How to run an effective hiring process

If you talk to small business owners in your area, and ask them what a surprisingly difficult part of running a business is, there’s a good chance that effective hiring is a popular answer. Hiring is something that can determine the success or failure of a business; new or established. 

Sometimes you think you’ve found a great hire; nice resume, decent references, compatible personalities, and you think Jackpot! Then, lo and behold, they pull a Scooby-Doo villain unmasking and something comes up that you were not expecting. Then they end up costing your business thousands of dollars and an immeasurable amount in company morale. Not ideal. 

We aren’t all doom and gloom, everyone has stories about poor fits, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We are problem solvers. So let’s go through some easy steps on how to execute effective hiring and avoid those catfishes.

Do your prep work 

As soon as the decision is made that it’s time to hire, the first step is completely internal. Book a meeting with the hiring team, This team should include; a decision-maker from the company, a couple of key people in the team who will be working with this person and your HR or Recruiting if you have one.Us this meeting to thoroughly discuss the parameters of the job, what the dream candidate looks like and what we will be looking for in the recruitment process, such as;

  • What skills do they need to accomplish the job, and what skills would be a bonus to enhance that position? Maybe they have the qualifications of a salesperson, but what if they had a background in improv? That would allow them to think quickly on their feet and avoid blunders in interactions with customers.
  • What is their knowledge level? Determine the minimum education level the candidate needs, and then list some complementary field of expertise that could benefit the role and keep an eye out for that. If you were looking for a new HR team member, maybe someone with proficiency in psychology would be an ideal candidate.
  • What abilities are needed? This can be a long wishlist. Set a goal for how many abilities an ideal candidate would match. This may be revealed during the phone screen or in-person interview level, but they may have highlighted some of them in their resume. Does the position require multitasking, time flexibility, problem-solving, ability to handle stress, good communication skills? This is a good time to think of what was lacking in the last candidate. Try and fill those shortcomings, no matter how far-fetched.
  • Personality. A bonus for us when hiring is if we could see ourselves going for a drink with the candidate after work. While this allowed us to meet some interesting people, it wasn’t an effective recruitment decision. But it’s better that we learn these mistakes the hard way rather than you, right? Make sure that the personality matches both the team, but also the personality of the position.

The main goal, aside from filling the position, is seeing what gaps are currently on the team, and how many of those gaps can be filled by this new hire. Chances are that they won’t fill every gap, but it’s a constant work in progress. Go into every new recruitment stint with a clear and unified understanding of the ideal candidate. Be as nit-picky as you want, even if you think that candidate doesn’t exist, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The last thing you want to prepare before getting into the process clarity on what that process looks like. Not every position will require the same steps in terms of interviews and assessments. For some more administrative positions a phone screen, assessment and 30-minute interview with their manager might suffice. For positions such as a managerial role it may be more appropriate for a phone screen, interview, assessment, second interview and a team interview. Before even getting started with the hiring process sit down and map out the steps and what you what the outcome to be in each of those steps. 

Use your tools, but do the work too

They say that good things come to those who wait. We argue that fantastic things come to those who try. You could just toss up a job ad on Indeed and see what comes in, but we love proactive people. Headhunting lets you take fate into your own hands and explore the pools of candidates that may not realize they’re interested until you bring forward to them the amazing opportunity you have. You may come across someone who doesn’t realize that there’s a better option for them, and they’ll be so excited to come into a position that excites them that their performance will be outstanding. 

Make sure you use a great Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for a truly effective hiring process. Find a system that is visually appealing and logically laid out for your team so you can keep everything in order. A cluttered pipeline leads to cluttered handling of clients, and you may lose the interest of that gem of a candidate. There is nothing worse than losing out on a great candidate because their email to you was lost in your inbox.

Evaluate everyone

This is one of the more time-consuming steps towards effective recruitment, but it needs to be done. Every candidate that has entered your pipeline needs to be reviewed. An effective way to do this is to check your pipeline every day, and have different tiers of the most important qualities you are looking for to help disqualify candidates. For example, from most to least important:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in the field
  2. 2 years experience
  3. Lives in the area
  4. Other qualifications

This way, when going through candidates, if they don’t have their bachelor’s degree, you can disqualify them and move on, instead of doing a full evaluation and spending all that time just to find that they don’t have the required education.

Another key trait to look at is what they say about themselves for what they can handle. This is a tricky area in the resume stage since people like to just focus on the positives. They sugar-coat things. Do their abilities seem plausible, or a little far-fetched? Be aware of those that seem a little too good to be true. Don’t discount them, but make a note to follow up with them about those abilities in future steps of the hiring process.

