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Advertising and interviewing

Finding the right employee takes a bit of work, but the payoff is worth it. Keep an open mind when thinking about your ideal hire. The right person will bring new ideas and help your business grow. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way.

Step 1. Get familiar with employment law

Legally, there are things you can and can’t do or say when you’re hiring staff.

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You can’t hire (or choose not to hire) someone just because of their:

  • age
  • sex
  • race, colour or ethnicity
  • religious or ethical beliefs
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • marital status
  • family status, or
  • political opinions.

This is discrimination and it’s illegal.

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You can only ask an applicant to give you personal information in an application or interview if:

  • it’s relevant to the job, and
  • you need that information to make a hiring decision.

More information:

Step 2. Write a job description

You don’t legally have to write a job description for a new position, but it’ll help when it comes to writing an employment agreement.

A good job description should cover:

  • your business – what you do and where you’re going
  • the purpose of the position
  • the tasks and responsibilities associated with the role
  • who the new employee will report to – and anyone who reports to them
  • hours of work
  • any minimum qualifications
  • ideal skills and experience
  • how you’ll measure their performance, e.g. yearly reviews or bonuses.

You can also include things like:

  • key people or networks they’ll need to work with
  • language or cultural knowledge
  • fitness or physical requirements
  • anything else they’d need to do the job, like a driver licence.

Describing a job (external link)  — Employment New Zealand

Case study

Illegal job ad

Kapil is the editor of a culture magazine aimed at young Indian-New Zealanders. He wants to hire an Auckland sales manager and writes in the job ad that he wants someone young and of Indian heritage.

Kapil sends it to a recruitment consultant, who says it needs to be rewritten — it’s illegal to advertise a job that discriminates by age or ethnicity.

The recruiter points Kapil to the Human Rights Commission’s A-Z pre-employment guidelines [PDF, 335KB] (external link) to rewrite his job ad. Had it been published without change, both Kapil and the recruiter could be liable for breaching the Human Rights Act and Employment Relations Act.

Step 3. Advertise the position

You don’t necessarily have to advertise — but you do have to be careful about what you say if you do. A job ad must be accurate and non-discriminatory. That means you can’t use language that could be interpreted as seeking someone of a particular age, gender or race.

You should include:

  • any minimum qualifications, experience or requirements to do the job, eg a driver licence
  • whether it’s a full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed-term or casual position
  • any benefits like flexible hours, extra KiwiSaver payments or bonuses
  • the things that make your company a great place to work
  • how to apply.

You can’t state requirements for the role that would lead to discrimination, including anything related to a person’s:

  • physical appearance, eg hair colour or skin colour
  • gender
  • race
  • religion
  • age.

You can include an application form. Ask for a cover letter as well as a CV to get extra information about how responsibilities in previous roles relate to the job you’re looking to fill.

Job applications (external link)  — Employment New Zealand

Advertising jobs (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Where to place the ad

You have lots of options when it comes to where to advertise. Think about where the type of person you want to recruit is likely to look. Sometimes targeting a niche website or publication can be more effective (and cheaper) than casting your net wide.

You can:

  • use a recruitment agency – it’s expensive up front, but can save you lots of time and effort
  • target advertising to industry journals, magazines and websites
  • advertise on websites like  Seek (external link) Trade Me Jobs (external link)  or MyJobSpace (external link)
  • contact an Industry Training organisation (ITO) or training establishment that deals with workers in your industry.

Case study

Myth of 'over-qualified'

Sifting through applications for an engineering technician, Hoani is surprised to find Don’s CV. In his last job — engineering manager — Don led a team of 10. Hoani wonders why he’s interested in this mid-level role, maintaining and repairing machinery.

Don clearly has the technical knowledge. But Hoani worries Don may become bored in a less responsible role. He also wonders if Don’s skills are rusty after being in management.

Hoani keeps an open mind and invites Don to interview.

At interview, Hoani asks Don why he wants the job. He learns a mid-level position suits Don fine. After years in management, Don wants to shift gears. He still has the passion for engineering he had as an apprentice, and misses being on the tools. The hours and level of responsibility would give Don back his weekends. He has three grandchildren he wants to spend more time with. An old motorbike to get on the road. He’s also been asked to be a youth mentor by a local community group. With retirement savings, Don’s prepared for a lower wage.

Don has a good attitude and a lot to give. Hoani checks his references. Past teammates say Don’s easy to work with — a humble guy with the hands-on knowledge of someone on the floor. Hoani offers Don the role.

Two years on, Hoani is happy he didn’t write off Don as being too experienced. Don keeps their machinery humming and is generous with his knowledge — coaching younger team members and being open to learning from them.

Coaching and mentoring

Get interviewing tips from an HR expert, and hear how a high-growth business interview to find the best people for their team.

Video transcript

Step 4. Interview and choose someone

Conducting a thorough review can take time — but it's well worth the investment. It's your chance to get a clear idea of what a candidate might bring to your growing business.

Once you’ve reviewed the applications and chosen your shortlist, decide if you’ll interview them with:

  • a one-on-one discussion
  • an interview panel
  • a written project or examination, or
  • a skills testing service.

Create a list of questions. Try to keep them concise and open-ended, so that the interviewee can give a detailed answer instead of just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

You can’t ask questions in an interview that aren’t relevant to the role, or that could lead to discrimination, like:

  • whether someone has children, or is planning to have children
  • how old the applicant is
  • whether they are religious.

Make sure you’ve prepared answers on:

  • the post-interview process
  • the likely range of employment conditions, including salary.

Interviews (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Selecting and appointing (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Tests and checks (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Sharing information about a job applicant to anyone, even by accident, is a breach of the Privacy Act.

Sharing information about a job applicant to anyone, even by accident, is a breach of the Privacy Act.

Contacting referees

Referees can give you great information that you might not learn during an interview.

Under the Privacy Act, you can only contact people applicants have specifically authorised you to speak to as referees. If they haven’t named someone you want to talk to, like a past employer, you can’t contact them unless you get permission first.

Can a potential employer collect information about me from someone other than my nominated referee? (external link) — Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Requesting a criminal record check for a new employee

If you need to check the applicant’s criminal record, you will first need their consent.

When can I check someone’s criminal record? (external link) — Office of the Privacy Commissioner

To request a copy of a new employee’s criminal record from the Ministry of Justice, you’ll need to complete an application form signed by you and your employee, and provide a copy of their driver’s licence or passport.

You’ll get a copy of their criminal record by post within 20 working days.

How to get a copy of someone else's criminal conviction history (external link)  — Ministry of Justice

Use the Police vetting service

You can apply to use the Police vetting service if your business cares for:

  • children
  • older people
  • people with special needs, or
  • other vulnerable members of society.

This makes it easier to check an employee’s criminal record. To use this service you will need to register with the Police.

Ask for Police vetting (external link)   — New Zealand Police

Selection and appointment

At this point, you’ll either have a good idea of who the right candidate for the job is, or have a few options to consider.

If you’re deciding between applicants, think about:

  • relevant experience — will the applicant be able to pick the job up immediately, or will they need training?
  • personality — how will they fit in?
  • attitude — do they seem passionate about the job?

You’ll also need to make sure the employee is entitled to work in New Zealand.

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