5 Tips to Improve Communication in the Recruitment Process
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

HR professionals need to balance a couple of very big essentials during the recruitment process. Speed and proper communication are two of those that can be challenging to implement at the same time.

Effective communication, however, plays a role in boosting effectiveness. By zooming in on the right candidates and making the onboarding process seamless.

Talent shortage is a massive issue today and almost 73 per cent of employers report difficulties in filling positions. At the same time, employee engagement is lower than ever before. Disengaged employees cost businesses up to 550 billion dollars per year – a massive amount that can be reduced through better communication about expectations and roles on both parts.

So, what does it take to make the recruitment process more informative, more tailored and more effective? Here are some of the strategies that HR professionals can rely on to improve their communication efforts.


Data Collection

Good communication is heavily dependent on going into every meeting fully prepared.

Luckily, various technologies can be employed today to gather relevant data.

The recruitment process needs to be digitized and optimized, reducing the paper clutter that HR professionals go through. When the right HR software is utilized, it can also analyze current metrics and candidate trends. This will ensure better preparedness over the course of the recruitment process.

Gathering information about candidates to advance is equally important and there are multiple strategies to employ for the purpose.


Online Communication Is More Important Than Ever Before

Everyone is online – a fact that recruiters need to account for when communicating.

If seniors can meet each other online on dating websites, recruiters also have to be present across platforms to streamline and speed up the collection of information.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn have already pretty much become the standard in the recruitment realm. It’s also common for companies to employ live streaming and video calls, making it easier for candidates to schedule interviews in a comfortable way.

The current worldwide situation and the coronavirus pandemic are changing the way we live and the way we work. It is anticipated to have a profound effect on the ways that interviews are being carried out and onboarding is occurring.

Making use of digital technologies right now will exponentially maximize communication capabilities in a cost-efficient, tailored way that all businesses can benefit from.


Maximising candidate engagement


Automation for Some Immediacy

Certain aspects of recruitment process communication can be automated, freeing up human resources for the more strategic tasks at hand.

When a human being has to go through every single step, some processes can be needlessly prolonged. This is why tech can be employed once again to automate a few steps and give HR professionals a breather.

Here’s a very simple example of how communication automation can occur.

After a person has sent in an email with their application, they could receive an automated response. The automatic email can shed a bit more light on the company culture, the onboarding process and the additional steps that the candidate will have to go through in case they’re considered relevant for the position.

While this is a very basic example of how recruitment communication can be automated, it paints a clear picture of how everything can be sped up and simplified for the purpose of simpler, quicker and more efficient processes.


Always Have a Timeline for Replies and Processes

Many people who apply for specific positions complain that they never hear back from recruiters or that they hear back too long after the initial contact.

Every recruiter needs to set strict timelines for responding and for staging out the recruitment processes.

Having automation in place will take a lot of the administrative burden off your shoulders. This way, you can focus on setting a timeline for responding and completing every single step of the candidate filtering out process.

While such timeframes are more or less guidelines, they create a sense of urgency and move the communication forward. Our minds are wired to perform better when a deadline is in place and the rule does apply to corporate communication.


Clarifying Roles within the Hiring Team

The final tip is purely organizational but it can have some impact on the quality of communication within the recruitment team itself, as well as with candidates.

It’s very important to clarify the role of every single member of the human resources department.

Very often, there are implied roles and responsibilities that may be taken on by more than one person. Not only are such processes ineffective, but they can also lead to reduced productivity and serious mistakes down the line.

If there’s a lack of clarity, the department will need to address this internally before a recruitment campaign is initiated. What’s the role of the hiring manager? Does the team have a senior leader at all? Who’s leading the interview process and how are they communicating with everybody else?

These are just a few of the key questions that need to be addressed for proper responsibility allocation. When recruitment team members have a clear idea about their role in the department, they can start communicating more effectively with everyone involved in the process.

Improved communication can speed up recruitment and save a company tons of money. The recruitment team must work to address any ambiguities as soon as possible. Such processes are far from expensive and when carried out correctly, they can contribute to profound operational efficiency in the future.


Author’s bio

Ben Brown is a freelance writer and a content manager at dating site DoULikeSenior


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To discuss what we can to for your recruitment strategy, and find out more about our fully integrated communication tools, book a demo by clicking here.

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Ben Brown

Ben Brown is freelance writer and a content manager at dating site DoULikeSenior with top notch communication  skills. He enjoys learning new things and learning more about people from all over the world. His passion and diligence enable him to consistently grow and improve both himself and his career.

De-biasing language in job adverts
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

The wording in job adverts can discourage certain segments of the population, but here’s how to de-bias them


Are you looking to recruit a ‘dynamic leader’ or a ‘committed people person’? Chances are you’re just looking for the best person for the job. But the choice of language used in the job description could be alienating and dissuading the best – and most diverse – candidates from even applying.

Recent research from Adzuna revealed that 60% of businesses showed significant male bias in the wording of their job adverts. This research was based on a study by academics Gaucher, Friesen and Kay, which found that job descriptions with more masculine wording were less likely to appeal to female applicants. It wasn’t for the most part that female candidates assumed they weren’t up to the job, the research found. Rather they – consciously or unconsciously – were less likely to feel they’d belong at such an employer and didn’t want to work for a company whose first impression was one of being biased in favour of men.

And so the debate on the issue is hotting up. The UK government recently announced a trial of gender-neutral language to define science, technology, engineering and maths apprenticeships to encourage more women to apply. A pilot will apply gender-neutral language to 12 apprenticeship standards.

