Are you ready to grow, but not sure how to hire your next team member? Has your hiring process in the past produced costly mis-hires and candidates that lacked the will or skill to add value to your company? If so, follow these 8 steps to attract the ideal candidate for your next job opening.
1. Market Your Open Position
Build your culture.
A large pool of applicants will increase your chances of finding the right person. The easiest way to get a large pool of applicants is to work on building a culture that people want to work for.
Make sure you are communicating your awesome culture to the marketplace as often as possible so you can draw top talent right to your door.
Write a job description.
When you are ready to hire, begin by develop a job description. State what makes your company an amazing place to work. Do you offer cool perks? Are you mission driven? Do you focus on a social good? The right candidates will care about these details.
The hiring process is an opportunity to evolve your organization. Your objective should be to hire for the future, not where you are today.
The improved job market has led to a war over talent. If your job posting hasn’t succeeded in the past, stop using it and craft a new job advertisement that can “wow” your next team rock star. You can include compensation if it’s competitive, but the main attraction should be the job itself.
Many job descriptions are long-winded and filled with jargon. No one wants a boring job, so don’t be boring when describing it. You should use the same salesmanship that you use when attracting customers to your latest products. Be succinct, avoid jargon, and if possible, add pictures and videos to introduce candidates to your team.
Your marketing materials should be clear about what it’s like to work at your company. This will help job searchers self-select whether your job opportunities are right for them.
Share your open position.
When you place your job advertisements, go big and cast a wide net! Relying on traditional avenues can limit your candidate options to those already unemployed and looking for a job.
Consider offering a referral bonus or employee incentive for sharing, reposting or referring candidates from their network.
Find out where your best candidates hang out (perhaps at certain conferences, university competitions, or online groups) and spend some time there so you can make connections and invite the right people to apply.
Depending on your available resources, you can run a full-on marketing campaign by creating a promotional video or career landing page and boosting them on social media.
2. Screen Applicants
Filter people who don’t meet your qualifications.
The first step of screening is to filter out candidates who do not meet minimum qualifications for education and years of experience. When reading resumes and cover letters, pay attention to soft skills like communication abilities and professionalism.
Create a de-selection process by requiring applicants to respond to a specific set of instructions. Multiple levels of screening will help you save time on lengthy interviews with under-qualified candidates.
Invite those who passed to an interview.
When finished screening, invite your pre-qualified candidates to interview. As a courtesy, send no-thank-you’s to applicants that you’ve filtered out.
3. Conduct the First Interview
Create an interview criteria sheet.
Before you begin any interviews, create a customized interview criteria sheet.
The Society for Human Resource Management offers a basic candidate evaluation form that allows you to rank applicants on 11 common qualifications.
If you want a more tailored form, FitSmallBusiness.com offers 11 free scorecard templates for various positions including retail, food service, administrative assistants, and project managers. If you don’t yet have a formal scorecard, download one of their templates and modify it to suit your company.
Interview individually or conduct a group interview.
Make sure to use your chosen criteria sheet to rank each candidate. This keeps you focused on your most important search criteria and helps you avoid getting distracted by small biases.
James Kenigsberg, Chief Technology Officer for the higher education platform 2U, recommends asking candidates about their coworkers and managers in their recent jobs to assess how well they work with others.
If possible, ask candidates to see work samples (like writing projects or designs). Then ask them to discuss their process from beginning to end. As you listen to their answers, look for clues on their mindset and attitude.
Consider asking candidates to submit a short video about why they wants to work for your company.
You can also turn the tables and invite interviewees to interview you! This reveals a lot about a candidate’s style, confidence, thinking, and interpersonal approach.
Select 2-4 candidates.
Finally, select 2 to 4 top candidates to move on to the next phase: a test drive activity. Send no-thank-you’s to your eliminated candidates.
4. Test Drive
Give a short test assignment.
After you hire your new employee, you don’t want to find out that they aren’t as capable as they said they were. Fortunately it’s very easy to avoid this this common problem.
Before you make the hire, simply assign your top candidates a short list of job tasks. This will ensure they have the skills you need.
To “test drive” a candidate, follow these steps.
- Create a sample assignment that test’s a few of their job responsibilities.
- Assign your top 2 to 4 candidates to complete the test assignment for a half day or longer.
- Conduct a face-to-face interview at the end of the test-drive to ask each candidate questions about their experience.
You can even hire someone as a consultant or for a 30-day trial.
If you’d like to test someone for longer, you can bring them on as a consultant or for a 30-day trial. Increasingly companies are having employees move from contract to hire or from temp to full-time.
5. Conduct the Second Interview
Develop a new list of questions.
For your second interview, develop a new list of questions. To find whether an employee really wants your job (or just any job), check out our free guide “Hiring for Character.”
Focus on open-ended questions
Ask the same set of open-ended questions to each of your top candidates.
Look for enthusiasm and comfort working within a team. Depending on the position, you may also want to evaluate a candidates’ initiative, customer service experience, overall friendliness, specialized knowledge, or technical capabilities.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
Never ignore a candidates’ nonverbal cues, which can indicate poor communication skills.
Look for leadership skills.
Whether the current job opening calls for it or not, selecting candidates with demonstrated leadership skills will help you later on when you need employees to transition into management roles.
