As a result of the recession, recruitment budgets have been slashed and Employers are seeing more applicants per position than ever before.  Therefore, at a time where savings and efficiencies are expected in all areas of business, the question Employers are rightly asking their HR teams and suppliers is ‘how can I make sure I get it right?’  Whilst one to one interviews have become the norm, even in small Companies, there are other options for hiring well and cost effectively.   Here we examine just a few:

Assessment Centres

The assessment centre or group interview has been around for some time in various guises, from the retail industry with its group interviews for seasonal temporary jobs, to recruitment agencies assessing and gauging their next consultants.  However, what they all have in common is that they really allow Employers to assess a Candidate’s  interpersonal, communication and problem solving skills – how they interact, whether they lead or follow, whether they are an influencer or easily influenced and just how do they deal with last minute projects?  The term “assessment centre” can make uneasy reading for Candidates and Recruiters alike.  Candidates fear a survival of the fittest, Lord Sugar style Board Room gruelling, while the Recruiter often sees more co-ordination, more administration and more headaches! The fact is though, some well-designed group exercises or role plays really let a Candidate show the Employer their true colours and can give a unique insight into a side of the Candidate that can be difficult to assess in a one to one interview.

Work Trials

The UK government is actively encouraging Employers to undertake work trials, promoting it as a “risk free” recruitment option.  Whilst nothing in business is completely without risk, the work trial does offer a valuable; first hand assessment of how a Candidate performs ‘on the job’ and how they fit with the team they could be working with in the future.  Pret a Manger are an example of a prominent organisation who has been using a form of the work trial as part of their recruitment process for years and are often cited by the CIPD as an ‘Employer of Choice’. Work trials offer Candidates the opportunity to work in the role for which they have applied, for a short period, e.g. half a day, whilst having their ‘performance’ assessed, prior to a final selection decision being made.  Work trials allow Employers a real, tangible way to gauge how someone will perform ‘in role’; however, they aren’t suitable for every role.  Therefore, before implementing, Employers should consider the time and cost that may be involved, particularly if the Candidate doesn’t work out!

Situational Interviews

A twist on the traditional competency based interview, where a Candidate is encouraged to focus on examples from their past employment, situational interviews look forward and ask “what would you do if…..”  Purists of the competency based interview would say that this is exactly what the competency based interview sets out to avoid, as this form of interviewing is based on the premise that past behaviour is an accurate prediction of future performance.  However, whilst the benefits of competency based interviewing are undisputed, entry level jobs, traineeships or apprenticeship may attract younger Candidates who probably don’t have work related examples to provide.  Thus, the situational interview allows would be Employers to level the playing field for these inexperienced Candidates.

The above are just a few examples of alternatives to consider outside of your business’s ‘standard process’.  The list of alternative ways for Employers to recruit and select goes on and could include methods such as computer aided interviews, the lunch-time interview (sometimes called the beer test), video interviewing and personality profiling, to name but a few.  However, the most important consideration for any Employer is what will work for you, your business and your Candidates.

Whatever your selection process of choice, Solve. are on hand to offer you guidance and support on managing your recruitment and selection, whether you need some advice on the creation of a Job Description or a fully managed end to end outsource, recruitment service, our team of experienced Recruiters can advise.  Should you wish to discuss any aspect of your recruitment and selection please contact us at



After attending the CIPD Scotland Centenary Conference in Glasgow and listening to the cases of social media successes and failures, Solve. were interested to find out if social media is viewed as a risk or a valuable communication tool by Business Owners, HR Professionals and Managers across Scotland.

We have also seen a rise in the number of enquiries to our team about supporting social media challenges and there have been many cases recently that highlight the perils of social media, such as employees being dismissed on the grounds of bullying and harassment for making inappropriate and disparaging comments on Facebook and cases involving the sharing of sensitive company information on sites such as LinkedIn.

All that got us thinking, how many businesses are integrating social media into their communication and engagement strategy and how secure are business policies on social media usage and the consequences?  We also wanted to know if HR teams were implementing social media strategies and if so were they purely about mitigating risk to the business or was it about being proactive and adopting social media as a communication and engagement tool.

We decided to send out a social media survey to over 100 CIPD Scotland Centenary Conference delegates from a cross section of business sectors.

The results demonstrated that whilst most survey participants used sites such as LinkedIn (92%) and Facebook (80%) for personal usage, only 20% of businesses use it to engage and communicate with employees.  However, our social media survey found that 72% of participants rated Social Media highly as a tool to be embraced by businesses to engage and communicate. This highlights a fantastic opportunity for HR professionals and Business Owners alike.

The few that do utilise social media as a communication tool mainly use Facebook and LinkedIn with Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Mail being the most popular features.

For the businesses that don’t use social media (72%) there were a variety of different reasons stated for not using it to engage with employees such as: organisation being too small, viewed as inappropriate, prefer to keep personal and work lives separate, preferring other internal forms of communication such as emails, meetings, intranet, etc.  Others, however, did state that they simply hadn’t implemented it yet as they were still unsure of the whys and hows, but could see the benefits of using it to engage with their employees.

