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From the pre-recruitment search to the post-interview follow ups, experienced HR professional Marisa Stribling offers her insights and advice on how your business can successfully recruit and hire great employees from start to finish. Dedicating the time to recruit and hire properly will benefit your company with reduced turnover, increased productivity and decreased struggle with underperforming employees.


How do you prepare to search for a new employee?

Focus on your company brand. Your company’s brand is essentially your company’s culture, made up of your mission, values, ethics and expectations for your employees. Each employee that’s hired within your organization should be a good match for this existing culture and strengthen both your company’s vision and goals.

Consider your talent pipeline. Will you post your job opening internally prior to sharing outside of the organization? If you have an employee who expresses interest in a role, but isn’t yet ready to fill the role, you can help get them ready for that position in the future. Essentially this gives you a pipeline of internal candidates. Be consistent with your internal policies with job openings.

  • Pro tip: Consider adding some sort of capture field to your website. When a possible candidate is searching on your website for a job opening that suits his or her skills or interests, you can collect their information for future opportunities.

Start an employee referral program. These type of programs can be very useful when recruiting new talent. Your current employees know the company brand, what it’s like to work for you and what the job requires. Offer your current employees a small incentive when a referral is hired, or after the new employees successful completes 90 days of work, as thanks for helping to recruit for your company.

Assess your company’s needs. It’s important to figure out the gap between these two questions “Where are we now?” and “Where do we need to be?” Once you identify what you need, write job description to solve it. The job description should be in place before you meet with your first candidate. Think of it as the roadmap for the position—what knowledge, skills and abilities the ideal candidate needs to bring to the table.

What are the best practices to find applicants?

You want to find the best candidates for your positions and meet all the specifications of your job descriptions. Finding the best applications starts by simply getting the word out. How do you begin to attract talent to even apply for the role? One important way is by creating job postings. You want to identify why someone would want to work for you and be clear about the job requirements, expectations and essential functions.

  • Be selective in where you post your job openings based on cost, response volume and past recruitment outcomes
  • Use an outside recruiting professional or staffing agency
  • Consider overlooked resources like job fairs and schools for potential candidates 

Depending on the position, you may receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants for each opening. That’s a lot of paperwork for your hiring point person to handle. You can upgrade from time-consuming manual processes with an automated applicant tracking system. You can even reduce your email time by 70% by keeping candidate and recruiting tasks all in one easy-to-use system. 

Female HR professional extends hand for handshake.

Stage One: The Prep

Once you’ve determined your list of potential candidates, now it’s time to identify your interview structure. There are several factors to consider, including:

  • Who from your company is involved in interviewing?
  • Where will the interviews take place—virtual or in-person?
  • How many people per interview (panel-style or one-on-one)?
  • How many interviews will take place before you make your decision?
  • What interview style is best for your company: standard, situational or behavioral?

Prepare for a successful interview by taking the time needed to internally prepare with questions and necessary documents. Each interviewer should have a copy of the applicant’s resume, perhaps their cover letter and application, and the job description to help keep the interview focused on the important pieces of the role. Lastly, make sure your interviewers confirm the time and date of the interview to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Experts strongly recommend preparing five or six interview questions ahead of time. This will help you feel more prepared for the interview itself so that you can give the candidate your undivided attention. It’ll also help you cover everything you want to discuss and interview in a consistent way.

Stage Two: The Interview

Ask open-ended questions

A best practice is to use open-ended questions to allow your candidate to give you a better sense of who they are. For example, “Are you organized?” will get a different, less job applicable response than “How would you describe your work style?”. Other sample questions include:

  • How would your coworkers describe your work ethic?”
  • How do you best manage your time and priorities?”
  • Describe a time when you needed to work through a conflict with a client.

Keep your questions job focused

It’s important to ask the right kinds of questions in the interview process to keep the conversation focused on the job at hand. It's easy to stray into troublesome waters with interview questions—even when you think you're basing questions on legitimate job factors. For example, you might want to ask about scheduling availability. To do this, you don’t want to ask questions like “Do you have reliable childcare?” Instead, you want to define and emphasize what you need in terms of scheduling availability, and then ask the candidate if they're able to meet those requirements. Asking a candidate about their childcare could easily be perceived as discriminatory. 

Female and male colleagues greet each other with a handshake.

Stage Three: The Follow Up

Reference check

Now that your potential candidate has made it through the interview process, it’s time to check their references. A hiring best practice is to contact at least one manager and one coworker for each candidate. Keep your questions strictly to the job duties required, the potential hire’s work style and their attitude. Get started with these questions:

  • “How does this person respond to feedback?”
  • “How do they react under pressure?”
  • “What are their strengths and weaknesses? Would you recommend them for this position?”

Make your selection

Using the information you’ve gathered in the interview process you can now make the best hiring decisions for your team. Keep in mind your company’s culture and make a final assessment based on the potential hire’s fit within your organization. Now is the stage to discuss offer contingencies such as a background check, drug test or physical exam.

Contact all applicants

In general, be kind and courteous to candidates who don’t meet your needs. They may turn into good hires in the future once they gain more experience, and they may be great customers between now and then.

For those who weren’t selected for an interview, draft a simple email letting them know the position was filled and that you wish them well in their job hunt. For those candidates that did have interviews, it’s a best practice to let them know your hiring decision with a phone call.

You want to tie up loose ends with your other applicants who were not chosen because failure to follow up with people who've invested their time with your company can negatively affect your business. Those candidates that don't hear anything after they've put their hopes on the line for your position will likely view this negatively and may even share their experience with others.





For more recruiting and hiring best practices, or to better your current processes, watch the full webinar replay. 

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