But while most HR leaders are aware that biased language exists in job descriptions, many don’t know how to fix this. Part of the problem is an inability to identify biased language because of its subtlety. Words that seem innocuous are often rooted in societal conditioning.


How to use gender neutral language

A 2017 analysis of 77,000 UK job adverts by Totaljobs revealed ‘lead’ to be the most common male-gendered word used in job specs, while ‘support’ was the most used female-gendered word. According to Gaucher, Friesen and Kay, popular recruiting adjectives such as ‘ambitious, assertive, decisive, determined and self-reliant’ are male-gendered. While words like ‘committed, connect, interpersonal, responsible and yield’ are considered female-gendered. For instance, in a male-gendered job description, a company might be described as ‘a dominant engineering firm that boasts many clients’. Whereas the female-gendered version could read ‘we are a community of engineers who have effective relationships with many satisfied clients’.

So how can HR de-bias a job description to make the language gender neutral? According to Andrea Singh, HR director of BAM, the first step is to focus on gender-coded words. Job titles should be neutral and descriptive language should give equal weighting to male- and female-coded descriptors, she explains. However, Singh also points out that de-biasing a job description goes beyond replacing adjectives. Employers need to make sure that the requirements listed are actually necessary, because “women will typically only put themselves forward for a job when they meet 100% of the criteria”.

But with unconscious bias ever present there are questions around whether it’s possible for humans to conduct this de-biasing. Singh believes that with the right training it is. But she admits the best results come when software and learning are combined. “Technology brings information and suggestions to the fingertips but job specs need to feel authentic. The people writing and editing specs need to be trained to spot the bias too,” she says.

However, Richard Marr, co-founder and chief technology officer of Applied, doubts whether training a person to remove biased language can be as effective as relying on dedicated software. “The evidence is pretty weak that training is effective,” states Marr. “Processes trump training and tools trump processes. With training, you’re just expecting people to do the right thing.”

That said, the trouble with using software is that neither Applied nor its competitors AdPro and Textio currently extend their job description analysis beyond gender to include other demographics such as ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disabled or economically-disadvantaged candidates. Applied is working with Google to expand its analysis tool to incorporate ethnicity (and other dimensions). But until such tech is available removing gendered language from job descriptions can still have a positive impact on other diverse groups, Singh believes.

“I think language can be looked at in the same way. Masculine phrasing might also be off-putting for candidates from particular ethnic backgrounds where their culture doesn’t typically fit with this type of approach,” she says.

It’s a view shared by Marr. He explains that a job analysis tool will also assess the readability and density of a job description, scoring it for how many syllables, words and sentences it contains. His thinking is that the more readable the job spec, the more inclusive it is likely to be.

“There are heavy socio-economic correlations,” notes Marr. “If you look at people who have low incomes they will have less access to desktop computers and are more likely to rely on their phones and to live in a distracting environment. Each of those things adds a cumulative layer that results in something quite substantial.”

So there are certainly steps that can be taken. But, in an age in which many urge the need to move away from binary definitions of men and women, is so-called male and female language really meaningful anymore? Or is it just another theory to get bogged down by?


Looking at the impact of using more gender-neutral language


Adrian Love, recruitment director for the UK and Ireland at Accenture, certainly feels male and female language is still a ‘thing’. He points to Accenture figures showing an increase in female job applicants from 34% to 50% since 2014, thanks in part to the de-biasing of job specs.

“The impact has been very positive. But there are no silver bullets here. It has to be part of a wider inclusion and diversity programme,” he says.

It’s a similar story from Applied, with Marr reporting that the tool has helped trigger an estimated 10% to 15% swing towards female candidates. Singh also reports a significant increase in female applicants since implementing de-biasing.

“This shows that [using] gender-neutral language is affecting the talent we can attract,” she says, adding that de-biasing could now be taken further. “We now need to delve into the data in more detail… and analyse the next stages in the process to see if we have more women being shortlisted, interviewed and ultimately selected.”

After all, a gender-neutral job description can only go so far if, when a candidate is successful or unsuccessful in their application, the language in the feedback or job offer sees a return to bias.

Both Singh and Love concede that their job description writing tools are unable to analyse interview feedback. But this is where training comes into play, they say.

“Software raises awareness and can point out bias that people may miss,” says Singh, but it’s also important teams are trained to spot it elsewhere in recruitment materials.

Love agrees: “[It’s] not just about one action, it’s about looking at every element throughout the recruitment process. There are opportunities to drive inclusivity end to end, but job descriptions are important because they’re a gateway for candidates.”




Analysing bias in the Bank of England governor job advert


Later this year Bank of England governor Mark Carney will stand down. He’s the 120th white man out of 120 individuals to have ever filled the role, and so the institution has been heavily criticised for embodying a ‘stale, male and pale’ image of finance. By its own admission, it will fail to meet any of its diversity targets this year. So with calls to appoint a female to the position for the first time is the language in the role’s job description gender-biased?

Not according to Applied’s job description analysis tool. Following the appointment of diversity specialists to head up the search for Carney’s replacement, HR magazine analysed the job description to see if the bank’s commitment to diversity extends to its recruitment materials. It scored a respectable 84% for inclusivity and contained an equal amount of male-gendered and female-gendered words.

Marr says that language falls into two categories: agentic and communal. Agentic language is considered male coded. In this advert, agentic traits found were words like ‘confidence, decision, lead and determination’. The communal traits were female-coded words such as ‘responsibility, commit, communicate, and understanding’.

Marr argues that performance evaluation and leadership development should also be defined in a way that balances both sets of traits. “Companies often define success for leaders along agentic lines and measure performance and promotion that way, even though communal traits are just as valuable in leaders,” he says.

