12 Simple Steps to an Effective Hiring Process

Every company is unique, but it’s no secret that the success of a business is directly linked to the people within it. Your staff’s daily actions and commitment will either move your company forward or hold it back. That’s why an effective hiring process is one of the most crucial aspects of business, whether you’re a small startup or a large conglomerate.

Having a streamlined hiring process will not only save you time, but it keeps strong candidates from slipping through the cracks. In this article, we’re going to give you a step-by-step process for hiring effectively and with ease.

1. Determine exactly what you’re hiring for (and what you’re willing to pay)

Becoming clear on exactly what you’re looking for is an important first step, meaning you shouldn’t look at similar job ads and copy/paste the requirements. Your company has its own unique culture and values that you’ll want to communicate in your ad. Write down a detailed plan of what you’re seeking, for example, what skills and traits they need to excel in the role.

If you want to take it a step further, you could talk to others in similar roles to get an idea of what you need. The process may take longer, but it’ll save you money and time in the long run by finding the right candidate.

A realistic pay bracket should also be included in your plan since this takes out some of the guesswork later in the process. It also allows you to negotiate confidently with your candidates. We recommend that you also put a pay bracket and benefits in your job ad – this can rule out applicants that won’t accept the role. Plus, it makes your brand come across as open and honest which is a huge bonus.

2. Write an accurate job description

If you’ve done your groundwork (i.e., written a detailed plan of what you’re looking for), the next step in the recruitment process should follow naturally. In fact, you can use your plan to create an accurate job description. Writing a job description isn’t a complicated process, but there are some tips and tricks to make it as effective as possible.

Use plain English and communicate exactly what the job is about. There’s a time and place for being clever and funny, and your job description usually isn’t one of them. At least not if your cleverness outweighs the clarity. No matter your company culture, “promotional rockstar” isn’t an appealing or accurate headline.

Get specific. This doesn’t mean you need a long ad. In fact, sometimes it’s the opposite. Make sure you skip the fluff and long-winded sentences. Quality candidates want to know precisely what they’re applying for without having to guess. For example, “Assisting management in day-to-day requirements” is too vague and not very helpful. Assisting in what? Preparing reports and contributing to key decision-making or doing admin work and getting coffee? The details matter more than you might think.

Be honest. Don’t list skills and qualifications as “required” if they’re not, in an attempt to make the role seem more prestigious. You’ll only risk turning away excellent candidates. And vice versa, don’t skip qualifications only to let candidates down.

Spelling and grammar. You need to thoroughly proof-read your ad before publishing. Spelling and grammar mistakes may not seem like a big deal, but they can damage your brand’s reputation and turn off qualified candidates.

Focus on your employer brand. Use your job description to highlight what makes your company unique and showcase to the candidate how they would fit in with your company culture. Highlighting your company values can help attract candidates who follow those same values, and bring in a stronger pool of applicants.

3. Advertise the position

When it comes to advertising the position, consider where you want to place your ad. With a vast amount of options for digital job boards, it pays to do a bit of research first. The good thing is that you can use recruitment software to place your ad on multiple job boards. For example, if you’re using the HigherMe platform, you can submit your job ad to a fantastic collection of active job boards at once.

This puts your ad in front of a massive audience without the hassle of having to post on multiple platforms manually. Your ad is also kept up to date automatically, so you don’t need to spend time refreshing it.

If you’re not using HigherMe or a similar platform, find the most appropriate one for your role and post there.

4. Accept and manage applications

Whatever platform(s) you’ve listed your ad on, users will be able to apply either directly on the platform or via email. Check for applications regularly, making sure you’re getting the right types of people applying.

You’ll want to have a system in place that allows you to contact qualified applicants quickly. Especially if the role is hourly, many job seekers will accept the first job they are offered. It’s important you’re the first to contact qualified applicants ahead of the competition.

You may need to tweak your ad if you’re not getting the results you want. Also, be quick to disqualify applicants that are obviously not a good fit and leave the rest until the next step in the process.

5. Have a system in place to shortlist the best applicants

Chances are you’ve received hundreds of applications, so you won’t have time to read every single one manually. That’s where a recruitment platform can be useful, helping you to compare and disqualify candidates at a glance. In platforms like HigherMe’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), candidates get a score along with information around what requirements they do and don’t meet.

These metrics help narrow your applicant pool down quickly, cutting your hiring time in half. Once you’ve reduced the applicant pool to a bunch of qualified candidates, you can start taking a closer look at each one.

6. Manually review each of the shortlisted applications

At this point of your recruitment process, you’ll probably have somewhere between 5 and 20 applicants to review. Consider bringing others, whose opinions you respect, into the process. Another set of eyes can be very helpful. Remember to add notes as you go through this process, as it can quickly become confusing even with fewer applications to manage. The notes will also make you better prepared for the upcoming interviews.

7. Conduct a round of brief phone interviews

Phone interviews are an excellent way to start the interviewing process. It gives you an idea of your applicant’s initial thoughts and it can save both of you time. Plan for a 5-10 minute phone call where you cover the basics and prepare to take more notes during that time.

