Hiring employees can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. A company is only as good as the people behind it, and having the right team can do wonders for its productivity, reputation and overall growth. On the other hand, the wrong hire, in some instances, could negatively impact your work environment.

To find the perfect fit for vacant positions, you need an approach that’s organized and logical.

1. Clearly Define the Job

Start with a solid idea of the responsibilities and necessary skills for the position you want to fill. What does a normal day look like for someone in this position? What duties do they have to fulfill on a daily, monthly or annual basis? Are there any particular skills that will help them fulfill certain responsibilities?

Conduct a thorough analysis of each position and use that to create a detailed job definition.

2. Define Your Ideal Candidate

Based on the job description you’ve prepared, create a profile of the perfect candidate to fill the position. List the skills, qualifications and key traits relevant to the role. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new sales representative. Your ideal candidate has some experience in sales, but you might also look for a candidate who’s motivated, cheerful and has excellent communication skills.

You should also look at your top-performing employees. Think about the skills and attributes that set them apart from other employees and add those to your profile. Use this candidate profile to find applicants who are most likely to thrive in that position.

3. Create a Checklist to Organize Your Efforts

Before you begin the hiring process, prepare a checklist of everything you have to do. This will help you keep track of your efforts and follow an organized process when hiring employees. A checklist also makes it easier to communicate progress to every involved party. You can also create a rough timeline for each checklist item so everything stays on track.

The checklist could include (but shouldn’t be limited to) the following processes along with an approximate timeline:

  • Selecting the best channels to publish your job posting.
  • Drafting and publishing a job posting.
  • Checking in on responses. You could do this a week or 2 weeks after publishing the posting, for instance.
  • Reviewing the applications and filtering out applicants who don’t have the experience or credentials required for the role.
  • Developing a set of questions to ask during a phone interview.
  • Preparing an assessment to test the candidate’s skills and capabilities.
  • Conducting group discussions or assignments to see how well the applicant works with a team.
  • Holding 1-on-1 interviews to get a feel for the candidate’s personality.
  • Making the final pick.

Feel free to adjust these steps for hiring top talent based on your unique needs. The most important thing is to ensure that the steps flow logically, and you’re filtering out the least viable applicants at every stage.

4. Draft a Compelling Ad

Craft a job posting that will immediately catch a candidate’s attention. Don’t limit the post to what you need—include information about how the role will benefit the new hire.

One way to do this is by highlighting the unique perks of working for your company and what applicants will get out of this position. For instance, you could highlight unlimited paid time off and free lunch, if your company offers those benefits. Also mention prestigious awards or recognitions that make your company stand out in its field.

5. Use the Right Resources to Find Talent

Hiring talented employees and attracting quality candidates depends on where you source your talent. Be sure using popular online job boards is a part of your strategy, but don’t limit your search to one medium.

According to a 2015 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey, employee referrals aren’t just the most used recruitment channel, but also the top source for quality hires. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents agreed that employee referrals provide the best candidates. It helps to have a referral program in place to encourage your employees to recommend people from their professional networks. Agencies are less popularly utilized, although survey respondents named them the second-best channel to get quality hires.

Online job boards are the second most-used source for recruitment, followed by social networking sites. The majority—81%—of the top-performing companies were among those that use social media for recruitment, with LinkedIn job postings being their top choice.

6. Pre-Screen Eligible Candidates

Some candidates might look great on paper but ultimately not be the right fit for a role. So pre-screening is a must, especially if you have numerous applicants.

If you’re unsure about a job candidate, bringing them into the office for an in-person interview can be a huge waste of time for everyone involved. Instead, come up with a set of preliminary interview questions to ask over the phone. This will help you assess whether you should move a candidate on to the next stage of the hiring process.

7. Assess Skills and Attributes Using Proven Methods

Interviews and resumes only give you a limited view of what a candidate is really like. It’s crucial to use reliable assessment tools and tests to analyze the applicants’ cognitive reasoning speed and behavioral traits before moving them to the next stage. Compare the results of these tests against the ideal candidate profile you created earlier and see which applicants match the profile.

You’ll need different assessments based on what the job entails and what your organization needs. For example, emotional intelligence tests are crucial for jobs that involve leadership and interpersonal relationships. To measure a candidate’s logical, numerical and verbal reasoning, you can also use a general aptitude test.

Of course, some jobs will also ask candidates to complete a sample project to test their skills and their ability to meet deadlines. This could be anything from designing a logo or writing a test article to crafting a brief presentation depending on the job role.

Personality tests like the big five model will also help you test the assertiveness and extraversion of prospective hires to see if they’re the right fit for the role.

8. Don’t Get Swayed By Likability

It’s part of human psychology to favor the people we like. However, this type of likability bias can be harmful and blinding when it comes to hiring employees. You could end up with someone who’s fun to work with but doesn’t have the skillset to excel in the position.

Of course, it’s ideal if you can find someone who’s great at their job and is fun to have around, but that’s not always how it pans out. The best hiring tips involve prioritizing the skill sets and attributes highlighted in your ideal candidate profile. Consider the likability factor only after you’ve found the most competent applicants.

9. Conduct a Background Check

Running a thorough background check on all your short-listed candidates is one of the top hiring tips for small businesses. This step allows you to verify the credentials and experience of potential hires. Note that some jobs will require a criminal background check, too. You can further extend your background check to running a Google search of the candidate and/or looking at their social media presence.

Speak with professional references to verify their work history and look for red flags (if any). This includes unexplained gaps between jobs and suspicious work history (unexplained dismissals, excessive job-hopping, etc.) This process will also help you uncover potential risks or issues that you couldn’t find through previous interviews and assessments.

10. Provide a Positive Candidate Experience

During the process of hiring employees, it’s not just you that’s making the assessment. Quality candidates also assess a company based on the interview and hiring process. In fact, according to the Undercover Recruiter blog, 66% of candidates judge a company based on their interaction with employees.

Even if you find someone who’s a perfect fit for the role, you could lose them to another employer if they’ve had a bad experience with your company. This bad experience could be anything from a lengthy hiring process to a rude or condescending hiring manager.

For example, 60% of candidates have dropped out of an application process because it took so long. A hiring process that takes longer than 4 weeks is generally too slow. Though the ideal duration may vary by industry and position, it should take about 2 to 4 weeks max.

This can be a terrible loss considering how difficult and time-consuming it is to find top talent. Besides, candidates who’ve had a bad experience with your company are sure to spread the word with their peers. Sixty-four percent of applicants say they’ll share a negative hiring experience with their friends and family.

On the other hand, a positive hiring experience can compel people to put in more effort into the job, benefiting you in the long run. According to Glassdoor, companies see a 70% improvement in their quality of hires when they invest in improving the candidate experience.

There are several basic hiring process tips to help you enhance the candidate experience.

  1. Don’t let the hiring process drag on for too long.
  2. Be clear and thorough in your communications about the interview and assessment processes, and follow up when you say you will.
  3. Even if you decide not to hire a candidate, provide them with constructive feedback so they stand a better chance next time.

11. Work on Your Branding

One of the crucial tips for hiring top talent is working on your branding. In a LinkedIn survey, 80% of leaders believe that employer branding plays a significant role in hiring employees. The Brandon Hall Group found that companies with a good employer branding strategy are 3 times more likely to make a quality hire.

In fact, 74% of Glassdoor’s users are more likely to apply for a job with companies that actively manage their employer brand. Make sure you update your company’s social and job board profiles with the latest information. Don’t forget to share updates about your work culture and respond to comments and reviews.

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