An Empty Office Seat – How to Fill it.

Hi everyone, I’m Julia Kernaghan from Project Ops and this week I’m discussing how to fill an empty office seat.

Having a complete team at work is fantastic, but when I have an empty office seat, I get excited. You must think that I’m mad. Why do I get excited? Because it means I get to find great, talented people to work in my team.  

For many managers finding a new team member is their worst nightmare. The team is one (or two) down, the work is starting to pile up, the team is unsettled and the thought of having to interview candidates is the last thing they want to do. It’s easy to see why managers settle for a candidate that can start immediately, even it they’re not exactly right.



Here are my tips to improve the hiring process, to take the angst out the recruitment journey and to enable you to find the right candidate, fill that empty seat and complete your team.


1. Review the team deliverables.

You’ve been given a great opportunity to review your team goals and deliverables. Take the time to look at the skills and experience of your current team members and how they are contributing to meeting your goals and targets. You might find some holes and gaps, and you now can do something about it. Create a matrix, do a gap analysis and be thorough. Your first thought shouldn’t be to hire the first person who walks through your door. 


2. Define the role description.

Now that you have a role to fill, scope it out! Clearly define what is it that you want and how that role is going to contribute to meeting the team’s goals and deliverables.  Outline the role and position requirements  including skills, experience, education, attitude, communication skills and creativity.  A clear position description will pave a smooth way forward; you’ll then easily be able to evaluate your candidates against the role requirements to determine the best fit. 


3. Test the candidate.

Use your position description to guide you with the questions that you want to ask in the interview so that you can elicit if their skills and experience are matching your requirements. Don’t hesitate to test the candidate, as let’s be honest, people do stretch the truth and leave things out. You want to make sure that you’re getting a candidate that can deliver what they say they can.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or for it to become bigger than Ben Hur. Give the candidates a task that’s relevant to role and deliverables.  Some examples includes, a sales pitch, a marketing plan, a social media campaign, a role-play. The task doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should help differentiate the candidates on areas of core competency for the role.


4. Include other managers.

Have other senior managers involved in the recruitment process, especially managers who will have interaction with the person in the role.  Having others involved provides additional perspectives that you might have missed.


5. Communication.

Remember that you are selling the role as much as you are interviewing. Candidates are looking for great leaders, and your communication style says a lot about the environment the candidate will work in. Communicate carefully and openly throughout the hiring process. Ensure that candidates are kept in the loop. Give them timely feedback on next steps and feedback on their interview performance. Give candidates the opportunity to ask questions along the recruitment journey. Generally, only one candidate will be offered the role, so ensure that each unsuccessful candidate walks away with a positive view of you and the company. 


6. Be pragmatic.

Let’s face it, you may have lost that perfect candidate at reference check stage or a candidate may have gone AWOL. Yes, it’s super frustrating, especially when you’re excited at the prospect of them joining the team and filling that empty seat. However, you need to be pragmatic and not take it personally. Go back to the beginning, review the team deliverables, take a fresh look at the skills and experiences that the role requires, and look again at the role description. This will help you re-energise so that you’re focused on the new wave of candidates that you’ll meet.

What I’ve learnt about searching for a new candidate is that it’s very important to have a robust hiring process especially a clear scope for the role and position requirements. Use the interview(s) to listen to the candidate, not as a chance to tell them all about your business or the role (although a short summary is key at the start). This is the time to establish if they have the experience, skills, attitude and motivation to be successful in your role.


How Project Ops can help?

Project Ops was established 3 years ago, with the aim to assist and educate small business owners on what their requirements are and how to ultimately streamline their staffing operations.

Australia’s employment landscape has become confusing and daunting for business. It's full of complex policies and changing legalities, is hard to understand and even harder to keep up-to-date with. With most business owners being extremely time-poor, finding the time to focus on HR is usually less of a priority. That’s where Project Ops comes in. With Project Ops, we make HR simple!

We can cover all your end-to-end recruitment needs; we can set up your new staff onboarding and induction process; we can assist with HR Advice and can guide you through any tricky HR situation; we can provide compliant HR Policies and HR documentation (such as Employment Contracts; HR Letters e.g. warning letters, termination letters; Forms; and Checklists); we can recommend, set-up and roll-out online HR management systems; we can set up your Performance Management system and guide you through the process; we can assist with team planning and role definition; we can assist with leadership coaching; and the list goes on! If you would like to discuss how Project Ops can assist your business, please get in touch!

Project Ops are one of Australia’s leading outsourcing specialists, providing some of Australia’s best talent to businesses of all sizes for one-off projects, short or long-term contracts. Specialising in Human Resources (HR), Recruitment, Business Operations, Change Management, Project Management and Event Management.