How to win the recruitment race

by Nicola Middlemiss03 Mar 2015
When an organization is incredibly fast growing, keeping up with recruitment demands can be an arduous task but HR manager Kelly Quinn says there is a way to do it without compromising on quality.

Quinn heads up the HR department at Nurse Next Door, a home-care service provider that’s been repeatedly recognized as one of the best employers in the country, and she’s had her fair share of recruitment challenges over the past 18 months.

Since September of 2013, the workforce based at Nurse Next Door’s headquarters – affectionately referred to as the HeartQuarters – has doubled in size, growing from 50 employees to 100.

“Bringing on board enough team members is definitely our biggest challenge,” Quinn told HRM. “You don’t just want to bring on anyone – you need to make sure they’re aligned with the culture so that the company can thrive.”

Big rewards

Despite the high demand for new employees, the HR department at Nurse Next Door carry out a thorough recruitment process aimed to attract and identify the ideal candidates.

“At the beginning of that process we have a great referral system,” explains Quinn. “Anyone from our call centre can refer someone they think would be great fit – once that person completes six months with us then the existing team member receives $750 cash.”

Of course Quinn concedes there’s a risk that employees will refer anyone and everyone in the hope of receiving $750 but she says the six-month clause is an effective safety net should they make it through the particularly thorough vetting process.

Team players

Every potential employee – from call centres staff to the new CFO – has to participate in a group interview to begin with, reveals Quinn.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to find out about a person’s core values,” she explains. “We can determine if they’re actually a culture fit before we get into the technical know-how.”

According to Quinn, applicants who refuse to go through the group interview aren't right for the company because they don't align with an important company core value; "find a better way." 

Once an applicant has made it through the group interview, they participate in a more traditional interview – but that isn’t the final step.

Top grading 

While top-grading is a favourite recruitment process in some industries, it’s fairly unheard of in others but HR manager Quinn says it’s essential to getting the best out of potential new employees.

During the process, candidates are invited to discuss their entire career history, from high school and post-secondary up to the present day. The practice is designed to identify an applicant’s professional motivators and frustrations as well as their preferred working environment and how they like to be managed – but the practice can be lengthy and just one session can take up to eight hours.

"Our most recent topgrade lasted from 8am to 4pm,” revealed Quinn, “so it’s a big investment on our part in terms of recruitment and hiring but really the rewards are immeasurable. You’re bringing on board people who can really understand their performance and you know what gives them energy and what is frustrating to them.”

The process might seem a little intimidating to candidates but Quinn herself was subjected to the entire treatment – including top-grading.

“I loved it!” she told HRM.  “I felt like it was a good fit for who I am – I was just being very honest about myself and it worked with what the company needed at the time.”


  • by Todd Sales 4/03/2015 8:15:59 PM

    The interesting thing with doubling the staffing numbers of an organisation is that 'cultural fit' is quite an enigma. Culture is dynamic in all organisations, but more so when you're doubling in size in such a short period. That is certainly a challenge but very rewarding if you can pull it off.

    With regards to the referral system, it's best utilized in areas where attraction is an issue. The logic is that people in specialist areas are more likely to have an existing network with 'like skilled' people. It's not clear in the article if this is the situation here.

    My only cautionary note is this - the caveat of ensuring the recommended employee is still there in 6 months before a payout is paid is some assurance that the person recommended meets minimum expectations. But it's no indication that this person was 'the best candidate' available - so it's important the remainder of the selection process doesn't apply to much weight to the 'referral'.

    Kind regards

    Todd Sales from

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