Phone screen for a second impression

A candidate can look fantastic on paper, but since we love proactiveness, our next step for effective recruitment is to schedule a phone screen with the candidate. This is your chance to ask questions about their resume, get a feel for their personality, and it’s a bonus if your company does a lot of work over the phone because you’ll get a sense of their phone presence.

Phone screens are great to ask them about their past experiences in workplaces, their expectations of the new job and allows them to ask questions about the workplace and culture of the company. 

A good thing to remember is that hiring is a two-sided process. The candidate is evaluating you and the company as well to see if they would be a good fit. Make sure that you, as the interviewer, are putting the best face forward on behalf of the company.

Bring them in!

This is an exciting step of the hiring process, that meet and greet is the time that you hold your breath and hope that this candidate is everything that they are perceived to be. You get the most tangible sense of if they are a good fit and how their personality blends in with the company culture. It’s a bit like a first date, it’s a lot harder for candidates to hide shortcomings when meeting face-to-face, so ask your final questions and clarify anything that you, as the recruiter, are unsure about. 

Use this time to have the candidate meet team members from their own department and others. We find that this helps eliminate first-day awkwardness. If the candidate is hired, they already recognize a few faces and the first day won’t feel as daunting. It’s good to have a bit of a conversation with the candidate and the workers so you can get their feedback afterwards. After all, companies work best when everyone is cohesive. This ‘meet the team’ step can be done in a separate interview if you want to focus an interview on more technical skills testing.

Check those references

It’s the moment of truth. All of the previous steps may have gone fantastic with the candidate, but now it’s time to hear from those that have worked with them. Follow up with the references, and use this time to gain insight into how best to work with the candidate. References should be used as a fact-checking time, but also a time to learn from previous managers how to best work with and support the candidate. Some questions that we love are: 

  • Where did you find that this candidate needed the most support?
  • Here is a description of what their day-to-day is going to look like with the company. Where do you think they will excel, where do you think they will need support and how can I best support them?
  • What’s something that you could always count on this candidate for?
  • Do you have any other advice for the next manager of this candidate?

If you have done a thorough job in the interviewing process then you should be ready to make an offer by the time the reference stage comes around. So use this time wisely, really prepare yourself or the manager of the candidate for a successful relationship. If you are not the manager and performing the reference checks, be sure to book a meeting with the manager after the references are done to provide them with the insight you just collected. 

Time for excellent onboarding

Unfortunately, we hear too many stories about candidates that left the position after a short time because the onboarding process wasn’t great. You don’t want to present a false image of the company, but you want to make sure that the candidate is properly supported to make the transition. 

A poor example of onboarding would be schmoozing the candidate with coffees, lunch dates, and after-work drinks to overly emphasize a fun workplace while leaving the training on the systems a little bit lacking. 

You want to properly display the work-life and make sure that they are getting everything they need out of the training. Be an active participant in their first few weeks with a daily check-in to keep in stride with them and make sure that things are moving smoothly. Provide them with a buddy in their onboarding process so that they have someone to turn to with questions and for support. If you leave it for too long, a poor experience can turn sour much quicker for a new hire than a seasoned team member, and this could scare off the newbie.  

Always, always, always check back in

Congratulations on your new hire! At this point, we would like to applaud you for your effective onboarding and your tireless effort in finding that great candidate. But, the work is not finished. We cannot stress enough the imperativeness of follow-ups with the new employee. It will be a whirlwind of learning and assimilating for them in the first couple of weeks, and you want to make sure that after the dust has settled, they are just as confident about the position as they were on the first day. We like to do check-ins after 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month and 3 months, after they have completed their 3-month probation they then move into the quarterly performance review schedule. 

Bring the candidate in on their own and have a relaxed, but candid conversation about their experience with the company so far. Find out what they like, what they feel could have been done better, and make sure they are happy. This is a great time to find out where the gaps in the onboarding process are, and how you can improve in the future. 

Afterwards, talk with the team and get their feedback on the new hire. The voices of your employees are the most valuable, and the cohesion of the company culture is a top priority, so it’s smart to look for any conflicts early on and work on solutions.

We absolutely love hearing about fantastic company cultures, and we know that it’s due to thoughtful and effective hiring. These steps have worked for us time and time again, but don’t get us wrong, we have had our share of unfortunate turnouts, and that’s all part of running a business. We are confident that following these steps will give you the best chance of finding a candidate that is a fantastic fit. Thanks for your time, and happy hiring!

Are you looking to expand your company? At that vital hiring stage, but unsure where to start? We’re here and happy to help if you need it. Reach out at hello@entreflow.com.