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Hiring the right person is one of the most important decisions your company can make. That’s why it’s important to have a process in place to identify the most qualified applicants.
In general, the hiring process involves the steps shown here:
- Determine staffing needs: Determine the reason for the opening and the type of employee that would best fit those needs (i.e., full-time, part-time, temporary, etc.).
- Analyze and evaluate the job: Identify key attributes of the job, develop a job description, and create an effective job ad.
- Recruit candidates: Create and post job ads, network, and/or seek talent internally.
- Pre-screen candidates: Using resumes, employment applications, and pre-screening questions, evaluate applicants’ employment history, experience, and qualifications.
- Conduct interviews: Ask questions about their job-related skills, experience, and qualifications.
- Select a candidate: Determine which candidate is best suited for the job based on the information collected.
- Extend an offer: Extend a conditional job offer to the candidate.
- Complete background check and other pre-employment testing: After obtaining authorization from the candidate, conduct job-related background checks, reference checks or other pre-employment testing in accordance with applicable law
Determining Your Staffing Needs
Identify business needs to determine whether you need someone on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis.
Full-Time and Part-Time:
Full-time employees typically work 30 or more hours per week and part-time employees generally work less than 30 hours per week. Depending on your business, you may choose to provide both full-time and part-time employees with benefits, such as paid time off and health insurance. Typically, part-time employees are provided with benefits on a pro-rated basis.
If you need to fill a vacancy due to a temporary need, (i.e., as a result of a full-time employee being out on leave or disability), then a temporary employee may be a viable option. Temporary employees are generally not eligible for company benefits.
If business picks up during certain times of the year, consider hiring employees just for those occasions. For example, retail establishments hire these types of workers during the holiday season and parks and recreation facilities hire these workers during the summer months.
If you need to complete a specialized project and need the work of an expert, you may want to consider an independent contractor. Independent contractors work for themselves and are not employees of the company, which eliminates the costs incurred from employment taxes and workers’ compensation insurance for these individuals.
Once you have identified an open position, you must decide the best approach(es) to attracting candidates. Depending on your needs, these options may include:
- Internal Candidates: These candidates are already familiar with the company and its policies, which may reduce training time and increase the chance for success. You can also save time and money spent on traditional recruiting and applicant processing.
- Employee Referral Programs: Employers encourage their current employees to recommend positions available in the company to qualified people they know and offer incentives for any referrals that result in a successful hire.
- Online Advertising: Online postings are generally affordable and often lack the space constraints of print ads. The popularity of online job boards makes it a powerful medium for reaching a large candidate pool in various geographical areas.
- Newspaper Advertising: Newspaper ads are limited in content and geographic span. They’re best used for entry-level or local positions.
- Staffing Agencies: Staffing agencies can be an effective way to find qualified candidates when you don’t have the time or resources to do your own recruiting, need to hire for a highly specialized position, or when you’re looking for temporary employees.
- Trade Journals & Professional Associations: This approach limits your audience to those with a specialized professional background. Best used for: vocational, specialized, or medical positions.
- Career Fairs & College Career Centers: Job fairs give you a chance to meet job-seekers face-to-face and discuss employment opportunities. If you’re seeking interns, try advertising in the school’s newspaper and in the student center. Best used for: fields with high turnover or a position that suits new graduates.
Identifying Qualified Candidates
Once you have posted your job ad, you will start to receive resumes, cover letters, and other relevant information from interested candidates. By establishing a clearly defined pre-screening process, you can help narrow the applicant pool down to the most qualified candidates.
Depending on the role, pre-screening may include, but is not limited to:
- Pre-screening questions
- Reviewing resumes
- Reviewing application forms
- Pre-employment tests
By having candidates answer job-related pre-screening questions prior to an interview, it can help you better assess whether they have the minimum qualifications required. Pre-screening questions should be tailored to the role.
Resumes are another valuable tool for assessing a candidate’s qualifications, including their employment history, skills, and accomplishments. However, because resumes allow applicants to provide information in a format and style of their choice, it generally means resumes provide you with the information that the applicant wants to share. Resumes should always be used in conjunction with an employment application and other pre-employment assessments.
Application forms allow you to collect information about work history, educational background, and qualifications in a standardized way. This can make it easier to compare candidates to one another. Application forms also allow you to request job-related information candidates usually exclude from resumes, such as reasons for leaving previous jobs and salary history.
Note: Equal Employment Opportunity laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, require employers to retain resumes and employment applications for at least one year.
The use of reliable and valid pre-employment tests is another way to help identify qualified candidates. Depending on the type of position, pre-employment tests may be used to assess personality, knowledge/skills, or cognitive abilities. When using pre-employment tests, ensure they are job-related, reliable and valid, and avoid relying solely on such results when making selection decisions.
NOTE: Certain pre-screening tools have the potential to reveal protected class information. Use extreme caution when requiring candidates to upload video or voice recordings or answer questions that may unintentionally elicit protected information. Be mindful of applicable federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws as you implement pre-screening tools and review responses. All selection decisions must be job-related.
Candidates should provide a list of at least three professional references on their application form. Ideal references are current or former supervisors or managers who can attest to the candidate’s work experience and skills.
Establish guidelines for hiring managers or HR personnel responsible for checking candidates’ references, including:
- Decide when to check references. It is generally considered a best practice to wait until you have extended a conditional offer of employment before conducting reference checks. If your company performs reference checks earlier in the hiring process, make sure you are consistent about the timing and only conduct them on candidates who are seriously being considered for the position.
- Obtain authorization. Prior to conducting a reference check, obtain authorization from the applicant. Ask him or her to sign a form authorizing their former employer to disclose job-related information to your company.
- Decide what information to seek. Many employers use reference checks simply to verify information provided in employment applications, resumes, and interviews. For instance, they may use the reference check to confirm dates of employment and positions held, which most employers are willing to disclose. Seeking information on any performance- or conduct-related issues can be more of a challenge because fewer employers are willing to provide this type of information.
- Only seek job-related information. Whatever information you seek, make sure it is job-related and that your questions are consistent. Never seek information that is protected by federal, state, or local law, such as the individual’s membership in a protected class, use of job-protected leave, or workers’ compensation history (most states).
- Talk with the reference directly. Contact the reference directly via phone, even if a job candidate provides a letter from their reference.
- Use only job-related information to make decisions. Even if you ask for strictly job-related information, it is possible a former employer may inadvertently disclose information that may not be used to make an employment decision (e.g., the individual’s age, national origin, family status, etc.). In such cases, the information must not be used to make a hiring decision.
- Comply with FCRA if using a third party. If you hire another company to perform certain background, investigative consumer or credit reference checks, you must make sure you comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In addition, a number of states have their own laws similar to the FCRA, so make sure to comply with your applicable state law.
- Document. Retain records supporting your hiring decision, including reference check information. Document when reference checks were conducted, who was contacted, and the job-related information gathered and used to make the hiring decision