As an external communication tool social media appears to be positively embraced as 84% of our survey participants use social media to engage with customers with the most commonly used being Twitter (85%), Facebook (70%), LinkedIn (65%) and YouTube (25%).

Over a third of the survey’s participants had dealt with issues within the workplace caused by social media.  There were a variety of issues raised such as inappropriate messages and photos being shared in the workplace, disparaging comments being made on Facebook about employees or the company and personal relationships becoming public.  There was one instance where and entire team’s dynamic was upset as a result of inappropriate photos and comments being posted after a team social event, this resulted in friction within the team and subsequently affected productivity.

Overall the survey’s participants’ main concerns around social media were that there is a lack of control, can damage reputations, misuse of company time, commercial risks, bullying and harassment and an increase in ER issues.  One participant commented that “the whole thing is a minefield” as it is hard to police efficiently.  The need, therefore, for the implementation of a robust social media policy has become more apparent.  When asked if they have an appropriate social media policy 76% of the survey’s participants stated that they had one in place with around half of those having a policy that covers usage in and out of the workplace.  Less than a third felt fully confident about handling a social media complaint.  Again highlighting the need for a robust social media policy within the workplace.

What’s clear is that social media is here to stay! Whether you view it as a risk or a valuable tool one thing is certain: it needs to be managed and controlled effectively.  Businesses need to consider the implications that social media can have on the working environment, HR function and employee performance.

The team at Solve are here to offer help and advice on any of the issues highlighted in this blog. Contact Us

If you would like a FREE copy of the social media report please email

Solve. have a number of blogs in the Ideas & News.



CIPD-100-Years-logo-leading HR

Solve. were delighted to attend and exhibit at the recent CIPD Scotland Centenary HR Conference in The Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow.  The conference was slick, informative and as always, centred on HR best practice.  One of the most motivational speakers was David Fairhurst, Chief People Officer, McDonalds who gave the Scottish HR audience a real insight into the value of young people in the workplace and why we should all be thinking about how we attract, train and retain younger workers.

Working with a number of organisations such as John Lewis, Whitbread and of course, McDonalds, Mr Fairhurst, highlighted the importance of taking young people seriously and showed that by really listening to what matters to them, employers can open up a world of talent that they might not otherwise have tapped into.  We all have a view of the younger generation.  We may feel that they’re not quite right for our organisations, taking up too much time, causing too much trouble or simply not having the skills and experience that we need to fill the gaps that a growing organisation can find themselves with.  However, Mr Fairhurst made compelling arguments for the younger generation as a talent pool of eager, hungry and resourceful employees, who engage with organisations where they can align themselves with their values and ethics.

Mr Fairhurst’s speech, made us here at Solve. really think about talent in a much wider sense and asking questions such as how do we know who the talent is within our organisations and when we do, how can we ensure that they are eager, hungry and resourceful?  How do we know they really are talent, or do we look at them as such because of what they can do for us today, rather than really looking to the future and the needs of our organisations as it grows and develops?

Talent Management is a key element of HR best practice that many small and medium sized businesses see as ‘not really for us’ or HR rhetoric that has no place in the real world.  However, the truth is that we are all guilty of overlooking the importance of understanding, developing and retaining the talent that is often right in our line of sight.   Recently, Solve. were able to help one of our Clients, who are looking to grow their business to the next level, to identify who the talent is within their business and what the traits and characteristics of those individuals are. Through a process of Career Conversations and Personality Profiling, Solve. were able to drill down to the detail of the participants education and training, career histories and future goals to create a robust and realistic view of the current talent within the business and support our client with how they can ensure through updated competencies and selection materials that they are recruiting the right people, into the right roles, who will engage and stay with their Company.

No matter how big our organisations we can all do with a little ‘Talent Management’, so here are our top tips to ensure that you know who the talent is within your organisation, how to get the most from them and replicate that talent for the future of your business:

  • Consider all your high performing employees, what makes them high performing?  Are these skills, abilities and attributes that are good for today or will they have the sticking power for tomorrow?
  • Once you know who your high performers are, talk to them!  Let them know that you value them and want to mirror their talents in future employees
  • Having gathered all your data, clearly define what talent means within your business and how you can replicate that talent in the future
  • Armed with your new knowledge, look at your Recruitment policy and process, where do you attract new employees from?  Could you benefit from widening your net and considering younger or older workers?  Do you use the same old channels or do you mix it up?  How do you select?  Quick chat over coffee or a robust selection process that gets the right people and gives you confidence that they’ll engage with your Company, stay with you and help push your business to the next level?
  • Consider introducing a formal Performance Management process, designed to motivate and engage existing talent, manage expectations and  catch any itchy feet before they start heading for the door

For more information on how Solve. can help you manage your talent, contact us at or alternatively contact us by telephone on one of our numbers below.