Has Britain got talent?

Zenex Solar’s managing director Liz macFarlane
Zenex Solar’s managing director Liz macFarlane
Hiring the best candidate is often fraught with difficulty. Liz MacFarlane, Zenex Solar, offers some pointers for getting it right

I sense a creak in the UK solar industry’s human resource infrastructure. The gap may have been there for a while but it’s only now, as the industry takes a confident stride forward that it’s becoming really apparent.

Zenex’s team is mainly self-grown in that most have developed from other companies within our group. Several have been under our roof for over 10-years and have diversified and learnt the solar industry from the bottom up. However, I do have to recruit externally sometimes and although you’d never know it to look at team now, we have had our fingers burnt in the past.

Recently, I’ve been asked how we’ve found such a strong team. I have some industry colleagues who are really struggling to find high calibre candidates. One contact asked me if I recruited ‘on personality’ to which I replied that it’s more about searching out competencies.

I’ve been able to fall back on my previous experience of the Pharma industry to make sure that I’ve found the right people and I’ve learnt that a candidate’s glowing track record in sales figures and smashed targets can really just be a smoke screen.

The most vital part of any recruitment process is to identify the objectives of the role, to recognise the key competencies needed to achieve them and then to unashamedly search for someone with those competencies. Warn them before the interview that they need to bring examples of how they’ve used influencing skills to get a result, or to demonstrate what drive for results looks like to them, or to show when their technical prowess has solved a problem

We have lots of great talent in our industry but we are growing so quickly that maybe we need to start bringing some in from other proven industries.

So the next time you’re recruiting and your candidate tells you they sold £1m of solar in 2011, don’t be afraid to ask them ‘Is that all? And, who didn’t?”