Don’t forget cultural alignment.
Candidates should be able to sense if they will fit within your culture and share your core values before they accept the job, so build your values and into the interview process.
Rate responses and record comments.
After the interview, rate your candidates’ responses and record your comments.
6. Check References
Talk to your top candidate’s former employer.
Check your top candidates’ references and employment history. Usually you can call a candidates’ former employers to verify resume accuracy.
When you call a candidate’s former employer, check:
- the dates the candidate worked there
- why the candidate the left the job
- what it was like working with the candidate (“What are his strengths and weaknesses?”)
- whether there were performance issues (“How would you describe her reliability?”
- what the candidate accomplished (“What was his most memorable accomplishment?”)
- culture fit (“What type of work environment do you think she would thrive in?”)
- potential (“What skills would you like to see him develop in the future?”)
- overall recommendation (“Would you recommend her overall?”)
These questions will provide insights into whether the former employer enjoyed working with the candidate as well as what work may be required to further their professional development.
By asking open-ended questions, you can get past trained or generic responses and get more authentic answers.
Still feeling uncertain?
If the references a candidate provides still leave you feeling uncertain, you can contact other employers on the applicant’s resume.
To do this, it’s best to include a legal release on your employment application form. The legal release should be something to this effect: “I hereby give express permission to the XYZ Company to contact the references I have provided and anyone else familiar with my job performance at any of the companies listed in my work history.”
If needed you can also conduct a full background check on a new employee, especially if their role requires handling sensitive information.
When you’re finished, rank your finalists according to preference.
7. Make the Hire
Here are 3 ways to clear up any last doubts.
By now you’ve probably already decided on a candidate.
If you have any doubts remaining, one way to clear up uncertainty is to have your top candidates complete a DISC personality test to ensure they’re a good match for the position.
Another way to make a final decision is to pay attention to the tiny details…. Which candidate sent you a thank-you note after the interview?
Finally, when in doubt, pick the candidate who is most passionate about the position and your company. It’s hard to go wrong with a candidate who is qualified and passionate.
Make an offer and negotiate a salary.
After you’ve chosen the best candidate, it’s time to make an offer and negotiate a salary.
- Research the job market and make an offer within $10,000 of the competitive market price.
- Don Charlton, founder of JazzHR, recommends moving beyond round figures quickly. Offering $53,000 instead of $55,000 shows that you’ve calculated a precise offer that matches the opportunity and job market.
- If the candidate asks for an additional $5,000 and it’s within the range your company can afford, consider agreeing to it. After subtracting taxes and spreading over a year, this amounts to an extra grocery purchase every week—not a large enough sum to worry about.
- If a candidate’s counteroffer is far too high, share your calculations based on the current job market with the candidate so they can see why their salary request is excessive.
- You can let a candidate know why you’re agreeing to an increase (“We believe you’ll do an excellent job in this position”), but don’t feel the need to over-explain.
Set up an employment agreement.
Once you’ve agreed to a fair salary, execute an employment agreement.
If you need assistance, Bond Street provides free advice to small businesses on drafting effective agreements for at-will employees and Law Depot provides a customizable employment template.
8. Induct Your New Employee
A good induction process has many benefits.
Onboarding is a series of on-the-job, individualized training events where you teach employees how to be effective in their new positions and show them how their work supports their department and the greater purpose of the company. An effective employee onboarding experience can improve employee retention by 50% and help employees get up to speed 30% faster. Despite this, one third of companies spend nothing on employee induction.
Plan for a long-term employee induction.
Forbes recommends a minimum 90-day induction process in order to ensure employees have a smooth transition into their new job.
An employee induction usually involves recurring group meetings that address new employees’ concerns and increase their knowledge.
- During formal training programs, minimize text and keep your presentations visual. A lot of new information can be overwhelming, and people are more likely to remember graphics.
- Teach new hires step-by-step how to effectively handle their job responsibilities by walking them through your operations manual and organizational charts.
- Use quizzes and assessments to facilitate learning and improve recall.
- Share goals and performance reviews.
- Go over health and safety information, cover procedures for absences and time-off requests, and clarify policies on infractions (such as a demerit or ranking system).
- Find the experienced employee who is most excited about your company’s mission, vision, and values, and recruit them to teach new employees about this part of your company.
Help your new employees connect with your staff.
Your induction program should also help employees build community and make friends in the workplace.
- Consider seating new employees in areas of the office with more traffic so that they can meet more people.
- Hold “meet and greets” where new employees can meet department heads and other experienced employees.
- Pay for team lunches or outings.
- Get your new team members involved in volunteer events with coworkers.
- If you sell physical products, give your new employees samples of your products and your competitors’ products. This can help grow an “us-vs-them” competitive spirit (or potentially give you valuable feedback!).
- Give new employees a meaningful gift that reflects the company’s culture.
Continue Growing Your Company with the Best Candidates
How does your hiring process compare?
Are you missing any of the 8 steps? How can you tweak your process starting today to get better outcomes with your future hires?
If you’ve ever experienced mis-hires or less than stellar hires, but you don’t adapt your hiring system, you can expect to continue getting the same results.
Starting today, take steps to improve your results!
By making the necessary changes today, you’ll put your company on track to reduce turnover and consistently acquire outstanding employees who match your company’s needs.