Many people will not answer the phone if the call is from a number they don’t recognize. It’s recommended to invite applicants to the interview via text message or email and have them confirm a scheduled time for the phone call. Within HigherMe’s ATS, interview scheduling can be automated to reduce phone tag and interview ghosting.

Most phone interviews focus on confirming details of a candidate’s application, and ensuring they meet the requirements for the position. Consider questions such as:

  • Why are you applying for this position?
  • Do you meet our minimum job requirements?
  • Are you available during the hours we require?
  • How many hours are you looking for?
  • Do you have safe and reliable transportation to and from work (especially for early morning or late night shifts)?

Remember these questions aren’t designed to replace the in-person interview, but you’ll often be able to eliminate a few candidates after a brief chat.Perhaps they showed a lack of knowledge around key elements of your industry, which didn’t come across in their application.

Or maybe they just didn’t seem like a good fit for your team and company culture. By coming to that conclusion before an in-person interview you’ll save their time while making the process easier for yourself.

8. Interview the strongest potentials (and take even more notes)

After a round of phone interviews, you should be left with a smaller group of competent and fitting candidates. By this stage, if you still have any candidates you don’t feel great about, take them out of the process before interviewing. If worse comes to worst, you’ll have to post a fresh job ad. Because hiring the wrong person can be both costly and damaging to your brand.

But if you’d be happy to hire any of them, it means you’ve done an excellent job in the selection process. Now, the only thing left is to determine which one is the most adequate for the role. The first step is to arrange a round of face-to-face interviews so you can meet the candidates in person (or via video interview).

When interviewing candidates, you’ll want to make sure they have good interpersonal skills, the right qualifications for the job, and that they’ve been honest in their resumes. Here are some tips on how to prepare for the interview:

Make sure you set aside enough time. Being able to give each candidate enough time, without interruptions, will give a good first impression of your company. It also helps you focus on finding the right candidate.

Make them feel welcome and comfortable. Job interviews are usually intimidating for the candidates, and some interviews are worse than others. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t a good fit for the position.. Do your best to make them feel comfortable. If you have time and company culture allows it, a good idea is to take them out for coffee instead of sitting in a boardroom. A more personalized experience can let you find out a lot more about a person.

Read the resume carefully. Before the interview, make sure that you’ve read their resume thoroughly. This will help you ask more in-depth questions. You should also keep a copy of their resume as a reference during the interview.

Prepare specific questions. You’ve been taking notes throughout the process – now it’s time to dig deeper and ask specific questions. But the list of questions isn’t set in stone. Don’t be afraid to improvise and go off-script, if the situation calls for it. The most revealing questions are situational:

  • “Tell me about a time when…”
  • “If you were on duty, and [insert on the job scenario] happened, how do you think you might handle it?
  • “How do you handle situations where…”

9. Perform a background check

In certain industries, background checks are compulsory. But no matter what your company’s hiring policies are, it’s crucial to understand the candidate’s history. Also, it’s best to do this before hiring them to make sure you’re not caught out later.

Note that this process can release sensitive information, so it could be a good idea to work with a background check provider. That way, you’ll ensure you’re not causing legal issues for your company. So what does a basic background check include?

  • Criminal record.
  • Driving record
  • Social security validation.
  • Address history check.
  • U.S. terror watch list check.
  • Sex offender registry check.

10. Contact references for your top two candidates

While laws vary around what references are allowed to say about candidates, these conversations can still give you valuable insights. Usually only a quick phone call, you’ll ask them some basic questions. Be sure to give them room to discuss anything else they think you should know before wrapping up the call.

The short extra time you spend on reference checks can be enough to change whom you want to offer the role. Sometimes you’ll have a couple of candidates that are neck and neck, and these calls can be the deciding factor. So don’t be tempted to skip this step.

11. Call your top candidate and send a letter of offer

Once you’ve made your final decision, it’s time to make it official and let them know. Start off by giving your candidate a call so they get a chance to ask any final questions they might have. Then follow up with a letter of offer, making it official for both of you.

Your letter of offer should include all the relevant details of the role, such as:

  • The remuneration you’ve agreed upon, including potential bonuses.
  • Position title and important details about the position.
  • Employment type – full-time, part-time, etc.
  • Legal name of the company
  • A start date, work location, and any other agreed upon terms.
  • Pay dates – monthly, weekly, etc.
  • Who the candidate reports to.
  • Offer expiration date.

12. Begin the onboarding process

Congratulations, you’ve hired a new staff member! Now that you’ve made the decision and they’ve accepted the role, it’s time to get the onboarding paperwork in order. Rather than doing this job manually and dealing with stacks of paper, many hiring managers choose to use an onboarding platform. There are also important tax forms that you’re required to fill out so you don’t jeopardize the legality of your business. An onboarding platform will automate the process, taking out the risk of you forgetting.

For HigherMe users, the onboarding process is built into our platform. That means you can email the documents to your new recruit, and a simple dashboard will show you the status of each staff member you’re onboarding. And if you need to view a copy of that form two years down the line, it’s saved on the platform for easy reference.

Do you have any questions about the hiring process? Feel free to reach out to one of our team members.

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