How to hire the right employee in 11 steps

·8-min read
How to hire the right employee in 11 steps
How to hire the right employee in 11 steps

Needing to hire a new employee can be a positive sign that your business is doing well and growing at a good rate. Or it can serve as an opportunity to inject your team with some fresh perspectives and ideas.

While it does take considerable time and effort to find your perfect candidate, you’ll never regret investing in the search.

Breaking up the process into manageable parts will make it easier to tackle the hiring process, and we have detailed steps to walk you through the process.

1. Research

Before you can get started, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about what you need from a new employee and the skills they’ll require to get those tasks done.

Do some preliminary research. Look for online postings for similar roles and job openings to get an idea of what other employers are looking for in terms of skills and experience.

Spend some time thinking about a reasonable salary range for the role. If this is a brand-new role within your company, compare industry averages. Explore what kinds of benefits packages are standard as well.

Keep your notes for when it’s time to draw up the job description and an employment contract — and make sure you've found the right platform for your posting.

2. Create a job title

This is surprisingly important. Even if you have a fun, quirky vibe going at your office, keep your job descriptions simple and straightforward but descriptive.

Err on the side of being concise and clear. And unless you’re looking for a new member of The Rolling Stones, don’t include the term “rockstar.” The same goes for “guru,” “ninja” and “master of fun” or any other buzzwords.

Not only are those cutesy terms a turn-off for job applicants, candidates are very unlikely to use them in titles when they’re searching for jobs.

3. Write a job description

Now that you have the perfect job title, it’s time to write a description to go along with it.

This is another document you’ll want to approach with a focus on being clear, accurate and descriptive. Make sure it includes keywords relevant to the job and education or training required.

Don’t shy away from asking for input from your team, fellow managers and industry peers about what skills and tasks should be included in this description.

Once it’s been perfected, post that description and wait for the applications to start pouring in.

4. Review applications

Two people looking at application on clipboard, sitting across a desk
Mercigod / Shutterstock

Once your posting has attracted some attention and you’ve received a few applications, you can start creating a pool of qualified candidates .

Start with the top-level requirements: if you’ve asked for specific education or experience, filter out anyone who doesn’t meet that standard.

With the applicants left after your initial screening, it helps to make a few piles of resumes: A “definite yes” pile and one for the “maybes.”

The goal here is to narrow down your pool to a manageable number of applicants to proceed with. If you have questions about their application or resume, reach out to them and give them an opportunity to address your inquiries.

Once you’re satisfied with a few strong contenders, you can move forward with interviews.

5. Interviews

Line up of people sitting in chairs from the shoulders down

A quick initial call with your top candidates can help save you a lot of time if it’s clear off the bat that someone isn’t a good fit for the workplace (or maybe you’re not a good fit for their next move either).

After your calls, pick your top three applicants to come in for an in-person meeting. Have a list of interview questions prepared that go over the basics of the job, their prior experience and any personality aspects that would make them a good fit for the company culture-wise.

Now this is really important. There are certain questions you are law-bound to skip to avoid discrimination in the hiring process.

In adherence with local, federal and state employment laws, avoid discussions of:

  • Religion.

  • Race.

  • Marital status .

  • Sex (including gender and sexual orientation).

  • Disability.

  • Age.

  • Citizenship status.

If you want to get to know candidates a little better, ask them to tell you a little about themselves. That puts the ball in their court in terms of what they’d like to share.

And you can ask them about their strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, why they’d like to work for your company, the work environment they think suits them best — all these questions will tell you plenty about a candidate as well.

Try to stay engaged in the interview. Ideally, it should be conversational rather than more formally structured.. But make sure you jot down any relevant notes so you can refer back to those points when it’s time to pick a candidate.

And make sure you set aside sufficient time for each prospect, because interviewing candidates can take longer than you might initially think.

6. Check references

Some employers jump to hire after an excellent interview...But taking the extra step of checking references can be very illuminating.

References can help back up any claims your candidate has made and shed some light on what they’re really like. A good rule of thumb is to ask each of your finalists for three references.

In addition to asking these references to confirm the details in a person’s resume, ask them about what it’s like to work with the candidate and about their strengths and weaknesses and whether they’d recommend you hire the person and if so, why.

7. Keep the process organized

Whether you’re hiring for one job or multiple roles at one time, you’re no doubt working on other important projects as well.

You may think you’ll remember everything perfectly after interviews, but keep detailed notes so you don’t have to.

And to keep things from blending together or getting confused, keep your recruitment files all together and separate from your other work files. Within the recruitment folder, keep all your different roles separate as well.

8. Choose your candidate

If you’ve had some thorough interviews, received positive feedback from references and kept detailed notes, hopefully picking your ideal candidate is an easy decision.

But if you find you have a few different people who would all make excellent employees, you’ll need to do some reflecting. If everyone’s skills and experience are roughly at the same level, spend some time figuring out who might fit in best with the team.

Especially if you are a small business owner, a good fit for your company culture can be the difference between a team that runs smoothly and one that does not.

9. Send your employment offer

close up of man's hands dialing phone
Don Pablo / Shutterstock

When you’re ready to make a job offer, give your top candidate a quick call. Run through the details of what you’re offering in terms of salary, hours, benefits and start date. If your candidate decides they want to move forward, go ahead and send them an official job offer letter.

Make sure you include all the details you discussed over the phone in the offer letter.

If you have a legal team, it’s not a bad idea to get them to review the letter before you send it out. If you’re planning to make more than one hire this time around, it may benefit you to have the legal eagles help you draw up a template for these letters to make the process even easier.

10. Notify rejected applicants

Not all workplaces do this, but it’s a nice touch to reach out to the candidates you decide not to go with. You should wait to do this until your preferred candidate accepts the offer to avoid any awkward calls to your second-choice pick.

But be honest, fair and provide them with feedback if they ask why they were not chosen. Wish them well on their job search, but only offer to keep them in mind for future roles if you mean it.

11. Finish legal and administrative paperwork promptly

Hand of businesswoman writing on paper in office
Mangostar / Shutterstock

We know, paperwork is the worst. But you’ve got some regulations and legal obligations to comply with when you hire a new staff member.

We suggest consulting a legal professional to get the full picture of what’s expected of you, but here’s an outline of what you can expect to have to complete at this point:

  • Form I-9, which proves the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States.

  • Form W-9, with the employee’s Social Security Number (SSN) .

  • Form W-4, to indicate how much income tax to withhold from the employee’s wages.

For more information on all these forms, and to download them, visit the IRS’ website.

You may have some other state-level legal requirements or internal administrative processes to follow.

Be very careful not to make an error in the paperwork that could negatively impact your business or your new employee. Err on the side of caution.

Next steps: Start your hiring process today

Two women sitting across from each other at a desk, smiling
bernatets photo / Shutterstock

If you feel you’ve got the process of hiring an employee on lock, but it’s just a matter of finding excellent candidates, you may want to consider getting the help of a recruiting service.

Leading online employment marketplaces use AI-driven smart matching technology to connects millions of businesses of all sizes and job seekers.

You can even download templates for job descriptions these sites, which can help you streamline that front-end process. If that sounds like just what your business needs, many recruitment platforms even offer free trials for first-time postings.

The right employee is out there waiting to be discovered — it'll just take a little bit of work.

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