Candidates - Choosing Correctly During the Great Resignation

By Matthew Reymes Cole
22 Feb 2022

Businesses across the UK are facing one of the biggest staffing shortages in living memory. When lockdown lifted, many employees saw their opportunity to move to pastures new.

The result?

A whopping 1.1m job vacancies according to the latest count.

So, while many organisations are experiencing shortages, there is also a wealth of candidates out there, ready for a new challenge. This in itself may cause a problem. Our advisors have received many calls from employers who have more recruits for a job role than ever before, and have no idea how to narrow their choice down. Meanwhile, other roles that urgently need to be filled are being neglected.

How do you balance the playing field? And, how do you make sure you’re getting the right person for the job?

Here is Croner’s advice…

Choosing the right candidate

You’ve advertised a role you need filling and you’ve had a good response—now what?

This depends on the type of role and the number of candidates you’re dealing with. We’ve split this section into two parts: large pool, and small pool.

If the number of recruits you need to assess is in the double digits (or even triple digits) then take a look at the large pool section.

If you’re only dealing with a handful, take a look at the small pool section.

Read both sections for the most insight into selecting a candidate.

choosing the right candidate

Large pool

You can most effectively narrow down the number of candidates from a large book by shortlisting.


This method gives everybody an equal chance of success and will help identify the most suited candidates. To begin, you should create an application form that uses a series of standard questions. Include the most relevant questions to the role and/or test the skill of the candidate. Once you have put this form together, distribute it amongst candidates and ask for it to be returned by a set time/date.

To avoid unconscious bias during this process, you can remove the front page of the application form and assign candidate numbers instead. Another way to ensure discrimination does not occur is to have the forms assessed by a diverse recruitment team.

Aim to have a set number of candidates chosen at the end of the shortlisting process. If you set a target of 20 recruits, for example, you will filter through to the best of the pool.

Assessments & Interviews

Once you have your list, you need to assess and interview your candidates. It is up to you how many meetings you want to hold. For an entry-level role, one may suffice. For a senior role, you may need to conduct two or three.

However many interviews you conduct, make sure you’re assessing for competencies. If you haven’t already, you should determine the key skills for the role. Base each interview around one of these. If an individual doesn’t meet your requirements in one of these key competencies, then they’re probably not right for the role.

Using an agreed scoring method is a great way to do this. This helps maintain consistency across all interviews and makes it easier to objectively determine the best candidate.

For roles that require proof of prior work in the sector, you can ask for evidence from previous roles. You can factor this experience into your scoring system and face-to-face assessment.

If you need a more immediate demonstration of their skills, consider giving them a project or problem to resolve. This will test the practical applicant of their skills and their suitability for the role. If they’re a designer, give them a simple project and assess their results. If they’re a HR manager, give them a staffing issue to resolve.

Finally, if you’re really struggling, consider using an external recruitment agency. Though it lacks a more personal approach, an external body can assess the quality of CVs as they come in. This means you’ll immediately know which candidates to approach for interviews.

All of these methods can help you narrow down the candidates until you find the right fit.

Small Pool

When you have only a handful of candidates to choose from it can seem even harder to choose, particularly if you have a few great individuals to pick from. Assuming you’ve already had interviews with each, you have some choices. First, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Can the candidate do the job?
  2. How motivated are they?
  3. Will they be willing to learn new skills?
  4. Can they be coached?
  5. Do they fit your company culture?

If the answer to any of these is “no” you may need to consider letting the candidate go. If you don’t have enough information to answer one of these questions, consider holding a second interview to find out the answer.

If you haven’t already, seek out references and see what other people have to say about them and their work. In almost all cases, references will give good reviews of people. The key is to see if what they say about the person fits with what you are looking for. Have they left out anything that could be crucial to the role?

The advice given above should only be part of a much larger recruitment process. Nailing down tight procedures and having solid checklists in place will make your search for candidates more efficient and effective. We’ll look at this more in-depth in our next section…

how to recruit candidates

How to recruit candidates

The key to finding candidates in 2022 stays the same as it has always been. Find out what the candidates want and fulfil that need. What has changed is what recruits need post-lockdown. You may find priorities to be very different to what they were before.

So, what are candidates looking for now?

What workers want

It varies from industry to industry, role to role. But, we see some common themes. Common desires include:

  • A better work-life balance
  • A good company culture
  • Financial stability
  • Mental health support

To really understand what it is your workers are looking for you need to conduct research. You can begin with your existing employees.

What motivates them at work? What do they value the most about working at your company?

It probably goes without saying at this point that some degree of flexibility is highly attractive to candidates. Whether it’s flexible start and end times to the working day, or a shift to home-working, there is usually something you can do. If you’re really struggling to determine what your recruits want, you can always speak to one of HR advisors on 01455 858 132 to discover the latest trends.

The recruitment process

If you’ve just identified a role that needs to be filled in your company—that’s great! It means you can plan ahead to ensure you don’t end up facing either extreme: a huge influx of candidates, or none at all.

Here’s a few tips on how to make your recruitment process as efficient and effective as possible:

  1. Include as many details as possible in your job description

The better your initial job description, the better the quality of candidates that apply. It will also reduce the number of recruits submitting applications who aren’t suited for the role. If your job description is too vague, it may cast a wide net, but it will attract individuals without the relevant skills.

  1. Create a detailed recruitment strategy

Don’t write a job description, post it online, and hope for the best. Have a plan in place to maximise reach of your job ad, screen candidates, and shortlist them if necessary. You can do this via an external agency, or entirely in-house. If you do choose to do this yourself then write up a checklist and stick to it throughout the process.

  1. Use an employee referral scheme

If you are still having no luck attracting candidates, it’s time to mobilise your people. Provide an incentive to your staff to refer candidates for a role. This can be financial or another business benefit entirely. Typically, referrals take less time to hire and are high quality applicants.

For a full rundown of the recruitment process and other resources, see here.

Retaining staff during the great resignation

Retaining staff

Once you’ve taken the correct candidate on board, how can you ensure they stay?

This is a particular concern for those being hired through the Way to Work scheme, as you may end up with staff unfamiliar with work in your sector. In this scenario, what is to stop them from going through the initial training only to leave in search of a more familiar job in a few months' time?

Open communication is essential to retaining staff. Discuss their ambitions and concerns in an appraisal. You’ll find that, while money is often a huge incentive, it’s not everything. Usually, there are small adjustments you can implement to make life easier for the employee.

For example, one Gallup survey found that 89% of employees who received negative feedback felt disengaged at work. On the other hand, those that received positive feedback felt significantly more engaged, with only 49% feeling disengaged.

This doesn’t mean you should immediately stop giving critical feedback, or give feedback when it is unwarranted. But, it does show how a small change can make a positive impact on retention.

In roles where a certain set of skills is key, training and reskilling are essential. An employee who feels they can’t perform the role they are tasked with is an employee who is likely to be looking for jobs elsewhere. Make sure you check in with your staff to ensure they’re up to the task and provide support where necessary.

Expert support with recruitment and retention

The great resignation has thrown many companies into disarray when it comes to staffing. Getting expert support can put your business back on track. So call today for free initial advice from one of our experts on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Matthew Reymes-Cole

Matt joined Croner in 2007 as an employment law consultant and has advised clients of all sizes on all aspects of employment law. He has worked within management positions since 2017 and currently oversees a team within the litigation department, whilst continuing to support a number of clients directly.