Best in the business: ten tips to build a top team

Recruiting the team to work with you on your business is never easy, but if you are to succeed, then you need to do this well. Everyone has a different view on the best way to recruit and there will always be some luck involved. I’m not a professional recruiter, but I’m going to share the ten simple rules that have worked for me during my years in business.

1. Think local

Recruit people who live close enough to the office to be in there regularly, as this will massively help your bonding and team performance. Regional and virtual working can come later, after an office-based team is firing on all cylinders.

2. Do it yourself

Lead on hiring yourself to ensure quality control and because you, as the founder, will attract the best people. It’s good to get admin support, however, to help sift through CVs and put the best ones in front of you.

3. Be precise

Create a precise job specification itemising exactly who you are looking for and what you expect them to do. In the early days, I prefer to focus on relatively recent graduates as they’ll be affordable, driven and keen to learn.

4. Network

Use your primary social networks to post your job opportunities. You can also consider a reputable online recruitment company with a fixed fee for a job advertisement, for example for graduates.

5. Get talking

Personally conduct a day of telephone interviews on the best CVs, spending approximately 30 minutes per interview.

6. Create a shortlist

Shortlist the top handful of candidates and invite them in for one-hour face-to-face interviews. During this meeting, spend time building a rapport with them, as they have to like you as well as you liking them. Also look closely for the key traits of curiosity and passion to see if they possess these, or if you feel that with coaching they could develop them.

7. Two is the magic number

Always do second interviews, even if you feel certain that someone is right, as people often come across differently at second interview. At the second interview include a practical sales exercise requiring selling skills, to see how they perform under pressure. For example, you could explain what curiosity is and ask them to question you as if you were a prospect. Ideally, bring in one of your current sales people so you can get their opinion on the shortlisted candidates, and check chemistry with your existing team member.

8. Sleep on it

Never make a job offer on the spot — always sleep on it!

9. Do a reality check

Before you make a job offer, ask yourself three final ‘reality check’ questions about the candidate: Will this person work hard and be prepared to go the extra mile? Will you be able to coach this person, as it’s critical that they are not defensive and that they buy into the philosophy of continual improvement? Will they fit into your sales culture?

10. Make an offer

If the answers are all ‘yes’, and assuming they are as excited as you, you’re in business and can start making job offers. It can also be a good idea to adopt a ‘Noah’s Ark’ approach and sign up two sales people from the same recruitment round who you think will get on well, so they have a buddy to start with and you can train them together.

The above are only guidelines and obviously you should also use your own common sense and gut feel to hire the right team for your business. Give your new recruit(s) time to bed in and start making sales. Don’t go chasing more bodies until your current team is performing, as the quality of your people is much more important than the quantity.

Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine is out this month, priced £11.99 (published by Rethink Press). For more information, visit