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Hiring Process

Do you dread the thought of finding qualified applicants to fill open roles in your organization? Do you find yourself hiring with a sporadic, unorganized hiring process? Hiring is time-consuming and selecting the wrong candidate can be costly. If your organization lacks a structured hiring process, you’re probably spending more time than desired conducting interviews and searching for suitable applicants.

Continue reading to learn more about the hiring process, why it’s important to have a defined hiring process, and how to hire a new employee!

Why it’s Important to Have a Defined Hiring Process

Without a structured process, you’re banking on chance to land suitable applicants for the role you’re hiring. You’ll strike gold every now and then, but hiring on the fly often results in unnecessary expenses, wasted time, and high turnover.

A strategic, defined hiring process strengthens your organization’s ability to achieve and exceed goals. Crafting a formulated hiring process benefits your organization in several ways, such as:

  • Ensuring you are prepared for any circumstance, like an employee leaving or an increased demand, and can fill open roles promptly with quality new hires
  • Building a hardworking, loyal staff by determining hiring criteria that identify skills and traits required for success in the position and organization
  • Reducing turnover by hiring candidates that fit your company culture and possess the skills necessary to meet the demands of the role
  • Growing your business by attracting qualified talent driven to contribute to your company’s success

It’s one thing to understand why you should have a defined hiring process. It’s another to know how you establish an efficient, strategic process for hiring new employees.

How to Hire a New Employee

You can’t sit back and expect qualified candidates to come knocking at your door whenever there is an opening. Hiring the right employee requires a strategic multi-step process that:

  • Pinpoints organizational needs
  • Clearly defines the open role
  • Attracts high-quality applicants
  • Identifies candidates with relevant skills and personality traits
  • Confirms the validity of information provided by top candidates
  • Leads to the selection of the most qualified individual
  • Prepares the new hire for success in their role

The hiring process varies depending on the organization and the specific role you’re hiring for. At a high level, hiring best practices consist of these steps:

Continue reading to learn about each step of the hiring process in-depth.

1. Develop a Staffing Plan

If your organization is new or anticipating growth, a staffing plan ensures all departments are aligned in a collaborative effort toward progress. The plan is based on the organization’s annual budget and future goals, both short- and long-term.

The first step of the hiring process, a staffing plan, identifies two important factors:

  1. How many roles and positions need to be filled
  2. What skills your organization needs

While HR spearheads the planning, interviewing managers in each department ensures that you understand the exact duties required from each position.

2. Conduct a Job Analysis

Before writing a job description and recruiting applicants, you need to understand what activities the role should include and how it co-exists with all other positions in the organization. This systematic study of the prospective role is referred to as a job analysis.

Often conducted within a staffing plan, or simultaneously, a job analysis determines the purpose of a position, the qualifications necessary to succeed in the role, and the working conditions where it is performed. Broken down into three main elements known as KSAs, a job analysis evaluates:

  • Knowledge: The body of information required to perform the job
  • Skills: The level of proficiency necessary to perform the job
  • Abilities: The capabilities necessary to perform the job

When conducting a job analysis, you want to determine performance criteria for the position and identify what KSAs are required to succeed. Additionally, complete a job evaluation to determine the appropriate salary for the role.

3. Create a Job Description

Once you’ve identified the duties, tasks, responsibilities, and functions of a position, it’s time to transpose this information to a written job description. A job description serves as the primary recruiting tool that describes the work to be accomplished and highlights the requirements necessary to be successful in a particular role.

Job descriptions are commonly formatted using the following structure:

  1. Summary of the position
  2. Essential functions
  3. Supervisory responsibilities
  4. Working conditions
  5. Minimum qualification requirements
  6. Success factors

Physical requirements must be included in a job description to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Status of the position should be listed as well.

4. Establish Hiring Criteria

Before publishing the job posting, you should develop hiring criteria to standardize the measurement of each candidates’ compatibility for the job based on their skills and experience.

This is usually a tag-team effort between the recruiter, HR, and the hiring manager to align on all the qualifications, requirements, and expectations of the role. The main goal of establishing hiring criteria is to:

  • Identify what tasks the position will complete and their desired results
  • Determine which skills and traits are essential for success in the role
  • Compile the required KSAs a candidate must possess
  • Define your organizational culture and the characteristics of a successful individual within the company

Aim to create a quantitative measurement system using the job description. This ensures that all candidates are equally assessed based on their KSAs and personality traits. Not only does this craft the mold of the ideal candidate but it also reduces the risk of bias throughout the hiring process.