Written by Sarah Ronan for HR Magazine.


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that will streamline and revolutionise your recruitment strategy. Our service also includes a dedicated copywriting service to advise on content and structure, and help you get the most out of your job adverts

To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.


Sarah Ronan

Written by Sarah Ronan for HR Magazine.

Now is the time for recruiters to overcome mobile tech challenges to satisfy candidate demand
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Mobile phone technology has evolved at an incredible speed over the past 10 years and recruitment is just one sector that has taken advantage of the flexibility and convenience mobile devices have to offer.

In our 2019 survey, which investigated the relationship between mobile technology and job hunting today, we discovered that 74.7% now use their phone to look for a job, compared to just 32.4% when we ran the same survey in 2014.

A 42.3% increase in just five years demonstrates just how embedded mobile devices have become in the recruitment process for candidates.

Yet, as we step into 2020, there are warning signs that it is time to step back and reassess whether the systems and technologies we use as a sector are fit for purpose going into a brand new decade.


The early warning signs

The warning sign is that while our survey showed exponential growth in the use of phones to look for a job. It also uncovered a small but significant discrepancy. Just 59.4% of survey respondents stated that ‘yes’ they would consider applying for a job directly via their mobile phone.

This 15.3% gap may not seem like a large number, yet it highlights a key area that many recruiters are failing to consider when trying to attract candidates: if the majority of candidates use their phone to look for jobs, then the mobile version of your recruitment platform had better offer a good user experience.

This clearly isn’t the case, as industry data suggests only 33% of job applications take place via a mobile phone. Where a client directs an applicant that is on a mobile device through to an application form or pre-screening page, there is typically a 60-80% drop-off.

So a desire to apply via mobile is one thing, but in practice, the picture is very different.


Common Complaints of Mobile Job Hunting

When asked what are the biggest limitations of job hunting on a mobile phone, the most popular complaint from our survey participants (29.8%) was, ‘The websites I use aren’t optimised for mobile devices’.

But what does this mean?

Poor mobile optimisation can cover many things that users find inconvenient, frustrating or confusing when looking at a website on their phone. For example:

  • The navigation tool is hidden or too small
  • Images do not adjust to the size of the phone – they may be too large or too small
  • The page takes a long time to load, especially when not connected to Wi-Fi
  • The text size appears too large or too small
  • Links do not work
  • Contact information – phone numbers or email addresses – are not hyperlinked so are not functional when clicked
  • Forms are difficult to complete

If your website suffers from any of these issues when used on a phone, then your website is not mobile-optimised.

The other complaints our respondents had were:

  • Not being able to upload my CV – 25%
  • The size of the text – 8%
  • Not being able to apply directly – 3%
  • Not having Wi-Fi – 1%




The Consequences of Inadequate Technology

A poorly-optimised website can lead to serious consequences. If a candidate grows frustrated with an online job application, they will simply stop and abandon the process altogether. While some may pick up the application at a later date on a desktop computer, recruiters must be aware that many will not.

This means that not only may it take longer to fill a job vacancy, but companies stand to miss out on securing the very best talent available. Additionally, an unwieldy website can give a poor first impression, which may also drive candidates away and into the arms of your competitors.


Gen Z talent

The age demographic at most risk of being turned off by non-mobile-friendly recruitment platforms is Gen Z. These 18-24 year olds are the most tech-savvy, with a huge 92.5% of those we surveyed stating that they look for jobs on their phones. The proportion of Gen Z who would actually apply for a job on their phone is 72.5%. While both of these statistics are higher than the national average, the discrepancy between these two figures is also much higher: 20%.

This is a dramatic shift in how younger candidates use technology as part of their job hunting. When the same survey was run five years ago, just 38% of 18-24 year olds used their phones to search for a job.

Losing a fifth of candidates is a considerable amount. Demonstrating that businesses must immediately assess their mobile offering if they are to meet the demands of the next generation of up-and-coming talent.


How to improve

If mobile is to become a more attractive and seamless platform for those who want to apply for jobs, as opposed to just searching for jobs, then there are several steps a recruitment platform or business that handles recruitment can take.

The first step is to conduct a thorough review. Go through the application process yourself as though you were a candidate, and note down any issues you spot. These issues could be how long the page takes to load or appear on your screen. A lag time of three seconds or more could be enough to turn away a candidate.

Other things include

  • The size of the text
  • The ability to upload a CV and cover letter
  • The ability to save an online application process.

The second step is to implement changes to address the issues you have found. These could include:

  • Make information easier to find
  • Hyperlink contact information
  • Make sure button sizes are large
  • Ensure image file sizes are compressed
  • Don’t use Flash.

You may need to speak to your web manager or external website developer to discover how these actions can be introduced. Alternatively, if you are a company that conducts its recruiting in-house, you may wish to seek out an external recruitment agency that already has a mobile-friendly platform.


The future

Considering the advances of the last 10 years, it’s clear that the next 10 years will also see massive jumps in the development of mobile technology. Meaning the desire of candidates to use them for a larger proportion of the job-hunting process will increase. Recruitment agencies and recruiting companies alike must keep pace with these developments.

We are now at a critical time in the sector. The past few years have seen disruption to the industry due to uncertainty over Brexit, which means candidates and recruiters alike have to be ever more savvy, discerning and smart if they are to stand out.

Now is the time for some serious creative thought about how we can overcome the constraints of current mobile technology. While providing an experience that growing numbers of candidates are starting to expect as standard.


