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How to Hire Employees Who Are the Best of the Best

Do you know how to hire employees? What all goes into the hiring process? For starters … a lot. Too much for one regular article to cover, which is why I’ve written this mega article.

After over 30 years of trial and error, I know how to avoid hiring losers. So, I’ve wrapped up my simple hiring process steps in this detailed article, including overviews, strategies for weeding out rotten apples, best practices, and more.

Ready to learn how to hire good employees? Without further adieu, here are some tricks of the trade.

7 Steps on how to hire employees

Some businesses just have all the luck when it comes to hiring and recruitment. Or do they?

When it comes down to how to hire the best employees, it’s not just luck, folks. It’s all about being patient, communicating your business’s value, and having a reliable hiring process.

So if you’re in need of solid hiring process steps, you’ve come to the right place.

7 steps of how to hire employees laid out in blue chart

1. Decide what kinds of positions you need

Do you need salespeople? Marketers? Customer service representatives? Before you go promoting a position you haven’t nailed down yet, you need to assess your business’s needs.

As a small business owner, you may be looking for someone who can do it all. But realistically speaking, it ain’t gonna happen. So instead of asking the applicant to be good at everything, hone in on the things you need most. You can always hire more employees as your enterprise grows.

Figure out key responsibilities the employee will have on a day-to-day basis. You’ll need to know things like:

A word to the wise: Be specific. Think about the specific skills, traits, or experience you need the job applicants to have. You want to attract the right applicants, don’t you?

After you’ve gotten through the nitty-gritty details of the job, your work isn’t done. You should also have a rough idea of the pay you’re willing to offer and whether the employee will be exempt vs. nonexempt.

2. Write and post job openings online

Now, you’re ready to put pen to paper. Before you can post the job description online, you need to write it.

When writing your job description, add all of the information about the position that’s integral to finding the right fit. And, don’t forget to sell it. Think about why a job seeker would want to work at your business.

If you want a cream-of-the-crop applicant, you need to sell your workplace. Is your workplace fast-paced and constantly changing, or is it more traditional and structured? Be honest. I always encourage potential applicants to go to our website to find out who we are and what we value.

Remember to keep your ad and application legal. That means no discrimination based on race, age, religion, national origin, disability, etc. And, it means reading up on salary history laws by state.

I also like to use a job application. Interested job seekers can easily complete the online application and send their resume. This lets me spot gaps in education or experience and compare applications. In my opinion, it’s easier than sifting through a stack of resumes that all have different formats…

…But, applicant tracking software can definitely help you draw out and organize resume information. If you aren’t already, consider checking out some systems to help you store and track job descriptions, ads, and applicant documents.

Once your job description is good to go, post it online. Consider adding it to your small business website, job boards, and your social media pages. Promote the heck out of that job description for best results!

Another note: You are slowing yourself down if you are still using the classic newspaper want ads. The world has moved online. In fact, if an applicant doesn’t send me their resume online, I weed them out.

Although I always post jobs online, there are a few other sources you might want to use to find candidates:

  • Employee referral
  • Former employees
  • Workers you see in public that impress you with their skills (e.g., waiters)
  • Family members or family member referrals
  • Interns
  • Recruiters

3. Weed out the obvious duds

At this point, you’re going to start getting a bit of applicants. You’re not going to interview all of the people who send in a resume, fill out a job application, or both.

Instead, the next part of knowing how to hire employees is rejecting the obvious duds.

It is surprising how often an applicant does not have the clearly required skills for the open position. In addition to reviewing the resumes and applications, I check out the job seeker’s “online information,” including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google searches.

After looking over the resumes, I start separating those I want to move on from those who don’t meet the basic requirements.

We do not send rejection letters to applicants who are eliminated at this point, but I know some employers do. You can thank the applicant for submitting an application and wish them well.

And of course, notify the people you want to move on. For us, our next point of contact is emailing them the pre-employment questionnaire.

4. Do a bit of pre-employment screening

Pre-employment screening is yet another way to weed out candidates. But unlike the initial review, a pre-employment screening is a bit more in-depth.

I use pre-employment questionnaires (PEQs) for this part of the hiring process.

PEQs typically have some job-specific questions. It might have some short-answer essay questions or ask candidates to assign numerical ratings to statements.

To create a PEQ, we distribute a Google Form that’s connected to a Google Spreadsheet. When applicants fill out the form, their responses automatically upload to the linked spreadsheet.

PEQ responses give me a lot of information. I can find out if the applicant bothers to capitalize their name. I see whether the applicant gives themselves perfect ratings. And, I get more insight into the applicant’s writing style, which is especially important for positions that require strong writing skills.

I especially love asking open-ended questions that force the applicant to think and write full responses. Most of the time, applicants make lots of mistakes and show their weaknesses, which saves time from conducting telephone interviews.

