- Your employee hiring process should be methodical and well thought out.
- Prepare for the process by researching market hiring conditions and getting all of the proper paperwork in order.
- Once you start the process, consider the exact role you are hiring for and how much you are willing to negotiate once you make an offer.
- This article is for business owners and hiring managers who are looking to hire new employees and want a complete guide to a successful hiring process.
The employee hiring process is lengthy and detailed. If you do it right, you'll find and hire high-quality candidates who stick around and represent your business the way you want. As a small business owner, you might not know where to begin with hiring if you don't have experience in HR, as many small business owners don't. Keep reading for expert advice on hiring employees.
Preparing your business for hiring employees
Whether you're on your first hire or your thousandth, you should have a defined process in place for recruiting and onboarding. Over time, it will become more streamlined as you gain hiring experience and tweak your standard operating procedures accordingly. With any hire, take these steps to get your business ready for the new employee.
1. Do your research.
Rich Deosingh, district president for the Robert Half office in Midtown, New York, suggests researching the local market before even looking at open roles within your company.
"Research who is hiring, what the economic landscape is in your region, and review other job postings," Deosingh told Business News Daily. "It will give you an idea of things like salary and competition in the market – who else is looking for someone with these particular skill sets?"
Once you know that, you can tailor the rest of your hiring process to fit what others are doing – or go in the other direction and stand out so job candidates will be more intrigued by your company than by others.
2. Get your paperwork in order.
In some cases, your paperwork could be one-and-done, where you create a template and plug in the necessary information for each new hire. In other cases, you can completely automate the process.
These are some of the forms that new-hire paperwork can include.
- W-4: This helps you figure out the correct amount of taxes to withhold from each paycheck.
- I-9: This verifies the employment eligibility of the new hire.
- Direct deposit form: This gives you an employee's banking information for easier and faster payment.
- Non-compete agreement: A non-compete agreement will usually specify an amount of time that the employee is barred from working for, being a consultant for, and conducting other activities for a company that conducts similar business to yours.
- Employee handbook: An employee handbook lays out the company's mission, vision, policies, dress code, code of conduct and so on.
- Acknowledgment form: On this form, the new employee confirms that they have read and understood all the necessary documents.
- Consent to drug testing: Some companies require new hires to consent to drug testing prior to employment, and to agree to random drug testing for the duration of their employment.
Jennifer Walden, director of operations at WikiLawn, said that her company has added a home network security checklist, with a field for the employee to let the company know if they'll need new hardware to ensure a secure network. "And we make sure new employees have login info ready to go, as well as contact information for anyone they'll be working with frequently."
It's a lot of paperwork, but it's all necessary. The good news is that there are online resources available to make the paperwork easier for you or your hiring manager.
"Use an HRIS (human resources information system) like Gusto, ADP or Paycom that provides the HR back-end paperwork to the employee in a self-service mode," said Laura Handrick, HR professional at Choosing Therapy. "There's no reason a human should be shuffling paper these days. Online systems with e-signature streamline the paperwork for you, ensuring data is captured accurately, and saving everyone (including the new hire) time."
FYI: The best HR software on the market will have features to help you streamline employee paperwork and onboarding. You can read our review of Gusto and our Paychex Flex review to learn about some of the best options.
No matter what system you use, the key is having it ready before you start the hiring process.
"All of these items should be prepared beforehand and easily accessible online," Deosingh said. "Communication before the first day is key – if you need the new hire to provide paperwork or identification, it should be noted ahead of time."
Matthew Dailly, managing director of Tiger Financial, agreed with Deosingh. "Using previous hires as a template, look over all the information gathered from them, and then update or add more important documents that have been implemented since," he added.
3. Outsource if you need to.
Not every small business has an HR department, or even someone on staff who is familiar with HR processes, and that's OK. It's better to find someone who can do the job well than to consistently make mistakes in hiring and end up with high turnover or employees who aren't the right fit.
"For businesses that have an HR department of one, utilizing outsourced resources for recruiting, payroll, benefits administration, etc. can be very helpful to handle the heavy lifting of compliance and reporting requirements for new employees, as well as the current employee base of the company," said Karen L. Roberts, SHRM-SCP and director of human resources at Flaster Greenberg PC.
One of the best tips for hiring is to leave it to the professionals and partner with a top-rated HR outsourcing service. "Don't delegate hiring to an untrained supervisor," Handrick said. "Interviewing, and being able to discern talent, is a skill."
