Hiring is one of the most important business decisions you can make. And getting it wrong can be costly, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses, so it’s important to know how to hire for your business.

 

Bringing in a new person will always affect a company’s direction, success and culture, hence it pays to invest time in your recruitment process and understand how to hire for your business.  The following tips will hopefully give you some insight on hiring best practices so as to put some basic tools in place to help you hire smarter.

 

Create a Job Description

Whether you’re hiring to replace someone who is leaving, to fill a gap as your business grows or even to avoid growing pains, the first step in the recruitment process is to put the business’ needs down in writing.

Regardless of the reason WHY you’re hiring, it is important to grasp the skills and type of person(ality) you are after to fit within the company culture as well as the experience the business requires. All of the above is summarised in a glorious job description.

You may feel tempted to skip this basic but essential step of the hiring process. Writing a job description takes time and requires you to assess your business’ current and future needs. You may not have the time to dedicate towards this task and you may just not see the value in writing a job description — and you’re not alone. Many companies don’t put much effort into creating a good job description.

Yet even though I can empathise with the fact that the whole process sounds like a massive hassle, defining a role is of huge importance, especially as you grow.

Not only does writing up a job description give you the time to assess the business’ true needs, it gives you the chance to have a long hard look at the business’ strategy and whether hiring is actually the best option for the business, or whether you could consider alternatives, such as training and promoting existing employees. Taking the time to assess this could save you an immense amount of time, money and heart ache later on down the track.

Job descriptions also help give direction and purpose within the business. This facilitates team work between both the leadership team (managers and supervisors) and team members. Ideally, job descriptions also help motivate your employees, as their purpose within the company is well defined alongside their success metrics and skills required to achieve it.

 

“Job descriptions also help give direction and purpose within the business.”

 

Now, let’s say you’ve sat down, thought about your business needs and have come to the conclusion you need to hire someone new. To write a truly efficient job description, you need to summarise the business’ ideal talent onto one page.

Think of it as you would a recipe. First it gives you a dish summary – details on the serving amount and size, details on the dish type (main, entree, dessert), if it is to be served Hot or Cold, etc. – they then share the ingredients you will need to create the dish before going into detail with directions on how to prepare the dish. The best recipes always end with bonuses such as what drink to pair it with.

Following this logic, I generally recommend mentioning the role’s mission and purpose (dish summary); the skills, qualifications and experience you’re after (ingredients), a breakdown of the responsabilities the person will hold as well as who they will be reporting to (cooking directions), and last but not least, the perks the business will offer to the lucky candidate (recipe bonus).

 

“Think of job descriptions as you would a recipe.”

 

When defining the role, you will also want to think about the type of employee you need. Do you need a full-time employee for ongoing employment with regular working hours or rather a fixed term or part-time employee for a specific period of time? There are many different models to suit your business needs, so best to figure those out early on.

All in all, it is important to note how crucial this step is. The reality is if you unfortunately don’t take the time to understand your business needs so as to create a well-defined job description, you will never be able to find the right fit.

Needing a helping hand to draft the perfect job description? Not sure where to start? Check out this awesome useful guide from re:Work.

 

Decide on the Right Avenue

Once you understand your business’ needs and have concurred you need to hire, the next question you may want to ask yourself is “do we have internal talent we can promote or do we need to start an external search?”

Obviously, there are a few advantages when considering internal recruitment. You’ll know what you’re getting as you already have a good idea of the team member’s strengths and capabilities. Therefore, predicting future performance will be a whole lot easier.

Offering career opportunities within your organisation is a great way of retaining your talent. Promoting internal staff is a straight-forward way to motivate them, showing them that you recognise and reward their work. No ping pong table in the world will ever have this effect.

Internal recruitment is also more cost-efficient as you’ll save money on recruitment marketing, job ads or external agencies and we know this can add up easily.

However, internal recruitment can also lead to disagreements. For instance, if several employees are interested in a vacancy and one gets promoted, the others may feel overlooked.

