Higher quality hires

Marketing agency The Eleven was bruised by some costly employment decisions in the early days. Founder Ben Gateley says he has now taken a more serious approach to recruitment.

16 Jun 2016

‘People’ is often the cliched response to the equally cliched ‘What’s the most important thing in your business?’ question. Ben Gateley has made it an obsession over the past 10 years while running The Eleven with Rob O’Donovan. The two started the business in 2006 and now oversee a mini group consisting of four different agencies and 40 staff.

Gateley claims that he now devotes an hour and a half, three days a week, specifically to recruitment, regardless of whether he has a role open or not. We asked him for his insights.

What’s your main recruitment tip?

Personal recommendations are the best and I never use recruitment agencies. I think the type of person who jumps from job to job generally uses a recruiter. We have a lot of incentives for our own staff to recommend people they know using their own networks.

How have you built The Eleven entirely on recommendations?

The first five employees were amazing but it gets harder with the next phase and personal recommendations dry up.

What’s your approach to the interview process?

We used to have pretty free-flowing conversations during the interview in the beginning. Now we’re a lot more focused from the outset on what we’re trying to test and get a lot more people involved; junior, senior and different departments. We always do phone screens first, even if just for 10 minutes.

What do you look for in an interview?

With creatives, attitude can be tricky because you can easily just focus on their work. It’s only in a pressurised or social situation that you see their true personality and character.

What can be the impact of the wrong hire?

Negativity is contagious; others mimic it and very quickly you’ve got a negative culture.

How else have you adapted your recruitment process?

We really work the probation period now to test and track two things; whether they’re good enough for their job and whether their attitude is right.

This story is taken from Courier June/July 2016.