Step-by-step process to hire employees
Follow these steps for an effective hiring process.
1. Evaluate which positions you need to fill.
Sonya Schwartz, founder of Her Norm, said this step is important to prevent redundancy of positions in the company.
"The best thing you can do is approach the process with the mindset of filling needs, not desks," Deosingh added. "You are looking for the best person to fill a specific need, not just getting someone in and calling it a day."
2. Figure out your recruiting strategy.
With recruiting, you always have options. Dailly suggests first figuring out whether you are going to use a recruiting firm. "If not, state on job recruitment forms 'no agencies, please,' as this will save a ton of incoming sales calls."
You may also want to have your current employees tap into their networks.
While the hiring process can be lengthy, you still want to make sure you find the right candidate for the specific job you are hiring for. That doesn't always mean choosing the best candidate overall.
"Recruiters and hiring managers should take their time to find the best candidate for the role and not settle for the best candidate in the applicant pool," said Lori Rassas, HR consultant, executive coach and author of The Perpetual Paycheck. "If you interview 10 candidates and none are a fit to their role, there will likely be pressure to just pick the best candidate. Hiring managers should resist this pressure and go back to the hiring pool to secure other candidates."
3. Write the job description.
Before posting a job, confer with your team managers about the ideal candidate for the job to get a good idea of exactly what you need. It's also good practice to make existing employees aware of the opening. Write a job description that matches what you are looking for, including details such as job requirements, responsibilities and expectations. Include information regarding your core values and company culture so you can find the right cultural fit.
Dailly said that you should also determine the salary so you can state it in the job description and not recruit under- or overqualified candidates.
"In some situations, hiring managers are less than upfront about exactly what challenges the candidate will face, and this leads to mistrust, high turnover and an overall negative impact on workplace culture," Rassas said. "But that can be prevented by being explicit with what is expected of the person filling the role and making sure the candidates you've chosen can fulfill it."
4. Post your job opening.
Most businesses use career websites to advertise a new job opening. Start by listing the job on your company website to reach a targeted audience. If you want to widen your reach, turn to free and paid online career classifieds. Here are some job posting sites to consider.
- CareerBuilder: Established more than two decades ago, CareerBuilder provides resources for employees and employers, including localized search capacity. The site advertises to more than 80 million job seekers around the globe who use its database to search for positions. The posting price is low and based on the number of positions you are hiring for your company.
- Monster: On Monster, job seekers can search by location, skill set, keywords and job title. The company has added new features, like video, to make classifieds stand out. Pricing varies by hiring needs and company size.
- ZipRecruiter: On ZipRecruiter, you can create a hiring account for free. ZipRecruiter has innovative matching tools to help you find the right talent for your job posting. All communications are managed on the platform.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a huge candidate base with more than 690 million users. Job postings are free, but the site charges you to use more comprehensive recruiting tools.
Tip: Avoid unregulated websites like Craigslist, since you may only receive spam emails and calls instead of high-quality applications.
5. Sift through applicants.
"When we select and hire our employees … we'll usually advertise [the job posting] to target specific groups for certain skill sets," Walden said. "Applications are sent in, and we look through resumes first to immediately rule out anyone who's just completely unqualified or not what we're looking for. If we're on the fence, we read cover letters and narrow down the pool."
If you can't find the right candidate for your job opening from the current applicant pool, you may need to revisit your job description.
"If you are not seeing the right type of candidate, pivot so you do see the best candidates," Rassas said. "Yes, work is probably piling up, and yes, you want to get a candidate in the role right away, but a bit more effort on the hiring process before extending the offer is going to save you a lot of time in the long run."
6. Interview the most qualified candidates.
Before interviewing the candidates, give them enough notice to make sure you get the best out of them.
"Inform the applicant about the interview ahead of time so he/she could prepare more," Schwartz said. "This will allow you to know the applicant better and to know if they are a perfect fit for the role, because you have given them the time to prepare."
Walden said the first round of interviews at WikiLawn comes after they narrow down the applicant pool even further. Then, they follow up with a second round of interviews.
"Whether it is in person or virtual, [the interview] remains the most important part of the hiring journey," Deosingh said. "It is when you get to ask the necessary questions and ideally form a bond with the candidate."
Did you know? Some interview questions are illegal. Brush up on the types of interview questions you should and shouldn't be asking ahead of time.