In addition, it can be more difficult, especially for SMEs, to reject an internal job applicant. Depending on your structure and current circumstances, you may also need to create a new vacancy to replace the employee who has filled those shoes.

External recruitment is more time-consuming and expensive for companies, therefore something you’d like to avoid, right? Yet, it has decisive advantages over the internal method.

Hiring outside the business gives you the chance for greater diversity, bringing someone onboard who has new ideas, a diverse set of skills and new potential into your company. On the other hand, the integration of new employees can be difficult and lead to longer onboarding and training periods.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both strategies will help you evaluate which method will be best for your current business needs.

 

Attract the Right Talent

So if you have followed this far, I can comfortably assume you’ve defined the job (or are very close to doing so) and decided that an external hire is best for your business.

The next step resides in how to best attract the right people to your business? Spoiler alert: There is no magic sauce or silver bullet in what you are about to read.

Attracting the right people is still the biggest challenge for many companies. If you’re not Google, Microsoft or one of the few household name businesses, you’ll need to do more than just announce that you’re hiring.

The best way to advertise your job will depend on the type of role you’re trying to fill and the industry in which your business fits in. Online advertising and searching for candidates online is standard for companies of all sizes these days but too many companies waste money by not targeting their search.

People may argue about the effectiveness of job boards these days but numbers don’t lie: online job ads still get the most views. They are fairly cheap and can be viewed around the clock. Though, keep in mind that cheap can still be too expensive if the job board or your job ad doesn’t attract the right talent.

There are many differences between providers like SEEK, Indeed, LinkedIn or “niche“ platforms like Stackoverflow, Dribble, etc in terms of price, reach, audience and technical orientation. Spray and pray shouldn’t be your best bet and a comparison of the different offers is therefore indispensable.

You can find lots of good advice on how to write compelling job ads on LinkedIn and on other websites, however a few basic rules you may want to follow in general include:

– Let applicants know what’s in it for them when applying and eventually working for you.

– Tell a story about your business and where it is headed in the future.

– List the company’s values, vision and mission statement.

– Be clear on your requirements & the skills you need – don’t try to find another unicorn.

– Avoid directive language.

– Avoid corporate cliches.

– Use “we” statements.

 

“Spray and pray is not a strategy
when it comes to hiring.”

 

Aside from attracting candidates via job boards, you may have noticed a shift to companies publishing their own content: articles, blogs, videos or other company updates on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Creating your own content is a great way to make people aware of your business, products and culture and can help you reach passive candidates in the market. Investing in your Employer Branding is certainly not a short-term strategy to attract candidates but a strategy that will pay off over time.

For many employers, social networks and industry contacts have also become rich sources to identify and find potential candidates. Making yourself familiar with the basics in sourcing and utilising personal networks can save you quite a bit of money.

 

Choose the Perfect Fit

Another tricky part of recruitment is when it comes to choosing the right candidate for the job. Before starting the interview process, you may want to create a shortlist of people you believe match your job criteria. This is especially helpful if you received a high number of applications.

The interview itself can be as formal or informal depending on your business but either way, you’ll want to make sure that your interview process is relevant to the position. In many cases, hiring is still ultimately based on a hiring manager’s gut feeling. But how do you look beyond a candidate’s resume to make a good hiring decision?

1. Conduct (semi-) structured interviews. By doing so, you will be able to ask each candidate the same relevant questions for the job at hand so as to compare their answers later on. Draft a personalised questionnaire for each job in advance to us as guide for your interviews. Fortunately, you’ve defined the role earlier in the process and therefore have a great tool to assess your candidates now.

2. Ask competency-based and behavioural questions so as to dig deeper in the interview. All too often, resumes look too good to be true. By asking these questions, you can get to the core of a candidate and assess their skills and experience rather than just assuming. This is a great way to get to know the person behind the piece of paper.