About Jo Sellick

Jo Sellick is the Managing Director of professional services recruitment specialist Sellick Partnership. Since forming in 2002, Sellick Partnership has gone from strength to strength as one of the most respected specialist recruitment agencies in the UK. In 2017 the business celebrated 15 years since Jo set up the firm with just a laptop and mobile phone. Now the business employs over 100 staff, has seven offices nationwide and has an annual turnover of over £48 million. Sellick Partnership works across a range of disciplines including Finance & Accountancy, Legal, HR, Housing & Property Services, Actuarial, Procurement, Wealth & Investment Management and Change & Transformation.


Smart Recruit Online offers a low cost multi-award winning online recruitment service with a 98% independent customer satisfaction rating and the highest direct-hire fill rate in the UK.

To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.

Book a demo

Jo Sellick

Jo Sellick is the Managing Director of professional services recruitment specialist Sellick Partnership.

Insights into remote working in 2019
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Globally, the latest figures show that an estimated 70% of people now work remotely at least once per week. Another 53% are said to work location independent at least half of the week. With each year that passes, more individuals and businesses than ever before are transitioning to full-time remote work roles. When it comes to finding the best workers for a company, one of the top incentives to provide is a healthy work-life balance. Alongside this, the pay is still of top importance for nearly all job seekers. As both the number of remote positions and total wages continue to increase, there will be even greater competition for work-from-home roles. Explore what recruiters are now offering remote workers in terms of pay in 2019.


A look at the latest averages

Currently, about 35.4% of the world’s remote workers live in Europe (the highest of any continent). This should come as no surprise, as 51% of all companies that hire remote workers are located in European countries. With such a booming market for location independent positions, it is crucial to know how much remote job seekers are being offered in terms of salary. In early 2019, the global average across industries equates to approximately £15.57/hour (as reported by Remote-How). However, this average does not show much, since wages are so heavily dependent on geographical location and the type of work performed.


Company Culture


Exact figures vary significantly by field

Depending on the job role one seeks, and how many hours an individual wants to work, the pay can vary significantly. For example, stay-at-home mothers who want to work remotely can pick up part-time remote positions, such as being a virtual assistant, customer service representative, or a bookkeeper. These positions typically offer the highest level of flexibility (which is necessary for mums) and provide a wage around the previously stated global average. However, for those looking to work full-time in their chosen career field, remote workers can make a great deal of money. As another example, remote managers, writers, IT, and legal professionals can earn anywhere between £18 per hour all the way up to £50 per hour. The actual pay that recruiters are offering remote workers depends largely on the company’s budget, the experience level of the candidates, and the actual work that needs to be performed.


More companies are beginning to offer benefits

While many remote positions still do not include a benefits package, more companies are starting to offer their virtual workforce traditional job perks. Benefits such as paid time off, childcare, productivity tools, and health & wellness resources are now being extended to remote employees. As more and more organisations shift from standard offices to virtual workplaces, it will soon become essential for companies to offer all workers (remote and in-person) the benefits they most desire.

As 2019 starts to wrap up, one thing should be clear for all recruiters: Remote work opportunities are continuing to increase, and pay is also on the rise. In order to keep top-tier individuals working at an organisation, it will be increasingly important for businesses to evaluate how they pay their remote staff and make changes to keep up with the rest of the world.


Lucy Wyndham is a Freelance Writer and Editor.


Smart Recruit Online offers a low cost multi-award winning online recruitment service with a 98% independent customer satisfaction rating and the highest direct-hire fill rate in the UK.

To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.

Book a demo

Lucy Wyndham

Lucy Wyndham is a freelance writer and editor.

Can Recruiters Ask About Mental Health At Interviews?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

We start off mental health awareness week with a post covering the most important topic that faces Recruiters at the earliest stages of the recruitment process – the legality of mental health related questions during the interview process.

Mental health is a difficult question for recruiters to bring up at interviews. Many organisations are afraid to go anywhere near the topic due to the possible legal repercussions. The Equalities Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate based on disabilities, with mental health falling under the category.

This makes it illegal to base a hiring decision on the candidate’s responses to questions related to mental illness. Candidates are also not obligated to disclose mental health issues at interviews, even if they are asked.


Health & Wellbeing Group


Mental health related questions can only be asked by recruiters in these circumstances:

– If the role has a legitimate need to carry out mental health screening i.e. for national security purposes

– When there is a concern on the candidate’s wellbeing during the recruitment process or their employment

– To find out if they are able to deal with the potentially stressful or hazardous work environments

– To find out if reasonable adjustments need to be made for the application process


Mental health related questions are only allowed during the onboarding process in the form of health questionnaires if a job offer has been made and accepted. All responses provided regarding mental health should be used to offer available support for the employee. Options such as flexible working hours, adjusted work-loads or extended sick leave can all be used to accommodate employees with mental health issues.

Being aware of mental health issues and providing an accommodating environment will have a positive effect on staff performance and retention, cutting down on absenteeism and staff turnover.

Source: Mind.org

Simon Bean – Recruitment Connection


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that will transform your recruitment strategy.

To book a demo with us and learn more about what our technology can do for your business, click here.

Book a demo

Simon Bean

Simon Bean is managing director of the Recruitment Connection and has been recruiting since 1985. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP).

5 Talent Community Best Practices
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

A Talent Community is a great way to engage passive candidates and build warm pipelines of talented, thoughtful job seekers.  However, they are full of various pitfalls that can hamstring their performance.  We’ve studied what makes a talent community succeed and fail.  With that in mind, we wanted to share the best practices that any talent community strategy should follow. But first, the basics:


What’s a Talent Community

A talent community is a mechanism which allows employers to capture the information of passive candidates who’re interested in working at their company, but not ready to apply.  When someone finds out about your company, gets excited about working there, but doesn’t have a resume, a talent community is a great way for them to opt into receiving information about your company.

