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Table of Contents
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. When the average cost per new hire is over $4,000, it’s worth doing everything possible to make the hiring process more efficient.
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:
- Develop a staffing plan
- Conduct a job analysis
- Create a job description
- Establish hiring criteria
- Initial resume screening
- Complete preliminary screening interviews
- Conduct second round interviews
- Conduct additional interviews (if necessary)
- Complete pre-employment screening
- Make a hiring decision
- Send rejection letters
- Send an official offer letter
- Job offer negotiation and hiring
Continue reading to learn about each step of the hiring process in-depth.
Step 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:
- How many roles and positions need to be filled
- 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.
Step 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.
Step 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:
- Summary of the position
- Essential functions
- Supervisory responsibilities
- Working conditions
- Minimum qualification requirements
- 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.
Tip: If you write a vague or boring job description, you’ll get vague and boring applicants. Spruce up and narrow down your description and you’ll get applicants closer to what you want.
Step 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.
Step 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. Leverage LinkedIn for its job listing capabilities or recruit through mutual connections. Increase the visibility of your job post by listing to multiple sources like Indeed, Glassdoor, and other online job boards. If you post to a job board, here are a few tips for success:
- Use Search Engine Optimization
- Make it clear what role the employee is expected to fill
- Explain what growth opportunities are available
- Explain what education opportunities are available
- Show your brand and company culture
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.
Step 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.
Step 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:
- Determine whether the candidate’s KSAs warrant a second interview
- 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.
Step 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.
Step 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. But even for less specialized roles, you’ll likely benefit from taking plenty of time to assess each candidate thoroughly.
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.
Step 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.
Step 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.
Step 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.
When companies stop communicating with candidates and don’t afford them the courtesy of rejection, they often get mad, so it’s in the best interest of your company to notify an applicant as soon as you know you won’t move forward with them. This gives the applicant a chance to move on and doesn’t keep them holding onto a false hope of a future opportunity.
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.
Step 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
Step 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.
Step 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.
Tips for Hiring
Hiring isn’t easy, but the best companies know that there are ways to make it easier. Following these tips will help you increase your chances of finding talented individuals for all of your open positions.
Tip 1: Find the Right Hiring Technology
Spreadsheets are a great organizational tool. They’re pretty easy to use, and everybody is familiar with them. However, they’re not the best when it comes to keeping track of people.
Spreadsheets are two dimensional, but people are not. For example, spreadsheets would be fine if all you needed to keep track of was your job candidate’s name and birthday. But when hiring, you need to keep track of names, contact info, notes on resumes, how interviews went, desired salary, personality, work experience, culture fit and where each candidate is at in the hiring process.
You want to be able to see your candidates in a snapshot, not on a line, and you want to store their information safely. Consider using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help with this. Not only do ATS store information, they also automate communication, help with candidate screening, allow you to post to multiple job boards at once, and more.
Tip 2: Talk Up the Job
As you post jobs online and interview candidates, don’t forget to make the job sound awesome. If you’re proud of your company culture, let it show; if benefits are top of the line, say so; if there are great growth opportunities, let candidates know. There’s no point in being shy to potential applicants about how cool your company is.
The candidate you hire will be glad you bragged a bit if you live up to expectations. That said, don’t go overboard. If your new hire’s expectations are not met, you’ll run into employee dissatisfaction issues that will lead to lower productivity or turnover.
Tip 3: Don’t Forget About Passive Job Seekers
In the recruiting scene, there are two kinds of candidates: active candidates and passive candidates. Active candidates are those out there looking to find a new job. These are the low-hanging fruit, but are not always the best. Some active job seekers are active because they can’t hold a job or they quickly become dissatisfied with their job. This is definitely not always the case, but keep it in mind.
Passive job candidates are not necessarily looking for a job, but they are open to new opportunities. Because they’re in no hurry to find new employment, you can take your time to get to know them. These candidates are much harder to reach en masse, but are worth looking for. Often, these people have to be found through networking.
If you’re struggling with unqualified job applicants, consider going straight to the source by reaching out to passive talent.
Tip 4: Let Specialists Do the Screening
Human resource departments are extremely valuable in business, but HR professionals are only specialists in their own industry. They are not typically experts in marketing, finance, accounting, and programming.
For any given job, find somebody that is an expert in the subject matter to be involved in the pre-hire screening. They will know what skills and experience are actually important for the candidate to have in order to be a great employee.
Applying this tip will keep you from discarding a lot of qualified candidates, and it will save the time you would have spent interviewing unqualified ones.
Tip 5: Communicate Effectively
There are few things in the hiring process more frustrating than a communication breakdown. Simply giving enough of the right information to your candidates will go a long way. Not only will it save frustration, but it will save your reputation as an employer.
