All too often I get a phone call or email from a client who wants to fill a vacancy ASAP. This is usually because someone has handed in their notice or because they are expanding their business/client base. Now you might think that is fair enough. In today’s modern high tech business world, surely it must be easy to source good candidates quickly and get interviews set up at the speed of light, and to an extent that is true. But as I often say to my clients, would you be so quick to purchase some new IT equipment, change your telecoms provider or order some advertising and very often the answer to that is NO. You plan it, review your needs and set a budget. So why then are companies so obsessed with filling vacancies ASAP? Why do they leave planning recruitment to the last minute and why do so many companies plan on bringing in new people without planning just how they are going to do this. Very often line managers expect HR Managers/Recruiters to wave a magic wand and hay presto new employee appears. So I’ve put the following guide together to help hiring managers with this process.Below are 7 questions you need to ask yourself BEFORE embarking on a recruitment campaign.1) WHAT ADDITIONAL PEOPLE SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE GROWTH?When planning growth take into account that you most probably will need additional people resources, people with new skills, people who will fit into your current company culture. SO include ‘people’ in your strategic growth plans.2) HAVE YOU GOT THE TALENT WITHIN?Do you have internal talent you can promote, is this a chance to enhance the skills of someone who has shown loyalty and capability within your business already? Start looking at your existing employees when planning growth by getting your staff involved in your planning process. Promoting from within is a fantastic way to boost staff morale. It may be easier to promote someone who already knows your company values, is passionate about your business and is loyal to you. Train your talent up to the new role and then fill the more junior role externally. It is astounding how many good employees are overlooked for a glossy CV from outside the organisation.3) WHEN DO YOU NEED THE NEW RECRUIT TO BE EFFECTIVE?Think about when you need these new people to be effective and making a difference to your bottom line.I.E if you need your new sales person to be achieving target by April 2013, you need to account for the time taken recruiting and training this person. Also factor in the notice they may have to give their current employer. Don’t call your recruitment partner or HR Manager in March expecting the person you hire to be bringing in the goods within 4 weeks.4) WHAT MEDIUM TO YOU USE TO ADVERTISE, AGENCY v JOB BOARDS?You wouldn’t expect a new computer system to cost you nothing. You budget for upgrades, maintenance, repairs. The same principle should be applied to recruiting, professional recruitment services COST. How much you spend will vary from job board to job board and agency to agency.· Job Boards: Some have that magical word… Free, but they often come with a lot of spam-mail, other boards are expensive and make great claims about being No.1 with exceptional traffic figures. What the job boards don’t offer you is someone to filter through all the enquiries and applications, so you can end up with an inbox overflowing with emails from everyone claiming to be the perfect candidate and lots of canvassing calls from candidates keen to get noticed.· Recruitment Agencies: with fees ranging from 10% – 25% there is no hard and fast rule, how much you pay depends on your negotiating skills. But remember Recruitment Agencies are fee chasers. If a recruiter has two identical jobs, one at 10% and one at 20%, where do you think they are going to send their strongest candidates and who do you think is going to get the best service. So don’t be too quick to haggle a fee with your chosen recruiter.5) SET A TIME PLAN IN PLACE FOR INTERVIEWGood candidates don’t stay on the market for long, even in the current climate. Therefore once you have advertised your vacancy, set a closing date for applications and schedule time to review the applicants and respond to them. A good recruitment process will always keep candidates informed of their progress. Send an email confirming receipt of their application, follow this up with an email either confirming short listing or ‘with regret’. Have a day set aside of interviews, as this will give you a deadline to work to so you complete the short listing. Most importantly don’t leave good candidates hanging on, otherwise your competitors may snatch them before your very eyes.6) PLAN YOUR INTERVIEWSet yourself goals, what do you want to learn about that person? Think about the questions you are going to ask and what direction they could take the conversation. Ensure that you have a private room booked for interviews and provide water for the candidate (so they don’t choke if talking too much). Keep to your time slots. Letting an interview overrun can be unfair to the next person waiting outside the door, so keep an eye on the clock, you control the interview. Don’t let candidates take you off on a tangent.7) GET YOUR ADMIN IN ORDERCandidates deserve follow-up, even if this a simple ‘with regret’ email. ALWAYS follow-up interviews with correspondence informing the candidate of the outcome. This is not only good practise it is also a good advert for your business. REMEMBER that person could a customer one day or may be related to your next big customer. Once you’ve made a decision on who you want MAKE THE OFFER, don’t wait around because a good candidate won’t.Now I know sometimes you will be filling an existing role because someone has left your organisation and you feel you have to replace them ASAP. But the biggest mistake you can make is to hire quickly just because you need someone NOW. Make alternative arrangements, spread the workload between your team for a few weeks and get everyone to pull together or hire an interim/temp to cover the basics in the interim period. If someone has left your organisation it is an ideal time to evaluate the role, what can you change about the role to make it more effective. Can you enhance the skill set required and increase the level of responsibility? Take time to re-evaluate what you need and follow the above steps each time you are recruiting and you will find your new recruits stay with you longer and your entire recruitment process will become less stressful and much easier to manage.Failing that, outsource!