Synonyms for talent communities are talent pools, talent networks, talent CRM and talent pipelines.  While some would argue that some of these concepts are different from each other, most of the time they refer to the same or at least very similar concepts.

Various personas typically opt into these kinds of programs.  The common denominator is that they are high quality job seekers who are thinking about where they may want to be in 3, 6, 12, or 24 months.

After a job seeker opts into this database, the employer can then engage with them through emails, events, phone calls, content marketing, etc.  The idea is to nurture a candidate and keep them top of mind until they are ready to apply for a job.



Talent Community Strategy – Best Practices

The most successful talent communities all have a few things in common.  Here are the best practices that we see for optimized talent networks:


Engage – So many talent communities collect the information of high quality passive candidates and then never do anything with them.  It’s just another database full of decaying contacts.  The best talent communities engage with their prospects on a monthly basis so that they continue to stay top of mind.  Common sense, right?  But, the vast majority of companies never do this!


Automate – Why don’t most talent communities actually engage with their pipelines?  Because it’s another thing on your to do list!  A best practice here is to automate putting candidates into nurture sequences, and preferably have a mechanism to programmatically build the sequence itself (like we do with our product at NextWave Hire).  This means that even if you don’t have time to engage with your community this month, there are still touch points going out through your automated sequences.


Content – Passive candidates don’t want to get hit with job blasts!  They want interview tips, information on Meetups you’re sponsoring, culture information, EVP tidbits, etc.  Make sure your communications with your talent communities are actually engaging, as opposed to job blasts.


Segment – Sales people don’t want the same content as engineers.  People interested in the London office need information that’s different than people in New York.  It’s imperative to segment your database into different groups or personas that get different content.  Again, having a system that automatically builds these segments for you is quite helpful!


Reinvigorate ATS – Your ATS has a TON of candidates in it.  And, many of them would be a great fit for the roles you have open now.  Your talent network is a great way to re-engage these candidates.  Again, don’t hit them with job blasts, use engaging content to pique their interest and drive them back into your active talent pipeline.


Overall, a talent pipeline is an amazing way to decrease time to fill, discover a new source of quality talent, and ultimately make sure your talent acquisition organization is able to compete in the modern talent market.  If you’re looking for an effective ATS tool, then book a free demo of the Smart Recruit Online platform to see its range of features.


By Phil Strazulla


Phil Strazulla

Phil is the Founder of Select Software Reviews.

5 Good Interview Questions To Ask For Cultural Fit
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

A job candidate may look great on paper, but how can you tell during an interview if they will fit within your organisation?

Cultural fit is one of the most important things hiring professionals need to evaluate for in a job interview, but it’s also one of the most challenging traits to identify. Without working with an applicant, or knowing them, determining whether they are a good fit for the team is difficult. But, asking the right interview questions can help.


Here are some of the best interview questions to evaluate a job candidate’s potential to fit within your company culture:


1. “If I walk by your desk at 5:30 p.m., what will I see?”

Their answer will reveal their view of work and their thoughts on what a workplace should be like. You can evaluate that against your culture.

Does everyone stay until 9 p.m. to work? Is everyone gone at 4:30 p.m. to beat traffic? Is there a startup feel where everyone works remotely, but all the time?

If the candidate says, “I’m long gone,” then you know how they stack against your culture. If they say, “I’m working hard and ordering takeout dinner,” you know whether they fit in or if they are an outlier.

I’ve gotten answers all over the map from, “I’d be organizing my desk for the next morning,” to “You’d see my phone forwarded so I can work from home in the evening.”


2. “What are you most passionate about?”

What ignites excitement and fire in your heart? The common denominator of success and happiness is painfully simple — it’s our fuel of purpose.

A life fueled by a purpose of passion will always create more passion. Passion begets passion;

positivity begets positivity. So, an interviewee that is able to identify their passion is one step closer to being able to work toward — and for — that passion, which will, in turn, yield happiness and, ultimately, success.


3. “Describe your ideal working environment.”

If you had a magic wand and could create your perfect job and work environment, what would it look like?

I like the idea of giving a candidate a blank slate to articulate what he or she desires in an organisation. In my experience, their responses immediately highlight whether or not their ideals align with the company culture.


Company Culture


4. “If we were stuck somewhere, what would you do?”

I ask myself this question throughout the interview process, as well. The question is: If I were travelling on business with this individual and we got stuck at an airport for an unexpected 12-hour layover with nowhere to go, would it be a comfortable experience or a nightmare?

When the going gets tough — and it does within any organisation — I need to know that there is enough of a comfort zone with each one of my employees where we can weather any obstacle that comes our way. As a scaling firm, we experience growing pains and need people who reflect our values and with whom we are comfortable navigating any hurdles.


5. “Walk me through your perfect workday.”

This question provides a candidate with the chance to highlight what they value in the workplace. Do they prefer to work independently or with teams? How does socializing fit into their idea of working?

Most interviews are structured to assess a candidate’s competence to do the role and then how they will fit. This question provides a glimpse into what the employee values, which we can compare to our company.

By Josh Tolan


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

Book a demo


Josh Tolan

This is a guest post by Spark Hire CEO Josh Tolan. Spark Hire is a video interview solutions provider.