3. Dare to be creative. These days, almost every candidate will be prepared for common interview questions. Try to think of ways to truly understand how your candidates think and challenge them and their views. By orchestrating an unexpected situation, talents are more likely to share their true selves rather than the rehearsed version of themselves. Think about some unusual questions to ask your candidates that can provide insights into what makes them tick. However, don’t be too goofy here and keep questions relevant to the job.

4. Include team members in your interview process who can assess the technical skills of a candidate if you can’t yourself.

5. Check for consistency during the interview and try to ask questions differently. This way you can evaluate your candidate’s behaviour and thought patterns.

6. Take notes during the interview and only write down your observations. Avoid bias and early judgements. This will help you remain objective for as long as possible.

Bonus Tips:

  • Take people on tour and show them around your company. See how they interact with potential co-workers. Look out for tell-tale signs that this will be a good fit. If they ask questions and treat everyone they meet with respect, this is generally a great start.
  • Avoid conducting interviews when you’re stressed or angry as this will alter your perception of candidates.
  • Make the interview a bit of fun and not super clinical. At the end, you are basically running a marketing campaign for your company every time you interview a candidate.
  • You may consider psychometric and technical tests to further back up your decisions.

 

Check their References

When recruiting new employees, it makes sense to want to know more about their previous experiences. References from former employers or peers can provide you with further meaningful information, helping the final stages of the decision making process.

They may help you answer questions about your candidate’s previous work performance, behaviour, strengths and areas of development. Their value and importance in the recruitment process is undeniable and should not be overlooked.

References can be helpful, but it is important to remember they should always be taken with a “grain of salt”. References should be considered an accessory help not the basis of your decision.

Also important to remember to get your applicant’s permission before contacting former employers. Candidates may not have informed their current workplace of their wish to move on yet which may sour the relationship.

Double-check that the provided contact details are legitimate and belong to a previous direct manager. Believe me, some candidates try. Easy tricks include checking the referees’ information on their LinkedIn profile.

 

Make an Offer

Yay, we’re almost there! Now that you’ve gone through the grueling recruitment steps and that you’ve found your ideal candidate, it is time to make them an offer.

My first advice would be to make the job offer a personal matter. If you can’t offer someone the job on the spot, give them a call and share the good news. Don’t just send an email.

Get things in writing as soon as possible and don’t let your candidate wait. They may still have other interviews, so you don’t want to break things at the very last minute, do you?

If the starting date is in a few weeks, let your candidate know you’re excited about them joining.

 

Onboard Successfully

The first day and first two weeks are critical when it comes to welcoming a new individual into the team. Very much like a first date, first impressions count.

Upon arrival, candidates will make an instant decision on how long they probably want to stay with your business; and this emotional response is all based on their welcome and first impressions with the business.

Make sure you invest enough time in a proper introduction and induction for your new employee. Give them a tour around the workplace and introduce them to the team, other co-workers and most importantly clients.

Sit down and have another talk about your expectations and explain the role and responsibilities once more. Later on, give them an overview of procedures, safety rules and workplace health.

Conduct regular meetings within the first few months and give your new employee constant feedback about performance. This is important so they always know where they stand, especially during the probational period.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback to make sure you can continue to optimise your processes for the next hire.

 

“Very much like a first date,
first impressions count.”

 

If you have successfully gone through all the steps, may I say a big congratulations to you! Hiring is no easy feet and reading a whole guide on the matter is an achievement in itself!

On a more serious note, bringing someone new on board is always going to be challenging. It is a learning process for both parties and relies enormously on trust and gut feeling. If you can get past the difficulties, the rewards are well worth it!

I hope this guide will assist you on your hiring journey and to find your next perfect candidate.

Stefan

About the Author:

Stefan is a big believer in the power of education & lifelong learning, and was close to becoming a teacher but chose to dedicate himself to HR instead. Stefan's curious nature means he is particularly passionate about new technologies, social media, startups as well as innovative products & is always looking to innovate in his field.
Read more about Stefan Welack.