September 24, 2019

Your Hiring Process, Simplified: A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Hiring a Breeze

Illustration of a hand drawing two lines through a maze. One is complicated and one is a simple path.

Hiring is a high stakes game. 

You need the right people in the right roles, but without the right process, you're going to have a hard time getting there.

In today's candidate-driven market, companies are being put under intense pressure to improve their employer brands and start treating applicants and candidates the way they deserve to be treated—like people.

Maybe that's why a whopping 72.8% of employers say they're having a tough time finding skilled candidates.

Bottom line: You can't afford to fire from the hip when it comes to hiring.

You need a process.

This handy guide will walk you through it, step by step. Check it out.

Step 1: Identify the hiring need

This first step might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many companies jump head first into hiring without making 100% sure they actually need someone first.

Get together with your hiring manager and any other key stakeholders and map out a clear list of tasks and responsibilities this new role will cover. Assuming, you need the help you think you need, this is also a great time to have a brass tacks discussion on which skills and requirements should be must-haves vs. nice-to-haves.

Questions to consider:

  • Do we really have enough work for a full time role?
  • How many hours per week are we spending on these tasks?
  • Could the tasks in question be outsourced?
  • How much revenue could we gain by hiring someone in this position?


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Step 2: Set your budget

There's no way to sugarcoat it, hiring can get pricey.

Unless you've got a talent budget to rival the likes of Netflix and Google, it's probably a wise idea to sit down and set some limits. The amount of money you'll need to spend is probably going to vary depending on the role in question.

For example, you might be able to find admin help on the top job boards, but if you're looking for your next CMO, you may need to engage a premium recruitment agency.

Whatever the case, make sure you account for the following expenses:

  • Job ads - these can range from $25 per post to $5,000 per month
  • Employee referrals - including any bonuses or other incentives
  • Recruiting agency fees - these average at about $18,500 per year based on industry and volume
  • Employer branding - custom Careers site, social media ads, print media, etc.
  • Travel expenses
  • Paid test projects


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Step 3: Plan your process

Here's where the rubber meets the road.

It's a tight talent market and your recruitment and hiring process says something about the quality of your employer brand. So, take some time to get it right.

Sit down with your hiring team and take a look at the following:

  • Hiring timeline
  • Candidate screening criteria
  • Hiring team members
  • Interview questions
  • Instructions for taking and sharing notes
  • Candidate communication, follow up and survey

If you're planning to use an ATS to track and manage all your applicants, look for one that makes it easy to score and discuss candidates as a team.

Some ATS's even included automated email templates that go out when a candidate reaches a specific stage in the process. It's a small by powerful way to improve the candidate experience and bolster your employer brand with every incoming application.


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Step 4: Create a job description

Now for the fun part!

A great job description will double as an avatar for your ideal candidate and attract quality candidates like a magnet.

Here are some tips to help you write a stellar job description:

  • Use social proof such as a team video or employee testimonials
  • Include photos from group outings, annual meetups or other activities
  • If the position reports to the C-suite, has a direct impact on the success of the business and/or its customers, include that info
  • Replace the 'Responsibilities' section with an outcome-driven 'Impact' section
  • State compensation clearly
  • Include opportunities for professional growth and learning
  • Include a timeline for what the candidate will accomplish in their first six months and after their first year


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Step 5: Promote your open role

Once you've got your shiny new job ad ready to go, it's time to promote the heck out of your new open role!

Start by spreading the word internally. Employee referrals are an excellent source of quality candidates, so make sure it's the first place you look.

After that, it's all about getting the word out on all the right owned and external channels:

  • Company website
  • Free job boards
  • Paid, niche or specialty job boards
  • Social media channels
  • Job fairs
  • Industry publications

Most ATS's will automatically post your open role to all the free job boards, saving you a ton of time copy/pasting. Definitely something to look into if you're planning to optimize your online presence!


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Step 6: Start sourcing

Job boards are great for getting the word out, but unfortunately, there's not much in the way of quality control. In fact, 47% of small businesses report few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.

That's why the best employers out there go beyond a 'post and pray' approach to finding and hiring top-shelf talent. By actively sourcing your own candidate leads, you can access a large pool of passive talent and gain more control over candidate quality.

Start by listing the associations, conferences, Facebook groups, Slack forums or Twitter chats your ideal candidates are following.

