Hiring a new employee should take all the time and care that you would give to creating a new product or delivering a service to your best customer. A new hire may either contribute to your company’s success or end up hampering your growth, which is why the steps you take during the hiring process are so important.
The Recruitment Process in Five Steps
There are essentially five steps involved in the recruitment process:
- Define the position required.
- Find job applicants.
- Evaluate the best applicants.
- Screen the best candidates.
- Interview the best candidates.
It's helpful to think of these stages as a funnel. Before you define the position, anyone in the world could potentially be a candidate. Then, as you begin to gather applications or resumes, you may have a few dozen or several hundred. As you evaluate them on paper, you may have 20 hopefuls.
After you contact them by telephone and screen their eligibility, you may be down to a dozen who are suitable for an interview. Finally, after the interview process, you will ideally have one perfect candidate who wants to take the position.
Defining the Position to Be Filled
Recruiting the best candidates begins with a job description. You will need this to post the available position online as well as for the employment contract when you hire. Talk to those who are already doing the same job in your company to ensure you get all the details, or if it’s a first hire for the job, talk to those who will be working with the new employee.
This should adequately describe the position so that candidates will immediately know whether or not this should be something to look at. Made up titles like “Senior Telephone Ninja” may sound cool, but “Customer Service Rep” will get more serious attention from qualified applicants.
This should describe your organization and explain the role the new employee will have within it. Use this to quickly explain why candidates would want to work for you rather than somewhere else.
Describe the position’s main responsibilities. If you are posting the position online, keep in mind that keywords are essential to get your position to rank well when people are searching for jobs like the one you are offering. Include the title of to whom the new employee will report and how the job fits into your company's organizational structure.
List the minimum requirements the candidates must bring to the table for you to consider them, including things like education, skills and previous experience. In addition to minimum requirements, list some of your preferences.
Pay and Benefits
While you may not want to include specifics in a job listing, you must know how much you are willing to pay the right candidate, even if you don’t want to disclose this during the recruitment phase. If you’re going to pay $20 per hour while other companies are paying only $15 per hour for the same job, this may be something you want to advertise in your job listings to get more applicants.
You should also list benefits that come with the job, like health insurance, 401(k) plan, child care, free lunches or whatever else your company may offer.
Methods of Recruitment
How you find the right person for the job often depends on what your business does and what the job entails. However, most recruitment methods include online job postings and offline searches. Word of mouth can go a long way, including your professional networks, clients and suppliers.
If you are hoping to recruit students or new graduates, consider attending a job fair, particularly if you are hiring for more than one position. If time is short, and you have the budget, it's often advisable to use a professional recruitment firm or headhunter to find the best candidate.
Finding Job Candidates Online
Most job hunters go online to find a position, so that should be the first place to begin posting your job listing. Some websites are free to use, while others charge employers a fee to post. You’ll have to set yourself a budget and decide which websites are the best fit for you.
Many websites will also allow you to search and browse resumes that job hunters have uploaded. This is a great feature if you need to fill a position quickly and don’t want to wait for applicants to find you because you can contact them yourself.
When posting your job listing, use the job description you wrote as the basis for your advertising.
There are countless websites where you can post your job online, including:
While the national websites allow applicants to search by city or region, there is still a huge market for local job websites. A search engine query using your city and the word “jobs” as keywords will likely bring up at least a few websites that cater to your specific location, including newspaper websites. If you’re based in Seattle, for example, you would find:
Depending on the job you are offering, there may be websites that cater specifically to that career, including national and local professional organizations. For example, if your Seattle-based business happens to be hiring a new architect, the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects has its own job board at aiaseattle.org.
Your Website's Career Page
Consider putting a careers page on your website with the job details. Link that page to your website’s home page and, whenever possible, to your job listing on other websites. This will do two things.
First, it acts as a central hub for all of your job postings where additional details about the job can be found. Secondly, it can help attract new customers. Hiring new employees is a sign of a successful company. Even if someone isn’t applying for the job you are advertising, he may keep your company in mind should he ever need the products or services you offer.