Interview no-shows and why they are becoming more common
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Interview no-shows and why they are becoming more common by Mark Stephens

I just read an interesting thread in a LinkedIn group and it reminded me that the issue around interview no shows have been around for a very long time and is not just a blight on modern recruiting, but the situation has been exasperated in recent years for several key reasons that I will aim to explore in this article.

Firstly, and most importantly, there are significantly more passive searches taking place online by individuals who are not really committed to moving jobs.

Google alone has seen a significant increase in job-related searches of nearly double in the last 10 years, with more than 15 million unique job related searches taking place from UK IP addresses each month. That’s half of the working population doing at least one job search every single month.

Add into the equation, the massive increase in demand for around 500 skills sets and the instant gratification, throw away attitudes of X, Y, Z generations and you have the foundations to the cause of this issue.

Research into human behaviours, especially those associated with the passive audience, provides very strong evidence to support our conclusions that a massive mindset shift has taken place in the last 10-15 years, where recruitment traditionally operated based on a set of ‘logical’ foundations, whereas the most effective campaigns being run today operate on the basis of an emotional sell.

(BTW – I define a candidate as passive if that individual is not committed to moving jobs, in the same way, that if you go onto Right Move to look at houses when you are not actively looking to sell your current house, then you are a passive house viewer).

Going back to this transition in mindset though; In the past, when a company wanted to advertise a job, they gave it an appropriate job title, indicated the location and salary on offer, then listed the essential and desirable requirements. A brief explanation of the job role and an introduction to the company may or may not have been included. It was then a case of advertising it onto the most relevant local and industry specific publications.

Many of you may think that not much has changed, except that we are now online and have more advertising channel options; and you would be right, as more than 80% of jobs advertisers still follow this traditional formula and wonder why they don’t achieve great results.

Candidates would also traditionally search for jobs in a similar logical manner. In the past, this would have been in the job section of the news press and in industry publications and more recently online, mostly within dedicated recruitment sites or job boards. They would search by job title or industry sector, salary, location and use their key skills to match up against any jobs that they find.

However, looking for a job when you already had a job was not something that many people did in the past and has only significantly grown in popularity in the last 15 years.

If you are looking for the most significant transformation in recruitment in recent times, then I could put a pretty strong argument forward to support this being it. At a time when we have the lowest levels of unemployment for over 10 years, it is a paradox that we have more people searching for jobs don’t you think?



Passive searching is on the increase and recruitment strategy needs to adapt to accommodate this.

This lack of ‘commitment’ by the prospective candidate is at the centre of the interview No-Show problem and until we acknowledge it, understand it and adapt to accommodate it, the business will continue to suffer from undesirably high levels of interview no-shows.

So with this in mind, let’s explore what we are doing that contributes towards this unwanted situation:


Your application process is probably too impersonal.

In an age of digital communication and automation, recruitment has become very impersonal. When there is little or no human engagement involved, it becomes much easier for candidates to drop out of the process without any explanation and without feeling too bad about it either. Treat them like a disposable commodity and this is the result.

In the Linkedin article thread, Katie Keller stated… “I try and ‘humanise’ the process a bit, as I am more of a networker, not a recruiter. Grab a beer or a coffee with a candidate if they seem like a Rockstar, or if you really are interested in their skill set”.

I think that this is a great approach when considering the hardest to fill roles or where you have attracted that ‘exceptional’ individual into your prospect list.


Click here to download our ebook expert tips on improving interview attendance


We are often too slow to respond.

In a world of instant gratification, the speed of your response is critical to the recruitment process. A recruiting manager that I recently spoke to told me that he had invited 5 candidates to interview just 3 weeks after posting his job (and 1 week before his application deadline). However, he didn’t speak to any of them at all, he just sent an invitation to interview email and letter. He told me just one person turned up. The applications had all arrived within the first few days and it had taken more than 10 days before they were contacted about the role. By this time they had all either secured another job or changed their mind. Communication is key and that MUST include at least one telephone call with the applicant before the onsite interview takes place. If you don’t do this you are either very naïve or very lazy.

Kim Palomarez stated in the Linkedin thread “If you are talking about entry level positions, in a market like we have right now, then you have to move very quickly. This is the biggest challenge I hear the most about when talking to my clients. This is a job seekers market and they have many choices. If you call someone Monday to set up an interview for Wednesday, they are already working somewhere else by Tuesday”.


Adapt your Tone.

91% of searches online are performed by people that already have a job. It’s a candidate driven market and you need to remember that doesn’t change just because they have applied to your vacancy. Be grateful that these people are willing to consider your opportunity and treat them like a prospective customer that could be worth a lot of money to you. Quite often I get the impression that companies still think that the application and interview process is all about them. Well unless you have a brand like Virgin or Microsoft that people genuinely aspire to work for, I am afraid its most definitely more about the candidate and this needs to be happening in your pre interview discussions.


Don’t be tight.

When a candidate accepts an invitation to an interview with you, they are often giving up a days holiday to meet with you and are likely to have given up time in their evenings to prepare too. Statistically, over 60% of us hate doing interviews, so the fact that it will cost us to travel to that interview too can be an issue. When you consider the time lost and the opportunity missed when someone doesn’t show up to an interview, then you should really consider offering to cover travel costs for anyone outside of the local area at least. Just by offering this you set a completely different tone that says, we are serious about you and your application.


Make the interview more appealing.

There is an inherent fear of the unknown that we all have and when people are unsure of what to expect, they often expect the worst. So outline the interview process structure. Who will be in attendance? and explain your objectives. If it sounds unappealing, then it probably is and you might want to try and turn the interview into a positive experience that will encourage the applicant to say yes if they are subsequently offered. Include a site tour, or offer to take time at the start of the interview to tell them about the company and its history etc.

