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Whether you are hiring your first employee, or you already have a staff of hundreds, recruiting best practices are critical for your business. Strong recruiting practices have significant benefits for any organization, including:

  • Lowering turnover
  • Reducing your legal risk
  • Decreasing the amount of time to fill a position
  • Increasing the quality of your new hires

Hiring your talented team is one of the most important things you do as a business owner, so it’s important that you get it right!

Here are 5 recruiting best practices to ensure your next hire is a success:

1. Define the role and the competencies for success before you start hiring.

This process starts with writing a clear job description for the role you want to fill (get our quick-start guide to writing a job description).  This doesn’t simply refer to a list of the day-to-day tasks – it goes much deeper than that.  A good job description outlines the:

  • Top 3-5 main priorities of the role
  • % of time the individual will spend on each of these priorities
  • Clear definition of the skills and abilities it takes to do the job well

In order to write a great job description, take the time to ask yourself these questions:

  • What would it look like if someone was exceeding expectations in this role?
  • What skills have my top performers demonstrated in the past?
  • What should someone love doing in order to enjoy this job?
  • What will someone never have the opportunity to do in this role?

These questions will help you to define the exact technical skills, competencies, and motivations needed for success in the role. All too often, we hurry to post a position and interview candidates without clearly defining what the new hire will do and the background they need for success.

2. Leverage behavior-based interviewing to ensure quality hires.

The concept behind behavior-based interviewing is that past behavior predicts future performance. With that in mind, an interview should focus on collecting stories from the candidate to get real insight into  the types of experiences they’ve had in the past and the approach they took in each of those situations.

This provides you with the information needed to recognize whether someone will approach the role in the manner that will make them successful in your organization. Behavioral-based interviewing is simply asking a candidate to share their stories with you and listening for the key actions they took.

The art of these interviews is asking good follow-up questions that focus on understanding the specific actions the candidate took. Remember, it’s not just about whether they have the experience. It’s also about whether they took the actions you would want them to take when working for you.

3. Overcome hidden biases

Did you know that we make 11 judgments about people in the first seven seconds we meet them? We do! Even worse, we make all sorts of judgments based solely on the resume or application before we even meet the candidate. Unconscious bias happens when our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realizing it. We operate this way in order to synthesize all of the stimuli around us. If we stop and examine these biases, they can have a significant and limiting impact on our hiring decisions.

Here’s an example: Did you ever have a candidate that you fell in love with during the first 10 minutes of the interview only to realize after you hired them that they weren’t able to do the job? This is likely the result of a positive unconscious bias. Learning how to overcome these biases is key to making high-quality hiring decisions.

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There are three key components to overcoming unconscious bias:

  1. Take time at the beginning of your search to clearly define the knowledge and competencies needed for success in the role. Focusing on these will help guide your process.
  2. Leverage behavioral interview guides to ensure you are evaluating candidates based on an interviewing methodology that truly helps you assess the candidate
  3. And finally, attend training or do work on your own to help identify your hidden biases before you act on them.

Manage your timeline to fill the position

Recruiting and hiring takes time, but if you wait too long you will lose your best candidates. It’s important that you plan your recruiting process from beginning to end and ensure that you have the resources to keep the plan on track.  A few tips to implement in your process include:

  • Define your process upfront
    • Who will be involved in the hiring decision?
    • How many rounds of interviews will be needed?
    • Will the interviews be done by phone, Zoom, or in-person?
    • What skills and competencies are you evaluating at each stage?
    • What is the timeline for completing each step of the process?
  • Setup a timeline in advance and block out dates for interviewing.
  • Discuss and align the evaluation process with all decision-makers before you begin.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities upfront to ensure a positive candidate experience.

Ensure a positive candidate experience.

You may be asking yourself, why does the candidate experience matter?  Here is the hard truth – whether the unemployment rate is at 3% or 15%, the candidate experience is crucial to your recruiting. Why?

A positive candidate experience reduces turnover. Candidates assume that how you treat them during the recruiting process is indicative of how you will treat them as employees. For example, if I start a new job after a poor candidate experience, I’m looking at every moment of onboarding as another “test” of whether or not I want to stay. If I had an amazing candidate experience, a little “bump in the road” during onboarding is easy to overlook because I am so excited to be with your company!

The candidate experience also has a huge impact on your brand. If you treat candidates poorly, they will share their negative experiences and could cost you future hires and even customers. Remember, word of mouth is a powerful thing, especially in today’s social media landscape.

You may be wondering, what makes up a positive candidate experience?  The good news is that this is one of the easiest parts of recruiting.  All it really takes is:

  • Treat each candidate with value and respect.
  • Follow up in a timely manner.
  • Be respectful of ideas and information candidates share in the interview process. Don’t require large-scale projects during the interview process.  Remember, you are not paying candidates to interview and there can be legal impacts if you ask them to produce a work product. Instead, leverage behavioral interviewing to assess an individual’s skills.
  • Create an opportunity to share skills through well-prepared questions and relevant follow-up discussions.
  • Ensure the application and interview process is easy.

Hiring talented individuals is key to growing your business. Taking the right approach will ensure you make a great hire and create an environment that makes it easy to retain your new team members.  A thoughtful and planful approach can make all the difference.

Katie Magoon

Katie Magoon

Katie Magoon is the founder at People Solutions Center, a human resources consulting firm with expertise and passion for helping companies like yours. At People Solutions Center we have a strong track record of collaborating with small businesses to develop HR solutions to meet business needs, whether you are making your first hire or focused on the HR needs for hundreds of employees!

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