7. Follow up with the interviewees.
This stage isn't just for calling or emailing the applicants. Deosingh said post-interview evaluation is also important.
"Don't fall victim to the halo effect and be blinded by any potential weaknesses," he said. "Maintain perspective and take everything into account – not just the interview or resume but the totality of what you've seen. Get input from others, but limit it to a small group to avoid brain drain."
Follow-up can take many forms. It might be as simple as a thank-you note for the interviewee's time, all the way up to a formal job offer.
8. Extend the job offer.
If you've interviewed a lot of people and found high-quality candidates for the position, you want to move quickly.
"Don't delay in making a decision," Deosingh said. "Make sure all the stakeholders (if applicable) are available to interview and give feedback in a timely fashion. The demand for skilled employees is still high, and you can lose a potential hire to other opportunities if you delay." [Read related article: How to Write a Job Offer Letter]
The exact offer you extend also matters.
"Make sure to give an irresistible job offer," Schwartz said. "Most high-quality employees demand higher pay and good benefits."
Regardless of how good you think the offer is, prepare for some negotiation on salary and employee benefits.
"Allow the potential employee to think about your offer, and if he/she doesn't agree, try to negotiate," Schwartz said. "Negotiation should always be a win-win situation."
9. Conduct a background check.
A final step you should consider is conducting a background check to ensure there are no significant red flags before bringing the person into your workplace.
"If you think the prospective applicant suits the position you require, you can do a background check," Schwartz said. "This will confirm the decision you made."
Hiring remote employees
Hiring remote workers has become common for businesses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and it comes with its own set of challenges. When funneling remote candidates through the hiring process, you'll need to make a few adjustments.
"While the core principles of onboarding remain the same, there are differences," Deosingh said. "They cannot see your physical space. Much of the onboarding process includes the opportunity to see the space and get acclimated to the physical location."
These are some ways to adapt the process for remote hires to keep them engaged:
- Set the employee up before their first day. When looking at technology specifically, make sure their employee credentials and logins are all set and that they have all the equipment they need before day one.
- Give them an enthusiastic welcome. This might sound basic, but it can go a long way. Set up a video introduction with the new hire's team so they feel welcome. Remember, they are entering your organization at a much different point from where others have started in the past. Make them feel welcome even if you can't be in the same physical location.
- Be available. It's easy to say you're available while overlooking it in practice. Your new hire will undoubtedly have questions. If they can't walk to your office or lean over and ask their teammates, they have to feel comfortable reaching out over remote communication channels. Over-communicating information and making yourself available and open to questions is crucial if you're onboarding new hires remotely.
Deosingh also said it's important to provide a thorough and clear online guide, since the new employee will not have handouts or physical paperwork with them.
Bringing on your new employee
These are the five most important aspects of onboarding, according to Deosingh:
- Provide an orientation. It might be remote, but a broad overview of the company is important for any new hire to hear.
- Explain your company's core values and expectations. This is always important when you embark on a journey with a new hire. The sooner you set expectations, the better off your company and your new employee will be.
- Go over job responsibilities. You have likely covered a lot of this during the interview process, but it is helpful to go into more detail about employee expectations now that they have the job.
- Give them a starting project. Many new hires are eager to get started. Instead of having them sit through orientations and company overviews at the beginning, give them something to sink their teeth into right away.
- Assign a mentor. Find a mentor in a similar position to the new employee's role to give them someone who can answer their questions and steer them in the right direction.
Roberts said her company's onboarding process starts with a welcome package (an offer letter, new-hire paperwork, benefits information and employee handbook) and carries through orientation and training to the employee's first day performing their new duties.
"It should include introductions to key staff members, employer resources, office tours, etc., [anything] that will help a new hire assimilate to their new role as a member of your team," she said.
According to Schwartz, onboarding should also consist of any necessary personal data encoding, an explanation of your company's mission and vision, training on your standard operating procedures, and issuance of supplies and uniforms, if any.
"Onboarding is about first impressions and engaging the new hire in their commitment to work with your firm," Handrick said. "It's much more than paperwork." She added that you should map out, in a checklist format, every task and activity necessary to help the new hire feel welcome, be productive, and want to stay.
Handrick also noted that, while first-week activities tend to focus on paperwork, the real value of onboarding is what happens in the first 30-90 days and its effects going forward.
Skye Schooley contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.