Hiring Process

Please raise your hand if you’re responsible for the HR responsibilities of a small- to medium-sized business without the luxury of those beautiful HR software management systems. It’s daunting enough to manage current employee files–nevermind using an objective hiring method that leads to quality growth in the organization. These two tasks alone are a challenge. Well, there’s good news: Creating an effective hiring system doesn’t have to be that daunting or difficult to manage.

With the right template and tools at your disposal, you could easily implement (and incorporate others into) a standard hriing process–all without fancy HR software, huge budgets, or hiring recruiters. Download the free Hiring Process Worksheetand we’ll walk through how to use it right now. When we’re done, you’ll know exactly how to create or strengthen your hiring practices that will help you make the best employment decisions possible.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

1) Start with the end in mind.

Before you start diving into any resumes or interviews, figure out what you’re looking for. Just like you would determine the nonnegotiables of a house or car or computer before purchasing, establish the top 5 to 8 outcomes the person in this role should produce. Next, identify the top 5 to 8 traits (or competencies) the person in this role will need to be successful. Create a list for each category. You can use the list to keep the nonnegotiables at the front of your mind throughout the hiring process. Also, make a list of the company-wide culture values every employee should practice (people values, work values, attitudes, etc.). 

Keep in mind that these lists should not be complex. Here are some examples:

Inside Sales Representative Outcomes

  1. Consistently come to work on time
  2. Identify & communicate the product benefits that appeal to each caller
  3. Leave a positive impression on both callers and coworkers
  4. Maintain an average transaction price per sales call of $50 or higher
  5. Ask for the close

Inside Sales Representative Competencies

  1. Must enjoy interacting with people
  2. Able to build rapport quickly
  3. Demonstrate active listening skills
  4. Able to identify opportunities to upsell
  5. Maintain a calm and professional demeanor when talking to upset callers

Company-Wide Culture Values

People Values

  1. Respect others as inherently valuable
  2. Form clear, open, and honest relationships
  3. Build positive, proactive, and loyal teams

Work Values

  1. Innovative and takes responsible risks
  2. Work hard to achieve goals
  3. Do more with less (resourcefulness)

Attitudes

  1. Be humble
  2. Teachable – never stop learning (willing to learn and receive input)
  3. Have fun – upbeat endurance, sense of humor
  4. Do the right thing (integrity)

See? Nothing overly complex going on here. By keeping the list short, sweet, and to the point, you can actually focus on the characteristics you are looking for in a qualified candidate.

2) Write the job ad.

After you’ve established what you are looking for, figure out how to write a job ad that will attract the types of candidates you want to hire. Think of this step as the first opportunity to allow candidates to get to know your organization, establish a foundation of what they are expected to bring to the position, and get a feel for the type of team they would be joining. Everything should flow out of this first piece of communication so that you won’t have to feel your way forward through each additional interaction.

3) Follow-up on each resume with an introductory phone call.

Remember, you are quite familiar with your organization. You know why it’s a great place to be and why things are done the way they are. Applicants don’t. So part of your hiring process must answer the natural question, “What’s in it for me?” that a quality candidate will be evaluating in order to decide between job offers. Answering this question is an ongoing conversation rather than a one-time response. It starts with the job ad and continues with this step.

It’s tempting–especially when there are a lot of responses to your outstanding job ad–to just start coaxing applicants to jump through the pre-determined hoops, but you will miss an opportunity to endear the candidate to your company if you give in to that temptation. Again, keep it simple. Use a phone script along these lines:

We want to find a good job fit for you and for [Talent Insights], so we strive to use our application process to learn as much as we can about you and allow you to learn about our company, as well as the job you are applying for. Our application process is multistep, including several levels of interviews, assessments, reference checks, and a background check. I will email the information for the first step to you this afternoon. If you don’t receive anything from me by the end of the day, please let me know. Thanks and I look forward to getting to know you better! 

4) Evaluate resume, application, and culture doc.

Now that candidates are in process, evaluate each step that is completed and do it as objectively as possible. This means you must assign qualitative data to the information you receive. Keeping this simple will also make it sustainable over the long term. I recommend a simple color-coded, 3-point scale: (Green = 3 points, Yellow = 2 points, Red = 1 point). Introducing a simple scoring system is not as much about eliminating candidates as it is translating subjective impressions in an objective way. It could work like this:

Scan their resume and give a basic overall score. (You will come back to the resume for more specific use later. For now, don’t get  bogged down in the details.)

  • Green (3pts) – Clear, professional communication with no immediate concerns
  • Yellow (2pts) – Need for clarification on one or more items on the resume
  • Red (1pt) – Unclear, incomplete, or poorly communicated information

Scan the application and any other assignment that was to be completed. 