In addition to LinkedIn, other social media platforms can be a great way to find job candidates who are also fans of your business. Let your followers know you’re hiring and post a link to your company’s careers page.
Finding Job Candidates Offline
Unless you work from your home, put a “Now Hiring!” sign in your window or door. If you have a good location with lots of foot or car traffic, you may only have to leave it up for a few days before the perfect candidate stops in.
Evaluating the Best Applicants
Sort resumes and job applicants into three categories: those you want to contact, those you may want to contact and those who don't interest you. How many people you want to contact is up to you. A good rule of thumb is to find at least five whom you want to bring in for an interview.
Call each applicant who looks promising. You don’t have to interview them over the phone, but ask them a few questions to give them a chance to speak to you. Often, someone who looks like a perfect fit on paper will turn out to be unsuitable once you begin talking to her either by being unavailable when you need her to start or by displaying unprofessional language or just being rude. Keep in mind that applicants are often nervous when an employer calls them, particularly if they don’t have much work experience.
Be professional through the telephone screening and through the interviews. After all, candidates are evaluating you just as you are evaluating them through the recruitment process.
Conducting Job Interviews
Never base a hiring decision on just your instincts. Write a profile of your best employees, or if this is your first hire, write what qualities your ideal candidate will have. Use this as a template for screening each applicant you interview.
For a small business, it's vital that your new employee will fit in with your company culture. If an employee isn't a good match, he won't perform as well as you may have hoped, and you may have to replace that employee and go through the whole recruitment process again. The strengths and weaknesses of an organization usually begin with the people working there.
Employee Traits to Consider
If you have just started hiring for your small business and have few if any employees, here are some traits to consider:
- A self-starter: Someone who can work unsupervised, and if she sees that something needs to be done, she is able to do it.
- Career-oriented: Someone who is looking for a company with which to grow and who understands that hard work in the early years can lead to opportunities in the future.
- Team-oriented: Working well with others should be one of the key traits for which you look. Small businesses can't often offer the perks that large corporations can, but having a friendly work environment for everyone is something you can offer.
- Customer-oriented: For a small business, every face is the face of the company. A small business can thrive or fail based on how one employee interacts with the customers.
Designing Interview Questions
Interview questions usually fall into three categories: behavioral, competency and situational. Behavioral and competency questions evaluate the job candidate's experience, job skills and personal attributes, while situational questions tell you how the candidate would act or respond in specific situations to be expected if he took the job.
Be certain to review federal and state laws on what you are not allowed to ask job candidates during an interview. These include such things as the applicant's age, medical history, marital status, details about his children and his religion.
Sample Interview Questions
Here are 10 sample questions or statements that will give the applicant a chance to demonstrate her behavior and competence in specific situations.
- Describe a specific time when you were faced with a particularly stressful situation and how you resolved it.
- Tell me about a goal you set and how you achieved it.
- Describe the last time you were faced with conflict in the workplace and how you responded to it.
- Tell me about a difficult decision you faced at your last job and how you made your decision.
- Discuss the biggest mistake you have made at work and how you managed the situation afterward.
- Give me an example of when you took the lead at work.
- How would you respond if an employer asked you to do something with which you don't agree?
- How did your education prepare you for the workplace?
- Describe a time when a customer was upset and how you responded.
- Tell me about a recent time when you had to motivate your co-workers.
It's never a good idea to jump into the hiring process, especially if it's a position that will entail a lot of responsibility. During the first interview, ask each promising candidate for references and contact them before bringing in the candidate for a second interview or to offer him the position.
- Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business: Best Practices for Hiring New Employees Guide
- 15 Best Job Search Sites Tailored for Your Career Goals
- Monster: How to Write a Job Description That Finds You Great Candidates
- Virginia Education Wizard: The STAR Method
- Purdue University Extension: The Hiring Process
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.