The Olympics of Hiring

Aug 11 2016

Olympic RingsHow long has it been since you evaluated the way your company hires new employees? You know it’s one of your most important responsibilities, but it can be overwhelming. Since we get so many questions about hiring, we thought we’d share a hiring checklist for growing companies. We hope you find it helpful and encourage you to use it to ensure that your company shines in this critically important area.

1. Set the Target: Determine Who You Want to Hire
What skills, experience, and/or qualifications must your candidate have in order to fulfill a job’s requirements? Are your requirements based on standards that were set ages ago, or have you recently reevaluated what it takes to be successful? What about “soft skills” like the behaviors and communication preferences that drive success in your environment? Is your company in the habit of nailing this down before starting out on a labor-intensive hiring project? Who determines what’s required? How does that impact your search?

2. Get the Word Out: Figure out Where to Advertise and What to Say
In order to get applicants excited about applying to your job, you’ll need a magical mix of the right words. What do you say to entice people? Does it work? Where do you advertise? If you need help, check out our blog, “The Ultimate Guide to Job Posting Sites Like Monster and LinkedIn.” 

3. Make Time to Sort: Review Applicants
If you’ve ever advertised a job before, you know that the resumes you receive will be an interesting mix of semi-qualified and wholly unqualified people. Plan ahead for the time you’ll need to weed through and find the applicants you want to learn more about.

4. Go on the Hunt: Pick up the Phone and Network
Use all of the tools available to proactively identify “suspects” and reach out to them. The best people are probably not actively looking at advertisements, so call the people you really want and sell them on your opportunity. Speak to potential employees on the phone, develop initial impressions, and gain additional clarity around experience and qualifications.

5. Investigate: Set up Pre-Hire Assessment Tests
Now it’s time to see if your candidate can back up those impressive resume claims with some evidence. Assessments offer peace of mind and can cover everything from basic Word or Excel skills to sales aptitude, technical expertise, basic reliability, or leadership ability/potential.

6. Meet & Greet: Schedule 1st Interviews
In first interviews, you’re looking for polish, preparation, and chemistry as a follow-up to the skills you learned about in your phone screens and assessment testing. Ask for multiple examples of key experiences and seek specifics. It’s critical that the candidate demonstrates an interest in your company that’s supported by obvious research and thoughtful questions. Personality and body language will point to culture fit and compatibility.

7. Check Yourself: Evaluate Culture Fit & Hard Skills
For each person that you interview, you’ll have pros and cons. Now it’s time to dig deeper into whether that weak handshake or lack of eye contact is a sign that something larger is amiss. Did your candidate dazzle you with his personality but admit to lacking experience with a particular kind of software? Now is the time to evaluate the “Hard Skills” against the “Soft Skills” and determine if you’re willing to make allowances. The trick is balance. Avoid falling in love with the “how” and ensure you’ve fully evaluated the “what” or ensure that you’re not overlooking a superstar performer for surface-level reasons that don’t matter much in the long-run.

8. Final Round: Create Your Shortlist & Schedule 2nd Interviews
Narrow down your list. Identify pros and cons and be prepared to test them. In other words, second interviews are the time to confirm your conclusions or alleviate your concerns. Pay attention and be prepared to openly acknowledge areas of discomfort directly with the candidate to allow for ultimate clarity.

9. Talk Turkey: Discuss Compensation, Benefits, and Perks
Make sure you’re clear on who is responsible for “talking money” and negotiating. What are the boundaries? Do you have market information to help you know whether your salary is above or below the going rate? How do benefits fit in? What are the non-financial reasons this candidate wants to join you?

10. Put it in Writing: Send a Contingent Offer Letter
Once you’ve made a decision on who you’ll add to your team, it’s time to write an offer letter that outlines salary, commission, metrics, bonus options, and other perks. Typically offer letters are issued on a contingent basis—meaning the offer is conditional and depends on the successful completion of items 11 and 12. Decide whether you will require a Non-Solicitation and/or Non-Competition Agreement and, if so, present it to the candidate as part of your offer letter. Avoid surprises by talking to your candidate about what will be in the letter and then make sure that’s what is presented.

11. Trust but Verify: Conduct a Background Screen, Check References, and Schedule a Drug Test
You’ll run into great candidates who will come back with surprising information on a criminal background check. Make sure that you know what is allowed in your state and what kind of infractions are permitted and be consistent in applying those guidelines. References can be a great way to gain further knowledge into your candidate’s personality and work ethic, but it’s not always easy to get a former employer to share information openly. Decide whether you believe that this work is worth the time investment. Consider drug tests as protection for your company that can prevent potentially serious judgment, safety, and liability issues; make sure you know what the rules are in your state.

12. Paper the Files: Prepare & Complete New Hire Paperwork
For most new hires, standard paperwork includes an I-9, W-4, employee handbook, company policy statement, and E-Verify. Who is in charge of making sure paperwork and documentation is properly signed, completed, and stored?

13. Welcome Aboard: Develop an Orientation & Training Schedule
How do you train new hires and get them up-to-speed on your company’s culture, processes, programs, and expectations? Who will take your new hire to lunch, show her the restrooms, and see that she knows how to use the printer? A welcoming and organized approach to “on-boarding” ensures your new hire feels like an important part of your team. In fact, the first day and week are critically important, so set the stage up front and make sure your hiring investment pays off with a long-term employee. Check out our blog, “The Power of a Successful First Day” for more information. 

14. Time for a Check-up: Schedule a Check Point at 90 Days
Creating a strong relationship with your employees helps ensure they’ll stick around. Scheduling a 90-day check in with your new hire and her manager will give everyone the opportunity to touch base on what’s going really well and what’s been a challenge. You may even learn a few things from a fresh set of eyes!

Whew! While you move through the checklist, make sure to keep candidates updated and engaged. If you think about it, they’re jumping through 14 hoops for you and you want to be sure not to lose them along the way.

Happy Hiring!


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