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



With all the recent press regarding ‘no fault dismissals’ and ‘Settlement Agreements’, it is no wonder employers are confused with regards to what they can and can’t do when it’s time to part ways with an employee.

Fundamentally, reasonableness and due process should remain at the heart of what we do, however, there comes a time when even the most patient of employers says enough is enough.  When resolving any employer/employee dispute, it is important for employers to recognise that no action is without risk.  Even the most carefully executed process will not prevent a motivated ex-employee from raising tribunal proceedings and potentially being successful.

However, we all know that the riskiest business of all are dismissals that come as a result of an ‘off the record’ conversation, often held on what an employer thinks is a ‘without prejudice’ basis.  So when is the right time to have such a conversation and on what basis?  Whilst the Government has shelved plans to allow so called, ‘no fault dismissals’, which were tabled as part of the Employment Law Review, this summer, it is expected that we will see the introduction of ‘Settlement Agreements’, an updated version of what we have all come to know as ‘Compromise Agreements’, through which an employer can gain protection from unfair dismissal claims.  These ‘Settlement Agreements’, will come at the end of a process that will begin with a proposal to end the employment relationship which can be tabled by either the employer or indeed the employee.

Using standard templates and ACAS code of practice, employers will be guided end to end through the process.  Whilst all this sounds favourable for the employer, it is important to note that this process will only offer protection in unfair dismissal claims.  Claims that include other breaches such as discrimination, evidence of automatic unfair dismissal, e.g. Whistleblowing, or where there is evidence of ‘improper behaviour’, such as coercion will not be protected. It is also important to note that any conversations held prior to obtaining a signed ‘Settlement Agreement’, can still be admissible in Employment Tribunal proceedings, unless held on a ‘without prejudice’ basis.

The rules for such a conversation are that they should be only be held in ‘a genuine attempt to settle a dispute’ and both parties should be aware of exactly what that means.  This suggests that employers should explain fully what ‘without prejudice’ means, prior to the commencement of such discussions, preferably in writing; and should remind the employee of the same at the start of any face to face or telephone discussions.

Whilst Solve. welcome the Governments plans to ease the ending of fractious employment relationships, it is clear that this particular process is not black and white.  Therefore, even if you believe that you have a straightforward case of unfair dismissal, we would suggest that you review any proposals for ending the employment relationship with a specialist HR and Employment Law practitioner.

If you have any questions or would like some more advice please contact us on