5. Recruitment

The groundwork is set and you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a candidate. Now, it’s time to spread the word and start attracting qualified applicants.

When hiring for a new position or filling an existing role, determine whether to recruit internally, externally, or a combination of the two. If you consider internal candidates, establish an internal hiring process if one doesn’t already exist.

You can use an employee referral program that offers incentives to current employees who recommend qualified external candidates for the position. Increase the visibility of your job post by listing to multiple sources like Indeed, Glassdoor, and other online job boards. Leverage LinkedIn for its job listing capabilities or recruit through mutual connections. You can recruit external candidates through other strategies, including:

  • Participating in job fairs
  • Recruiting at local colleges or trade schools
  • Hosting open houses at your workplace
  • Using a recruiting agency

Your employment brand — the perception of what it’s like to work at your organization — is essential to recruiting the right candidates. Along with creating a positive candidate experience, you can enhance your employment brand by establishing a strong reputation and image for your organization. By positioning your company as the employer of choice in the market, you’re more likely to attract applicants that want to work for you and who fit within your organizational culture.

6. Initial Resume Screening

With recruitment in full swing and applications coming through, the next step in your hiring process is to screen resumes for qualified candidates. The goal of resume screening is to identify a pool of candidates that meet the minimum requirements for the position. Fortunately, applicant tracking systems (ATS) allow you to filter resumes and online applications for terms relevant to the position.

There’s no need to spend a great deal of time at this stage. Only spend the time necessary to get a sense that the applicant possesses the basic skills and the required education, credentials, or certifications for the job.

Look for red flags that indicate a poor candidate, like resumes with no dates of employment, unexplained gaps in employment, frequent job changes to positions with fewer responsibilities, and accomplishments that can’t be linked to provided experience.

Alternatively, an upward career progression and relevant achievements indicate a strong resume. Once you’ve gathered a pool of qualified candidates, invite each of them to a brief screening interview to compile more information.

7. Complete Preliminary Screening Interviews

Candidates that meet the minimum requirements continue to the next step of the hiring process: preliminary screening interviews. Completed via phone, video conference, or questionnaire, screening interviews serve two main purposes:

  1. Determine whether the candidate’s KSAs warrant a second interview
  2. Identify whether the candidate’s salary requirements fall within your salary range

Along with KSAs and salary requirements, screening interviews serve as an opportunity to share initial information about the role and the organization with the candidate. Likewise, the candidate can ask any questions they may have.

As with resume screening, you can keep this step short and sweet. Prepare a set of questions that gather information about the job requirements and hiring criteria. If there are any questions or areas that need clarification about a candidate’s resume, this is the time to address them. Set aside time to explore the candidate’s background and cultural fit. The preliminary screening interview should last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes — enough time to determine which candidates pass through to a second interview.

At this stage and during any subsequent interviews, there are laws and regulations you must follow when asking questions. Do not ask any questions about a candidate’s age, gender, religion, race, color, national origin, or disability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reviews all potential employment discrimination cases, so you should always have a job-related reason for asking any question to avoid legal issues.

8. Conduct Second Round Interviews

After you’ve narrowed down your list of top candidates to those most qualified after the preliminary screening, invite them for a second round interview. This is the official face-to-face interview and the stage of the hiring process where you’ll gather all remaining information required to make a decision.

Second round interviews typically follow an itinerary similar to screening interviews. Open with questions that gather information about KSAs, background, and qualifications. Then, share information about the position and organization before opening up the floor for questions from the candidate.

In this step, many organizations use behavioral interviewing questions to assess the top candidates. Behavioral interviewing strategies use previous experiences to gauge whether an applicant’s past behavior indicates they will be successful in the position they’re interviewing for.

These interviews are traditionally held on company grounds, though an increase in remote roles and video conferencing capabilities have led to virtual interviews becoming equally prevalent. Ideally, at the conclusion of this stage, you will have an idea of which candidate to hire.

9. Conduct Additional Interviews (If Necessary)

Any interviews past the second round are optional. Depending on the role, you may have to conduct several rounds of interviews to find the best fit. Senior-level executive and specialized roles often require a more thorough interview process with several rounds.

Whenever possible, try to minimize the number of times the candidate has to return for additional interviews. If multiple stakeholders need to assess a candidate, try scheduling multiple rounds of interviews on the same day.

