How to find the right employee
It’s time to take on an employee. You need an office assistant, or a bookkeeper, or a receptionist. It’s simple, right? You just place an advert, interview a few people, and give someone the job.
Unfortunately, it isn't that simple, but we're here to help.
Knowing that you need an office assistant, or a bookkeeper, or a receptionist, is not enough. You need to take the time to create a job description and a person specification, and you should carefully plan the interview process.
After all, if you don’t know who you’re looking for, you’re never going to find them.
If you don’t put in the time in advance, you could end up with a poor selection of applicants. Even worse, you could end up employing completely the wrong person for the job.
The job description
You can get started right now. Grab a pen and some paper, and list each of the duties that will need to be carried out by your employee.
If you’re looking for an office assistant, this can include opening the post, dealing with enquiries, maintaining the filing systems, ordering stationery and managing your diary. Be specific.
There may be tasks that are solely related to your private practice, such as updating clinical records, shredding confidential documents, booking consulting rooms and scheduling appointments.
This list will form part of your new employee’s job description.
Here’s what else you should include in the job description:
- the job title
- the location of the job
- the main purpose of the job
- pay and other benefits
- the person to whom the job holder reports
The person specification
Here you’ll find out who you’re looking for. If you get this stage right, it will affect how you advertise for the job, who you select for interview and who you ultimately employ. Every stage of the recruitment process will run more smoothly.
Have a look at your job description, and use it to create a picture of the ideal person for the job. So, if your employee will be dealing directly with therapy clients, they will need to be polite, empathetic and good with people. They’ll also need to be trustworthy and discreet. If your employee will be managing your diary, they’ll need to be well-organised. If they will be preparing financial reports, they’ll need to have accounts experience or at least be good with figures.
And so on. Think about whether any particular qualifications are required for the position, and write these down. Don’t use the person specification to write a list of arbitrary requirements, such as they must like classical music or they have to have a good sense of humour.
And of course, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of age, race, sex, disability, religion or sexual orientation.
The next step - advertising
Probably the best way to get an employee for your private practice is by advertising in the local paper. You could also contact your local job centre. Or, you could go through an employment agency, but bear in mind they can charge a significant fee.
Here’s what you should include in your advert:
- a brief job description
- selected info from your person specification (if there’s room)
- qualifications and/or experience required
- how to apply
- the closing date for applications
How to deal with the responses
You’ll probably receive a large number of applications, which you will whittle down to a shortlist for interview. Those applicants who you have rejected at this stage should be contacted in writing and politely told that they have been unsuccessful on this occasion.
A face-to-face interview is a must if you want to get the right person for the job. Here are a few tips to making the most of the interview stage:
- prepare your questions in advance, and tailor them to the interviewee
- turn off your phone and remove any distractions
- use open questions, so that the interviewee can answer without saying yes or no
- make sure your interviewee is comfortable - offer them a drink and ask a few friendly questions about the journey or the weather
- don’t start off with a difficult question; you won’t get the best out of them by making them uneasy
- go through the job description with the interviewee, and tell them about your private practice
- ask questions that will help you find out if they are a good fit with your person specification
- give them an opportunity to ask questions, and provide honest and open answers - it’s important that they know more so that they can decide if your job is right for them
- you may wish to think about the sorts of questions that they’ll ask in advance, so that you’re fully prepared - for example, how much holiday will I get? Have a look at our article about employment law for more information about this issue.
Finally, at the end of the interview, tell them when they should expect to hear from you, and make some notes that you can come back to later when you are reviewing all the applicants.
Giving the good news and the bad news
You can contact the interviewees by phone or in writing - it’s up to you. You can also decide whether you want to give unsuccessful interviewees constructive criticism about their interview.
Want to know more?
More information about recruiting an employee is available on the following websites: