In compiling this Hiring Manual for the ambitious and overwhelmed hiring manager or business owner of the modern day, we aim to provide only the best, most relevant, and most practical advice for acquiring your next great hire. Any experienced manager or entrepreneur has probably experienced the tedious, time consuming, and costly nature of the hiring process. But learning how to hire effectively doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
“How to Hire” is designed to serve as your indispensable playbook to navigating the hiring process from start to finish. No matter how far along you are, we are sure you will find valuable information held within. It’s as simple as following the steps, and you’ll gain the knowledge and confidence of even the most seasoned recruiter.
Understand Your Real Hiring Needs
The first step in learning how to hire is realizing that hiring a new employee is a huge investment for your company. You will need to spend time figuring out who you are looking to hire, writing the job ad, marketing it through the proper channels, and rifling through potentially dozens of resumes. Not to mention the onboarding and training process once you selected someone. Therefore, before you embark on this hiring journey, you need to make sure that a new hire is really what you need. Do ask yourself the following questions:
- Was someone let go and urgently need to be replaced?
- Are there specific tasks that cannot be completed by anyone else?
- Can you articulate the exact outcomes and business goals this hire would help you achieve?
- Do you have the necessary space and resources available to accommodate and remunerate a new employee?
If you’ve carefully considered the options and said yes to most of these questions, then it sounds like you’ll indeed need a new hire.
Need help determining if you really need to hire?
Define the Proper Candidate
You can’t just hire the next well-meaning John Smith that stumbles into your office inquiring about an open position, dapper though he may be. Who knows if he truly understands your company culture? There are many important facets to being the right fit for a job, so you must have a crystal clear picture of that ideal candidate before moving even one step further in learning how to hire. This benchmark will help you evaluate applicants on where they succeed and where they fall short of the mark. Be sure to cover all of the following bases.
- What technical and learned skills must the candidate know on day one? If you’re hiring a software engineer, be wary of the candidate who thinks COBOL is the next big thing, unless you’re in the banking industry
- Outline the important knowledge the candidate should already have of the industry you work in vs. what you are willing to teach the new hire
- Judge carefully the necessary temperament of the ideal candidate. Should they be highly empathetic, highly competitive, or both? Should they be calm under pressure? Highly creative? Look to your own high-performing employees and determine the traits that make them successful
- Experience, education, and proper certification for the position mustn’t be forgot as well
Need help defining the ideal candidate?
Craft a Captivating Job Description
There are far too many savvy business folk competing for top talent in every industry for you to shirk on the quality of your external job description. A necessary part of learning how to hire is capturing the attention of your target audience. Consider the following to make it as enticing as possible.
- Take care that the job title is a popular and relevant one – is your target audience searching for it?
- Immediately grab the reader’s attention with an introduction that highlights the wonders of your company – its unique culture, values, benefits, and superiority to rivals
- Within this introduction, elaborate on the position while also hinting at the picture of the ideal candidate. For example, “The ideal candidate should be results-motivated and eager to join an ambitious sales team”
- Make a comprehensive bullet-point list of all the responsibilities of the job.
- Separately, list those requirements and desired characteristics you identified in Step #2
- List compensation and benefits to show candidates what’s in it for them
Struggling to write the perfect ad?
Market Your Job Through the Proper Channels
Newspapers and help wanted signs are the best way to attract the right candidates if you’re hiring 50 years ago. Heck, even posting to Monster is sooooooo 2000 (which is probably why their stock is trading at less than 4% of its high back in Y2K)! If you wish to learn how to hire, you’ve got to stay up-to-date. Here are some more modern ways to market your job opportunities.
- Cast a wide net over the massive job ad sites, such as Indeed or Glassdoor, and slightly more specialized ones, such as Idealist for non-profit opportunities
- Do not neglect more niche or local posting opportunities, such as nearby colleges, the job sites of relevant professional associations, or even meetup groups
- Get your esteemed employees involved and motivated to advertise among their circle of friends. Heed the adage “Birds of a feather flock together”
- Do not forget about social media sites like MySpace (oh wait… it’s no longer 2003), Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
Not sure where to post your job ad?
Tackle Those Resumes With Ease
The most dreaded part of learning how to hire well is often resume reviewal. What if I told you there is a way to make it all the more efficient? Because there is!
- Keeping your job advertisement in mind, create a “resume checklist” beforehand, and stick to those guns – don’t let resumes that don’t checkout take up more than 2 seconds of your time
- Follow the timeless Yes/No/Maybe System, focusing on those Yes candidates entirely before acquiescing to the Maybe pile
- Be picky when it comes to communication. A resume that pays no credence to spelling or grammar need not bother you as well
Don’t have the time to wade through all those resumes?
Screen Your Candidates Diligently
Once you’ve carefully hand-selected those top candidates, it’s time to give them the opportunity to explain their interests and experiences before settling into a formal interview. A phone screen is the perfect opportunity to make sure the basic criteria is fulfilled while probing further to gauge if they are truly an exemplary candidate. Be sure to note the following:
- Make sure baseline requirements are satisfied (experience, salary requirements, and so on)
- Inquire into why the candidate is looking for a new position, or why they left their previous roles.