  • Green (3pts) – Completed satisfactorily and returned quickly
  • Yellow (2pts) – Completed satisfactorily and returned at an average pace
  • Red (1pt) – Incomplete, completed unsatisfactorily, and/or returned slowly

5) Complete & evaluate phone interview.

Once the scores from your first phase have been tallied, it should be fairly easy to identify the candidates in the top 20%. These are the candidates you want to invite to the next step: the phone interview. The purpose of this interview is for the candidate and the organization to get to know each other a little better, in addition to clarifying previous information that has already be given by either party.

With 2 or 3 interviewers who make even $40K per year, a 30-minute phone interview is costing you $20 to $30. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it productive. Preparation and evaluation is key. As much as possible, tie these questions back to the core outcomes, competencies, and culture values that you have already lined out; but do so with open-ended, get-to-know-you questions and have each interviewer evaluate the responses. This allows for an effective apple-to-apples comparison of candidates.

Evaluate candidate answers to each prepared question this way. 

  • Green (3pts) – Specific and positive example of desired role fit
  • Yellow (2pts) – Neutral example that doesn’t indicate role fit
  • Red (1pt) – Negative or missing example of desired role fit

All interviewers should submit their candidate scores for future reference.

6) Evaluate assessment results.

If you still have a lot of candidates for one position, use the phone interview score totals to select the top 20% again to continue on. However, if you are a smaller organization, you may want to consider dismissing only the candidates who performed poorly in the phone interview and invite the rest to continue to the next step of job assessments. Our simple scoring system works here, too!

Assessment completion. 

  • Green (3pts) – Completed in a timely manner, received quality scores, high probability of fit
  • Yellow (2pts) – Completed in a timely manner, received average scores, may fit but some concerns
  • Red (1pt) – Incomplete or completed in a late manner, received poor scores, low probability of fit

Each assessment can receive its own scoring to be added to the candidate’s profile and referenced in the future.

7) Complete & evaluate face-to-face interview.

You know the drill now. If you are still narrowing the candidate pool, select the top 20% to continue. If not, only dismiss the candidates who are not likely to be a good role fit based on the assessment results. Just as with the phone interview, the in-person interview also has a hidden cost. Most interviews are at least an hour long and may include a panel of 3 to 5 interviewers, costing the company $60 to $100 per hour. Therefore, it is important that the panel works together as a cohesive, information-seeking team, as well as marketing the organization to the leading candidates.

Everyone should be clear on the purpose and order of each question, and every question should be chosen to draw out new information that will help in assessing the quality of role and culture fit of the candidate. Follow-up questions should be probing or clarifying concerning or unclear answers, not helping the candidate give the “right” answer. Additionally, do not ask follow-up questions that assume the candidate made a positive choice (ex: How did you correct your mistake?). Instead, leave room for the candidate to tell you the bad news (ex: What happened next? And then what?). All questions should be open-ended and interviewers should listen a lot more than they talk. Don’t be afraid of a few awkward moments of silence or even tension. These can hold clues to how the candidate will perform under pressure or stress.

Now it’s time to apply the scoring system to the interview question responses. 

  • Green (3pts) – Specific and positive examples associated with successful job performance, specific and positive examples of desired company culture fit
  • Yellow (2pts) – Some positive examples associated with successful job performance, some positive examples associated with desired company culture fit
  • Red (1pt) – Poor or missing examples associated with successful job performance, poor or missing examples of desired company culture fit

8) Complete & evaluate background check.

Using background checks are more complex than the scope of this post will allow, so I will leave it at this: Save the background checks for the final step for qualified candidates and you will automatically eliminate the majority of sticky spots of using them! By this point, you are familiar enough with the scoring system on each step of the hiring process so I will leave it to you to create your own scores for background check results.

9) Make the job offer!

Most likely, you have narrowed your candidate pool down to 3 possibilities. Here is where these basic evaluation scores will pay off. You can simply add up the points to objectively see who is the strongest candidate. Before you do, consider whether to give extra weight to particular categories. For example, at Talent Insights we take culture fit very seriously because we’ve experienced the truth of the adage: Hire for character. Train for skill. So we choose to give more weight to a candidate’s culture score (character) than we do their resume or work experience (skill).

10) Help everyone get off to the best start.

There is one final step in your hiring practices that would be easy to overlook in the transition to onboarding. Get the manager and candidate off to the best start. Remember those assessments you used earlier? They are chock-full of helpful information the manager will need to effectively invest in the new hire’s professional growth and development. Take a few minutes to meet with the manager to discuss the job-related implications of assessment results.

Last, but certainly not least, archive all records for each candidate regardless of what step in the process they made it to. This way, all information gathered is available for future reference. Then, you’re in a good position to make further improvements to your hiring process over time. And you know what the best part is? Next time, everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and why it needs to be done. Won’t that feel A LOT better?

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