Sally McKinney and Joseph Jackson, both suggested surveying your no-shows and this is something that I too endorse. We have discovered so many insights to candidate behaviours through surveys over the years.

I hope that this has been useful, but if this topic is of interest to you and you would like to discover more practical solutions to overcome this issue, then please download our free Top Tips to minimising interview no shows, with practical advice and a step by step guide on things that any company can do to address this frustrating and annoying situation.


More about the author

Smart recruit Online CEO Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has over 20 years of business management experience, across Sales, Marketing, Recruitment and Technology environments. In 2013 Mark won the Chambers of Commerce award for innovation in business. He is a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of several companies including F10,  Smart Recruit Online and The HR & Recruitment Resource Library.

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last seven years he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications.

Mark also delivers keynote talks and training to recruitment teams in both public and private sector organisations, on writing better advertising copy, targeting passive candidates and understanding candidate behaviours online.


Offering support for both recruiters and on-site HR workforces, Smart Recruit Online helps businesses find and hire the best talent more efficiently. To see how SRO can improve your talent acquisition, campaign management, and candidate screening workflows, book a demo today. 

Book a demo


Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Wording in Your Job Advert and Discrimination
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Wording in Your Job Advert and Discrimination by Elizabeth Babafemi, B.Eng MCIPD – MBA – Doctoral PhD Student

If we only recruited people from a certain age range, race or gender, life would be pretty dull!! I once saw an advert that read: the company is looking to recruit an individual with “at least seven years’ experience (preferably continuous)”


Why is this discrimination? 

It is arguably discriminatory on the grounds of age and, possibly, sex. The fact that the advertisement specifies a requirement for individuals with “at least seven years’” experience invariably means that older applicants are more advantaged than younger applicants since they are more likely to have at least that level of experience. Furthermore, the fact that seven years’ continuous experience is stated to be preferable arguably means that women are being put at a disadvantage because they are more likely to have had a break in employment (to care for children, for example) than their male counterparts.

The legislation can be a somewhat difficult and blurry area to understand, especially as many employers are unaware of how the wording in their job advert can be seen as discriminatory. It is no wonder you may have heard a number of cases about businesses and companies facing legal action over discrimination in their job advert.

Below is by no means a definitive list, and there are a number of other ‘protected characteristics’ which should be carefully considered when drafting a job advert, particularly, of course, if they are requirements for the job.

If in doubt, keep the language neutral. That way you may ensure you don’t miss out on the right candidate for the role and that you keep your recruitment equal, and inclusive.


Bilingual Bias

Over the years, I have seen some ads state: ‘English must be your first language’. Admittedly the jobs being advertised are writing jobs that require a certain ability with words, but surely the question of whether English is your first or second language should not come into it. Could you not be someone who speaks both languages equally fluently?

Some job boards are visited by lots of people from foreign countries, I would be more inclined to interpret ‘English must be your first language’ as ‘no foreigners please’.

To attract the right quality of applicants, we should get our adverting process right.  We should plan and carefully consider the content and design of the job advert.  We should also identify the most suitable media for advertising the job in order to reach an appropriate audience.

There are lots of rules around writing job adverts, mostly based around best practice to attract candidates. But certain rules are there to ensure you don’t fall foul of discrimination law.

Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. This could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get certain qualifications.


When can you discriminate?

You can specify that the successful applicant will be from a particular group if it’s a requirement of the job. For example, people under 18 cannot legally sell alcohol.


Avoiding sexual discrimination

As much as you might want to balance up your gender heavy department with a member of the opposite sex, this is strictly forbidden to ask for within a job advert.

Gender-specific terms could also be problematic. Using ‘bar maid’ or ‘handyman’, for instance, implies that the job is only available to one or other sex. ‘German-speaking sales rep’ should be used over ‘German sales rep’, because it would be discriminatory single out one nationality, if it’s just the language skill that’s needed.

There are certain roles where there is a genuine occupational need for an employee to be of a certain gender, such as within single sex institutions like hospitals and prisons. You are never allowed to consider that hiring one gender may provide a benefit in terms of physical performance, unless that performance is of a thematic nature (such as the need for a male to play Father Christmas).

a) It is vital to prepare a job description and person specification as these can provide us with a useful basis for designing a job advertisement.

b) All forms of job advert are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

If you are a disabled person

If an employer does advertise a job, they must not state or imply that a job is unsuitable for disabled people generally or for a disabled person with a particular type of impairment, unless there is a very clear job-related reason for this.

For example:

An employer is advertising for somebody to deliver parcels on their own; the advertisement states that the successful applicant will have to drive and be able to lift the parcels. The need to drive is clearly required for the job. Although it may exclude some disabled people e.g. those with a sight impairment, it would not exclude all disabled people. It would therefore be wrong – and discriminatory – to put ‘unsuitable for disabled people’ in the job advert.

c) Employers must not publish adverts that indicate, or could reasonably indicate, an intention to discriminate.

For example: An employer advertises for a ‘waitress’. To avoid direct discrimination because of sex, they should advertise for ‘waiting staff’ or ‘waiter or waitress’. The job title you use should therefore never be gender specific – ‘waitress’, ‘salesman’ and ‘manageress’ are all terms that fall foul of the law.

d) Adverts should contain enough information about the job and the organisation to help applicants decide if they are suited to the job.

e) Adverts must not target applicants with a particular protected characteristic, unless this is an occupational requirement or lawful positive action.  Positive action may be used to encourage applications from under-represented groups

f) Relying upon ‘word of mouth’ recruitment has the potential to indirectly discriminate.