According to a Robert Half study, 32% of respondents formed negative opinions of the potential employer’s decision-making ability based on a slow hiring process. Misinformation or lack of communication would only make this worse.
Tip 6: Listen and Respond to Candidates
Don’t let your candidates just rattle off their resume, give generic answers to your questions, and walk out the door. You can read their resume beforehand, so have them elaborate. Stories and experiences give more insight than a list of skills ever could, so get your candidates to open their mouths.
Tip 7: Make Sure to Define “Must-Haves”
Categorize the qualities you’re looking for into “must-haves,” “really handy,” and “would be nice.” This will save you a lot of headache and give you a quantifiable way to pick a candidate when it comes down to the final few.
On top of that, defining a few necessary qualities will help you avoid candidates that seem awesome “except for that one thing.” Choose a few things you refuse to compromise on and stick to them.
Tip 8: Don’t Hire Based on GPA Alone
The GPA of a new graduate or intern can tell you a bit about the kind of person they are, but it’s one number and certainly can’t tell you everything. Before you put too much weight on how high a college graduate’s GPA is, do some research.
How hard was their major? What was their class’s average GPA? Did they go to an elite school? Is GPA a good indicator of how good they are at the subject matter? Basically, just keep in mind that there’s no way a single number can properly sum up four years of education.
Tip 9: Second-Guess Your First Impressions
First impressions are unavoidable and often very helpful, but they can’t tell the whole story and are sometimes misleading.
Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman said: “If your first impression is a mistake, it can take a while to realize this, as your expectations tend to be self-fulfilling. When you expect a certain reaction you are likely to perceive it even if it isn’t there.”
Realize that your first impressions of a candidate can be very informative, but do what you can to inform them further. If you don’t, you could make a bad hire or lose a good one.
Tip 10: Hire Different Kinds of People
Good creativity and problem-solving comes by looking at issues in a different light, so hire people with various backgrounds, experiences, and methods. As long as they share your values and fit the culture, their differences won’t negatively affect your company.
Tip 11: Take Your Time (But Don’t Drag Your Feet)
While hiring too slowly is certainly a mistake that a lot of companies make, hiring too quickly is also pretty common. Having an open spot is like having an itch that you just want to scratch. But forcing a hire that isn’t a good fit is not the way to fix it. Take the time and effort necessary to make a good hire that will actually solve your problems.
“When interviewing or recruiting a candidate, have them go through as many interviews as possible. In-person, virtual, phone call—be as thorough as possible! Have other people interview them to get different perspectives and opinions. Have them complete test projects!” — Abby Olson, VP of training at Crumbl Cookies HQ
Hiring Mistakes to Avoid
Now that we’ve gone through every step of the hiring process, let’s take a second to review a few things you’ll want to watch out for when it comes to hiring. Being aware of these potential pitfalls will allow you to avoid them, making the hiring process more valuable for you, the candidate, and the company.
Thinking You Have All the Power in the Hiring Process
Right now the labor market is pretty tight. The unemployment rate is low, and jobs are being created like crazy. Basically, great potential employees are not dying for work. If they’re actively looking, they probably already have a few offers, and yours is just one of them.
This means that in job interviews, your candidate is likely evaluating you just as seriously as you are evaluating them and are willing to pass if you don’t measure up. You can still win top talent, it’s just a bit harder.
It may be helpful to shift your thinking. Hiring isn’t about individuals trying to show off what they can offer to great companies anymore. It’s about companies trying to show off what they can offer to talented individuals. You have to learn their needs and show how you can meet them. By understanding that the candidate wields so much power in the labor market, you will be much more able to appeal to them and win great hires.
Long Hiring Process
Almost 40% of applicants lose interest or look for a new job if your hiring practices are sluggish. By communicating how long steps in the hiring process take, you’ll have much better odds of keeping applicants. Not only should you communicate your hiring timeline, but that timeline should be short so you can hire the best candidate before your competitor does.
You can’t afford to hire too slowly. Good candidates get offers fast, and in order to keep great talent interested in you, you have to show that you’re interested in them. Keep track of your candidates by using a good ATS that can help you maintain timely communication with job seekers.
You could have the best opportunity for someone in the world, but if your outreach is terrible, you’re not going to get any bites. Just like getting your boss to take your “revolutionary new idea” seriously, it all comes down to the pitch.
Email automation is awesome, but when it comes to recruiting, automated emails don’t stand up to carefully written individual outreach. We get too many emails to give attention to everything, so people tend to only read messages that have been sent specifically to them.
Here’s a simple outline for putting together an effective pitch that can be personal enough to resonate with those you’re recruiting:
- Establish some level of rapport.
- Explain what it is you’re pitching.
- Appeal to their self-interest.
There may be some middle ground between full automation and full manual outreach that works for you. The key here is that you can’t afford to be totally impersonal. If the email looks like it could have been sent to just anybody, people aren’t going to read it.
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.
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