Again, you can weed out unqualified candidates after the pre-employment screening stage and send out a job rejection email. Some candidates might even withdraw their names from consideration when filling out the PEQ.

And of course, set up interviews with the candidates who impress you.

5. Conduct phone and in-person interviews

I like to start with a phone interview before asking candidates to come into my business. That way, I don’t have dozens of candidates streaming in.

Regardless of whether you start with a phone interview or dive into the in-person ones, you need to prepare.

Come up with a list of questions to ask the candidates beforehand. Make sure the questions you ask aren’t “yes” or “no” questions. Dig deep to learn about the candidate’s past experiences and get a sense of how they would behave and handle situations on the job.

Some questions you may ask candidates include:

  • Describe a time when you were assigned a task without any direction. Would you do anything differently?
  • If someone told you that you made a mistake, how would you react? Can you give me an example?

As much as you want to be prepared, be sure that you also are open to going with the flow. If the candidate says something that makes you want to probe a little deeper, do so. You aren’t chained to your list of interview questions.

Carry on a conversation with the candidate (one where you take notes and intently listen for flaws or inconsistencies).

Interviews are great opportunities to spot red flags with a candidate. Consider looking out for things like:

  • Whether the candidate arrives late
  • Inappropriate attire
  • Cell phone usage during the interview
  • How much the candidate can keep up on an office tour
  • How quickly candidates are able to think on their feet
  • If the candidate is prepared
  • Whether the candidate has questions about the job or company
  • If the candidate really wants the job

Generally, I ask candidates to take job-fit tests before or after the interview. Job-fit tests can help you learn more about the candidate and whether or not they’d be a good fit for the position.

After conducting the interview, figure out if you need a second face-to-face interview. If you do, invite candidates in for another round.

When all is said and done, reject the applicants who aren’t a good fit. Make sure to notify them. Ghosting candidates at this stage is highly frowned upon.

If I find a candidate I am seriously interested in, I move on to the next step…

6. Don’t forget about tests and checks

Found the candidate you want to hire? That’s great. But before you make that leap, you need to do your due diligence. And you can do that by conducting tests and checks.

There are three things you should do before extending a job offer:

  • Background check
  • Reference check
  • Drug test

You can—and should—conduct a background check to make sure what the candidate said and did match up. Background checks look into an applicant’s criminal, employment, credit, driving, military, and educational records. Before conducting a background check, consult your state to find out if there are any regulations.

Many businesses conduct background checks at the end of the hiring process, but some do it at the start. You might extend a job offer beforehand and make it contingent on the results of the background check, too.

Another thing to keep in mind about background checks is that you need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For example, ask candidates for permission before conducting a background check.

Reference checks are another great tool you can use to verify what the candidate said on their resume and during their interviews is true. You can learn more information about the candidate’s responsibilities, strengths, weaknesses, and why they left.

You can also require prospective employees to take a drug test as a condition of employment. Generally, businesses cover the cost of employees taking the drug test.

One more word to the wise: when it comes to knowing how to hire employees, communication is key. Clearly communicate with the candidate before, during, and after these steps. You don’t want them to accept a position at another company while they’re waiting, do you?

7. Extend a job offer

Finally, you’ve made it to the last step of my guide on how to hire the right employee. This one is pretty straightforward—extend a job offer to the candidate.

A few things you should be aware of: some candidates might play hardball. The candidate may opt for negotiating salary increase.

If you receive a counteroffer, consider taking a step back before responding. Rushing the process might result in you agreeing to something you can’t afford. Instead, analyze your payroll budget.

Can’t afford to go any higher? Consider offering things like the ability to work from home, flexible scheduling, or other benefits.

If the candidate accepts your job offer, you’re still not done. Now you need to worry about onboarding new hires, adding them to your payroll, and training them.

Ask the small business expert—post-hiring tips

Unless you’re hiring your first employee, you probably know that your work is just beginning when the candidate accepts the job offer. Now comes the fun part of paperwork, administrative responsibilities, and training.

A few key things you’ll need to do after the candidate accepts a job offer is:

  • Gather new hire paperwork like Form I-9, Form W-4, and state W-4
  • Introduce your new hire to the rest of your team
  • Have the employee’s workstation set up for them
  • Treat the new hire to lunch, if you’d like
  • Update your payroll
  • Prioritize new hire reporting
  • Encourage current employees to help with training
  • Meet with the new hire periodically to gather feedback

Don’t forget that a new hire’s first six months in a new position are absolutely critical for engagement and retention. Now that you know how to hire employees, go out there and hire!

Hiring can be exhausting. Simplify your employer responsibilities with Patriot’s online payroll services. Our Full Service payroll calculates, withholds, deposits, and files employment taxes. 

This article has been updated from its original publication date of June 27, 2013. 

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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