For example:

A large employer recruits workers to driving jobs through word of mouth. This results in everyone who has a driving job being a member of the same few families or a friend of these families. All the family members and their friends are white, despite the workplace being in an area of high ethnic minority population. Unless the employer can objectively justify the way drivers are recruited, this is likely to be indirect discrimination because of race.

g) Employers may be liable for the discriminatory actions of third parties, who are advertising on their behalf.

h) Employers must not put pressure on third parties to discriminate in the recruitment process.


Avoiding age discrimination

Age discrimination is an area to consider when writing job adverts, and it is one of the biggest changes in process that most employers will have to go through in order to comply with all discrimination regulations.  The rules now not only cover stipulating upper or lower age limits for job applicants, but also implied terms such as ‘youthful’, ‘dynamic’ or ‘mature’. All these terms could be seen as excluding someone from applying for a role based on their age.



Even asking for a certain level of experience from candidates could be deemed as discriminating against someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to gain that experience as they are too young. There are plenty of ways of rephrasing your job advert, such as asking for candidates who have demonstrated a certain task, but putting a number of years on how long they have taken to achieve that task is definitely out of the question.

i) Employers must provide temporary agency workers/fixed term employees with information on relevant job vacancies.

Other examples: A job advert requiring that applicants must be clean shaven could put members of some religious groups at a disadvantage. However, if this is fully justified by stating that it could be a genuine hygiene risk if individuals handle food, then this criterion would then be lawful.

Avoid gender-based discrimination: Ensure your job title doesn’t include terms like “waitress”, “admin girl”, “mail man” or “salesman”. That way you won’t find yourself in hot water.

Avoid racial discrimination: Even if the ability to speak a foreign language is critical to the role, it’s the proficiency in the language as opposed to one’s country of origin that is key. So “the ability to speak Mandarin is essential” is far more favourable than “you must be Chinese”.

Avoid age discrimination: Never mention an age requirement or refer to a specific number of years someone has worked in a particular field … ever.

Questions you can’t ask when recruiting: You must not ask candidates about protected characteristics and their health; if they’re married, single or in a civil partnership; if they have children or plan to have children.

You can ask about health or disability if: There are necessary requirements of the job that can’t be met with reasonable adjustments; you’re finding out if someone needs help to take part in a selection test or interview; you’re using ‘positive action’ to recruit a disabled person

Date of birth: You shouldn’t ask someone for their date of birth on an application form. People selecting candidates for interview or interviewing shouldn’t be influenced by someone’s age.  You can include a question on date of birth as part of an equality monitoring form if you use one.

Criminal convictions: Applicants don’t have to tell you about criminal convictions if they’re spent. You must treat the applicant as if the conviction has not happened, and cannot refuse to employ the person because of their conviction.  There are some areas of employment that are exempt from this rule, e.g schools.

Trade union membership: You must not use membership of a trade union as a factor in deciding whether to employ someone.

Disabled people: When recruiting you can treat a disabled person more favourably than a non-disabled person because of their disability.


Examples of cases of discrimination

There have been some interesting developments in case law surrounding job advertisements.  A few years ago, the employment tribunal held that a job advertisement stating that a particular teaching role “would suit candidates in the first five years of their career” was indirectly discriminatory on grounds of age since more experienced (and hence older) applicants were put at a disadvantage (Rainbow v Milton Keynes Council 1200104/2007, 2 June 2008).

In that case, the employer tried to justify the wording in its advert by claiming that it had financial constraints and essentially could not afford to employ someone of the claimant’s seniority for the role in question. However, it did not provide any detailed evidence to show this and did not demonstrate that other types of financial strategy had been taken into account to achieve a similar cost-saving. The tribunal rejected the employer’s argument because there was a lack of evidence of the cost issue, the employer had not explored other cost saving measures and costs was the sole justification put forward by the employer.

The upshot of that case was that if employers are to rely on cost as a defence, they should combine it with other reasons and also provide evidence to support their arguments – a mere assertion of costs as a reason is not good enough. The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in the past held that there does not need to be an identifiable victim or complainant for there to be a successful claim of direct discrimination against a company (Centrum voor gelijkheid van kansen en voor racismebestrijding v Firma Feryn NV C-54/07). The facts of that case were quite extreme. A director of the Belgian company in question (which specialised in the installation of doors) made a public statement to the Belgian media that the company would not employ Moroccans as its customers did not want immigrants in their homes. Proceedings were brought by the Belgian equivalent of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK.

The ECJ held that the company’s public statement was direct discrimination contrary to the EU Race Discrimination Directive, even though no individual had brought a claim as a result of it. The court rejected the argument that there could not be direct discrimination where the employer did not actually act on the discriminatory statement. The statement had a humiliating and demoralising effect on the people of the ethnic origin in question who would have been interested in applying for the position. It would also discourage such people from applying and was therefore discriminatory. In the UK, it is already unlawful to publish advertisements that display an employer’s discriminatory recruitment practices. However, although this case is likely to have a limited impact in the UK because the Equality and Human Rights Commission does not have the power to bring a claim against employers where there is no identifiable complainant, employers should still be alive to the issue and consider the wording of their job advertisements very carefully.

*This entry was posted in Pulse and was written by Elizabeth Babafemi, B.Eng MCIPD – MBA – Doctoral PhD Student


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Elizabeth Babafemi

Elizabeth Babafemi, B.Eng MCIPD - MBA - Doctoral PhD Student

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