications, dates of past employment or experience accumulated – your job is to find out the truth.

Define the job and keep pay competitive

Start by considering exactly what you want the candidate to be able to do now and in the future, if they grow in the practice. You don’t want to have to go through the process again unnecessarily.

Equally, make sure you pay at least – if not more than – the going rate.

Look in-house first

It may not occur to you at first, but consider if there is anyone in-house that could do the job. You will still need to follow a proper recruitment process, but it may well save you time and money. Also, they will know you and the practice.


While the internet reaches far and wide, is faster and, invariably, less expensive, it may not beat an advert in a newspaper or magazine that targets a specific audience.

Either way, avoid paying for an advert during holiday periods – by definition, part of the readership will not see the advert.

In terms of the advert itself, be concise, but give enough information to readers, including:

  • potential pay
  • location
  • skills and experience required
  • how applications should be sent in
  • a deadline for applications

Follow the law

The law is very particular about what you can and cannot do during the recruitment process. Candidates may not work for you (yet), but they do have rights and may not be afraid to enforce them.

There is much to be said, but, in summary, aim to be transparent, use the same process for all and do not discriminate in any way, unless it can be objectively justified for the job.

You also need to be certain the candidate is legally allowed to work in the UK. Penalties of £20,000 per person illegally hired await employers who ignore this.

Social networks

With social networks, it is becoming much easier to check what candidates have said about themselves online against what they have told you. Interestingly, a February 2011 Press Complaints Commission ruling said postings – in that case on Twitter – were not private.

The flipside is candidates may well check up on you through social networks; so consider using your website as an advert for the practice.

Verify qualifications

You need to check carefully the candidate has the qualifications and experience being claimed. You may also want to check for a criminal past.

To be on the safe side, tell all candidates their applications will be screened, claims will be verified and any job offers will be made subject to satisfactory responses. Make their agreement part of the written application process.


The interview process is crucial to finding the right person.

You need to design questions that follow the law, get the candidate to open up and get you the information you need. Don’t emulate what you see on The Apprentice – aggression will not help you – but do ensure questions cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no”.

Also, ask questions that seek experience in solving problems that might occur in your practice. It is far better to find those with the talents you need rather than hiring some who will do while you train them.

Document everything

Keeping documentation on the whole process may help you later, should a dispute arise. Whether it is a rough scribble on an application or CV, your notes on answers given to the questions during the interview, comments on why someone has been rejected or copies of documents that prove a right to work in the UK, keep it all. It may also protect you.

Remember data protection issues, however. Candidates (employees, if hired) can apply to the information commissioner to see what details you have on them.

Seek advice

As recruitment, and employment law, is such a minefield, you would do well to seek good advice. Even if you pay for advice so you can create a recruitment template that can be reused, it will be time and money well spent.

As noted earlier, candidates can take you to a tribunal if they feel aggrieved and if the claim is related to discrimination the award has no limit.

Remember Acas, the Government’s arbitration service, offers advice and training. Finally, take a look at the Government’s website –