Hiring is tough work and often stressful to fit in among all the demands on your time. Here is the basic process for your use. Flesh it out with what works in your situation. Then keep a record of it for future hiring which will save time and help improve your ‘batting average’ for better hires.

Step 1: Define the Need

What goal are you achieving by hiring someone? Based on the goal, do you need full-time or part-time support? Or would a temporary, contract individual, consultant, or outsourced service provider be the smarter move?

Create or update a position description. This should include the reason for the position, the major work which it will include, and the minimum qualifications to succeed in the role.

Keep your description at a high level, do not go into details about each possible bit of work that might be required. This reduces your need to update the description repeatedly. It minimizes the complaints of individuals who might focus on ‘its not in my job description’ when changes occur.

Look at the minimum qualifications carefully. Do you really need a degree to do the job or are you using that as a place-marker for quality or maturity? Think in terms of on-going technology change – is the need for someone who can manipulate spreadsheets? Then do not ask for only one software type – someone who knows one usually can be up to speed in another quite quickly. Skip the cliches – everyone wants a self-starter, a customer-oriented person. Instead of saying ‘ excellent communications skills’, be specific.

Step 2: Define Who Will Do What

In hiring, you need to source people (see part 1, 3) obviously. But how will you treat those who apply?

Who will review resumes or applications?
What criteria will they use?
Who will respond to each applicant and how?
Will you do phone screening first (recommended) or go straight to interviewing?
Who will be involved in interviewing? Checking references?

Your process needs to be quick – good candidates do not last long in the market. It needs to be easy – or you will not follow it.

Depending on the position, you may want one or several employees involved in the interviewing. Be clear about their roles and help them prepare if necessary.  While you are not required to hire someone based on these recommendations, ignore them at your peril.  I had a potential client once whose staff had all recommended against hiring an individual and she ignored their concerns.  We met because she wanted to fire him but was fearful he might physically injure her or others if she did so…. 

If you are hiring your ‘first X specialist’ , consider involving an external specialist too. I often assist my clients in interviewing senior executives or their first HR person. Your CPA or external marketing firm might help in hiring your first book-keeper or marketing specialist, for example. Or your work may require certain testing steps – when and how will these be handled?

Step 3. How Will You Evaluate Applicants?

The goal of the interviewing process is to create a great two-way street in which both parties have the information needed to make a good decision. The best interviews are a conversation, not an interrogation.

The basic issues of assessing people for your needs include defining what makes the person a good match. Do they have the ability to do the job? Are they motivated to do this job? Will they be able to succeed in your environment? Think of these as CAN, WILL, and FIT. A simple Interview Report Form will help keep you focused on these and makes comparing candidates easier. (Ask me if you want an outline.)

CAN includes the position requirements obviously. But you may want to check one or two other dimensions of those requirements in more detail due to their importance.

WILL is a question of motivation and commitment. What experiences and evidence must you gather to know that this is the right person for this job? This might be as simple as a record of on-time work behavior and dependability. Or it might be a more complex mix of skills and experience indicating long-term focus on a specific field and type of work environment.

FIT is whether or not the person can succeed in your organization. Does their style of working mesh with yours? Do they share your most important corporate values? Will they bring in new ideas and add to the organizations’ success? If this becomes any version of ‘they look like me, like what I like’ it is not much value and can easily lead to discrimination.

In preparing to interview, you need to develop questions in each area to help you learn enough to make a good decision.

Virtual interviews have become quite common given the pandemic. Some of that is likely to continue past it. Research shows hiring managers are less trusting of candidates that they have not met in person which results in interviewing more candidates and postponing decisions. Be aware and avoid this as much as you can. There rarely is a need to do a full interview process on more than 3-4 people to make a hiring decision.

After interviewing a person, make sure you notify them as soon as possible if you are not interested. If you are interested but have other well-qualified applicants, keep good matches ‘warm’ with a quick text or response to their contacts until you are ready for final interviews.

In addition to interviews, check references once you get to one-two finalists. Develop a simple form to do that or ask for our outline. Be sure the references you talk to are past supervisors, not friends. For high school and college graduates, past bosses may be supplemented with coaches, teachers, or volunteer work leaders. You goal here is to check the most important aspects of what will help the person succeed in the role and your organization.

Step 4. Make the Offer

Call the person and make the offer. Follow up with a written offer detailing the most important aspects – title, pay, hours, location of the work, and any benefits offered. Usually it is wise to make the offer with a start date two to three weeks out although some work norms are for nearly immediate starts. Give the person a week to make their decision and sign the offer.

Tell all the other finalists that you are no longer interested, once you have an accepted offer.

Create a file with the applications/resumes and all actions/notes for all candidates. This is a protection for your organization and, if you are covered by laws or contracts which require EEO compliance, is required.

Then review this process and make notes on changes needed so you have a record of what to do and how to improve the next time you hire!