- Pay attention to how the candidate communicates. Is there clear enthusiasm and vigor in their voice? Do they sound like they’d rather be anywhere else in the world but on the phone with you?
- Ask them how they have handled a relevant situation or two, such as a time when they were stressed by a large volume of work that fell on their desk. You must weed out the problem solvers from the problem bringers
Need someone to take screening off your plate?
Run Further Diagnostics as Necessary
Some positions require a bit more testing, just to prove a candidate’s true aptitude in certain disciplines. A doctrine in learning how to hire wouldn’t be complete without testing the mettle of your applicants. There are a variety of types of assessments, and the following outlines them in a general sense.
- Writing or art samples work well for artistic roles, while a programming test is an absolute necessity for software roles
- Assessments can also target personality traits, behavioral leanings, and cognitive ability
- Any and all assessments you use must be properly validated in the context of the pre-employment process.
- Be considerate of the candidate’s time. Make sure you do not ask for too much work, lest they start wondering when you will finally get around to paying them
Need help identifying the right assessments to use?
Conduct an Insightful In-person Interview
Few organizations hire anyone without at least one formal interview. However, most managers “wing” the interview, lacking a clear game-plan or structure. Winging the interview increases the opportunity for it to go sideways, so pay attention carefully to these tips to ensure it is an informative experience for both parties involved.
- First things first, create a welcoming atmosphere: Keep the temperature at a comfortable level (even if you particularly love the tundra), introduce the candidate to nearby employees, and consider a brief tour of the office for a personal touch
- Run a tandem interview. Bring along a trusted colleague who can tackle a certain line of questioning (such as one related to cultural fit), or who can take notes while you focus on the inquiries
- Ask scenario-based, non-leading questions that prompt the candidate to be specific, informative, and candid. For example, “Could you tell me about a problem you encountered at work that you were not initially prepared to handle?”
- Create an experience for your top candidates that makes them feel singular and unique. If the interview is going well, see if they want to wrap it up over coffee or lunch near the end of the interview. This provides a change of scenery and will help them further relax, and envision themselves working on your team. This could be the tipping point in their mind if they’re highly undecided
Don’t know if you’re asking the right questions?
Check Your Candidates’ References
Oft forgone in this age of quick decision-making, many hiring managers do not consider the illuminating nature of references. However, it is actually another integral part of learning how to hire. References can provide excellent feedback to confirm your hopes (or fears!) about a potential hire. Past employers can also give unique insights into what it is like to supervise a particular candidate, and highlight the situations in which they flourish or become overwhelmed.
- Request professional, educational, AND personal references to run the gamut of potential feedback
- Confirm the standard factual information (such as dates of employment), as well as qualitative feedback (is the candidate organized? A strong leader?)
- The more relevant references you can obtain, the better
No time to check references yourself?
Run a Background Check
Some positions require a final layer of security and knowledge about their candidates. If the hire will be dealing with particularly sensitive or important information, a background check is important for a number of reasons.
- First and foremost, learn your local and state laws for information about the rules regarding certain background checks, specifically criminal background checks. For a list of states and localities that have Ban the Box or Fair Chance Hiring Policies in place, see BantheBoxStates.com
- Determine what level of background check is most appropriate for your situation: federal, state, or county criminal background checks; motor vehicle checks; or drug tests
- Find and use a reputable provider, such as GoodHire.com
Need a recommendation on background checks?
Be Confident in Your Hiring Decision
You’re almost done learning how to hire! If you’ve found a candidate that really went above and beyond, this may be a non-issue for you. However, in many circumstances, you’ll have to face the challenges of picking between two or three highly qualified individuals. You’ll need to compare all potential hires thoroughly. Gather your notes from every stage in the process:
- Resume review
- In-person interviews
- Reference checks
And use them all to paint a complete picture of the candidates before you. Refer back to one of the very first steps – the ideal candidate profile – to closely compare each candidate on all the critical criteria. Don’t be afraid to take a couple days to decide, but also be aware of the candidates’ timeline and who else they might be considering for employment purposes as well.
Want to feel more secure in your hiring decision?
Ready, Aim, Hire!
How exciting! You’re almost there. Notify your top candidate that they’ve been selected for the job, preferably via phone call. Go into the potential salary negotiation with the same confidence you’ve assuredly instilled in yourself throughout this entire process. Consider what you are worth as an employer, study the market well, and know what you can safely afford. CareerOneStop.org is a splendid resource for salary information in the national and local employment market.
If the candidate doesn’t accept, worry not. Try to gather what information you can regarding why they have declined. You will also ideally have another candidate or two in the wings who would work out just as well. Remember, many people can be suited for the exact same position.
If the candidate does accept… then hoorah! You’ve made it through the arduous and occasionally frustrating ordeal of learning how to hire much more effectively. And if you’ve followed all the steps listed herein diligently, you can be confident that this hire will be a great one.
Of course, as your business grows or your needs changed, you may find yourself having to hire again sooner than you think…