Once you've got your list of high-quality candidates, you're ready to engage:

  • Start by sharing a relevant comment about something they've done or said
  • Mention that you've got an exciting new role they might be interested in
  • Ask if you can move the convo to Inmail or email
  • Send a relaxed and friendly greeting message
  • Tell the candidate what it was about their profile that caught your eye
  • Provide a genuine reason why you think they might be interested in working with you


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Step 7: Screen applicants

If you followed all of the previous steps, by this point you'll find yourself with both a steady stream of incoming applicants AND a list of high-quality candidates. 

To make sure only the best of the best applicants make it to the next round, you'll need to set up a screening mechanism. Pre-screening questionnaires are a great way to get make sure the basics are covered before moving any candidates to the next stage.

You can ask questions like:

  • How many years experience do you have?
  • What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
  • What languages do you speak?
  • Are you authorized to work in the US?
  • What tools do you know how to use?

You can set up your ATS to automatically send a follow-up questionnaire or email to qualified and disqualified candidates letting them know where they stand. (Trust us, they'll love you for it!)

If you don't have an ATS, you can manually move applicants to a "Considered" or "Not Considered" list. 

Some employers also choose to do a little social media and/or video screening at this point, before inviting candidates for a pre-screening interview. These can be especially helpful for customer-facing roles.


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Step 8: Screening interview

The next step is to get your candidate on a quick video or phone call to get a better feel for who they are. 

The goal of this step isn't to figure out who you want to hire, it's to figure out who you want to meet for an in-depth interview.

Here are a few tips to keep the screening interview friendly, yet focused:

  • Ask the candidate to share a bit of their life story
  • Go over past experiences in more detail
  • Ask specific questions to screen for red flags and make sure they meet the job criteria
  • Ask the candidate if they have any questions

Some employers also include an additional layer of screening at this step in the process, such as a personality assessment or paid test project. Think about what makes the most sense for your org and for the role in question.


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Step 9: In-depth interview

If you're hiring for an in-house role, it's always a good idea to meet face-to-face onsite at your workplace. 

For remote roles, video interviews can work just as well, assuming your'e able to keep your game face on (and do whatever you can to avoid those irksome technical challenges).

Either way, the point of this interview is to dig deep and to get a real understanding of how this person ticks, and the unique value they can bring to the team.

Here are some tips to help get all the right insights from your in-depth interview:

  • Align your questions with your core values and expectations
  • Ask scenario-based problem-solving questions (examples in the link below)
  • Use the insights from the screening interview, personality assessment, and/or test project to guide the conversation
  • Listen more than you speak

Depending on the company's goals, you may want to follow up with an onsite meet and greet where your top candidates can come in for a team lunch or special one-day project. Some companies even invite their top candidates for a 'meet the spouse' interview.

Again, it all comes down your unique company culture and hiring philosophy. Don't be afraid to get creative with it!


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Step 10: Run your background and reference checks

Once you've decided who your next rockstar will be, run any necessary background and reference checks to make sure those boxes are ticked before you move ahead with an offer.

You'll also want to make sure you update your candidate on where they stand in the process so they don't take another offer in the meantime.

Some ATS's come with automated reference and background checks, which can make this process super quick and easy.


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Step 11: Make an offer


You've found your dream candidate and they've passed their reference and/or background checks with flying colors. It's time to make an offer!

Create a formal job offer letter including:

  • Company logo
  • Greeting line
  • A clear statement confirming the job offer
  • Position name, title and department and name of the person they will be reporting to
  • Position status (full time, part time, temporary).
  • Start date
  • Pay rate (usually listed as an hourly rate, plus any overtime)
  • Benefits (vacation policy, health insurance, etc.)
  • Total weekly work hours, working schedule and overtime policy
  • Privacy and confidentiality agreements
  • Termination conditions

Want to snag up your star candidate before the final checks are complete? No problem. 

Just add a disclaimer indicating that the offer is contingent on the applicant’s ability to meet any final selection requirements (e.g., background checks).


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The rest is up to you

The truth is, there's no magic formula for hiring.

Whether it's incorporating a fun test project, inviting candidates to work alongside your team, or simply having a laugh during an interview, your process should reflect who you are as a company.

Use these steps as a general outline to get you moving in the right direction. After that, it's all about doing more of what works for you and your candidates.