10. Complete Pre-Employment Screening

Following the interview process, you should complete pre-employment screening to verify the information provided by the candidate. In a perfect world, candidates would provide accurate information through every step of the hiring process. However, misleading resumes, falsified employment dates, unearned degrees, and other false information are common.

The first part of pre-employment screening is reference checks. This involves contacting provided references to validate dates of employment and confirm their title is accurate. If possible, inquire about the duties the candidate completed in their previous position and whether their reference believes the candidate meets the hiring criteria for the position they’re interviewing for.

Simultaneously, you should complete pre-employment background checks to avoid negligent hiring lawsuits and other issues in the workplace. The specific background checks vary by position, but common checks include:

  • Social security number (SSN) trace
  • Verification (employment, education, etc.)
  • Criminal records
  • Credit history
  • Driving records
  • Drug testing

As with all other steps in the hiring process, make sure to follow all laws and regulations to avoid employment discrimination.

11. Make a Hiring Decision

You’ve defined the role, screened resumes, conducted interviews, and completed pre-employment screening. It’s time to make your decision and offer the job to the candidate you feel is best suited for the role.

Often, the hiring manager will reconvene with other stakeholders that participated in the hiring process to review the information and make a decision. It’s imperative that you trust your decision-making ability and that the hiring process has identified the most qualified candidate.

12. Send Rejection Letters

While one candidate passed through and earned the job, there will be several other candidates who dedicated their time to interviewing for your organization that didn’t make the cut.

Sending a rejection letter can help the applicant feel they were treated fairly and make a positive impact on their perception of your company. Your ATS may include a feature to send automatic rejection letters, though drafting it yourself provides a personal touch.

To show that their time was well spent, offer insight into what skills or experience they should seek to be qualified for a similar position in the future. If possible, point the candidate in the right direction to acquire them.

13. Send an Official Offer Letter

With the top candidate identified and selected for the role, promptly provide a verbal offer to the individual. At this time, discuss items such as salary, incentives, and benefits. Let the candidate know a written offer letter will be sent shortly thereafter.

When drafting the offer letter, you should state your enthusiasm that the candidate is joining your team. Let them know that you’re as excited for them to work for your organization as you hope they are to join. Within the written offer letter, be sure to include the following information:

  • Their official start date
  • Starting salary
  • Incentives (if applicable)
  • Summary of their benefits
  • Reporting relationships

14. Job Offer Negotiation and Hiring

Be prepared for negotiations on the job offer. They should be expected and you shouldn’t take it as a negative sign. It’s crucial that you know what the salary range for the position is and your organization’s policy on where new hires start in that range. If the candidate is unwilling to budge on salary, consider offering additional paid time off (PTO), flexible work schedules, a hiring bonus, or other perks.

Give the applicant time to decide, but don’t wait too long. Should you fail to come to an agreement, you don’t want to lose other qualified candidates by taking too much time.

Once you agree on the terms, draft a legally binding contract for employment and have your legal team review it. The contract should state:

  • Job duties and responsibilities
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Start date
  • End date (if hiring for a contract position)
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure requirements
  • Non-compete requirements
  • Resignation or termination provisions including severance pay (if applicable)

Have the candidate sign, and officially welcome them as an employee of your organization.

15. Onboarding

The hiring process helps identify the most qualified candidates while the onboarding process helps ensure a successful transition onto the team. Essentially, onboarding is designed to help the new hire achieve the expectations and goals in mind when you hired them.

An efficient onboarding process will help the new hire feel comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, understand your organizational culture and tradition, and form strong working relationships with fellow employees.


This comprehensive overview of the hiring process explains each recommended step to attract qualified candidates and complete a thorough evaluation. Establishing a defined, intentional hiring process increases your chances of selecting the right fit the first time. By strategically maneuvering the hiring process, you can reduce turnover, improve company culture, and lead the organization toward accomplishing its business goals.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About the Hiring Process

How long does the hiring process take?
The hiring process varies depending on the employer, the position, and the industry. Hourly roles such as waitstaff or grocery associates may be filled within a week to 10 days, while salaried and specialized roles can take between several weeks and several months.
Who makes the final decision in hiring?
The hiring manager usually makes the final decision regarding who gets hired and who gets rejected. However, hiring managers, recruiters, and other key stakeholders who contributed to the hiring process will often meet and deliberate over the candidates.
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