Finding the perfect candidate for your open position can sometimes seem like a daunting and nearly impossible task. It may feel like trying to find the needle in a haystack. Landing an ideal hire is possible — unless your recruitment strategy is all out of whack.
Compiling a list of professional and personal attributes for the open position can help you weed out the bad seeds and recruit a high-quality team member. Detailing traits like resourcefulness, competitiveness, coachability, and leadership abilities prevent you from just taking a shot in the dark. Here’s a simple step-by-step process you can use to avoid hiring a lame duck.
Proactively sourcing through resume databases, referrals, or job boards can save you time and build a rigorous hiring pipeline that can be filtered for your specific needs. You can begin your search through these methods:
Staffing agencies: A great source for pre-vetted candidates. When you are in the beginning stages of building your dream team, staffing agencies can help you acquire a ready-to-go candidate with speed and effectiveness, since agencies want people to get hired as soon as possible to start cashing in their cut.
Referral recruiting: This will become your main method of sourcing if you already have a respectable staff. Referral recruiting gives you the highest-quality source of staff using the lowest possible cost.
Job boards: This should be your last resort mainly because it’s a grab bag of people. Include what your screening process looks like to deter lazybones. Direct sourcing off of sites like LinkedIn and Talent Bin can yield positive results if you screen your search using specific titles and companies of interest.
02. The screening process
We’re sure you’re incredibly busy, so put the time cost of screening on the candidate by having them perform some lightweight work as a first step. This could be a written screen of about 10 or so open-ended questions to judge their ability to communicate clearly and persuasively. Phone prescreenings can be a huge time suck. You can stop reading a written screen at any time, but you can’t just hang up on a guy in the middle of a phone interview.
More experienced candidates may scoff at the idea of a written screen because they are used to traditional hiring processes. If your candidate thinks they are above a prescreen, that could be an indicator of bad behavior. If they feel offended, how will they react to direction or coaching?
If a written screen isn’t enough or you want to know more about your hire, a 30-minute phone call should suffice. The phone call can act as a behavioral assessment. By “missing” their incoming screen call, you get to see how punctual they are and also what their voice mail sounds like and how long they take to call back or e-mail. This shows proactiveness and persistence.
During these screening processes, make sure to take notes. Having a “green flag,” “yellow flag,” and “red flag” section can help you compare potential candidates.
03. The interview
If you’ve done everything right up until this point, the screening process should have saved you time by not engaging face to face too early. If you’re inviting your candidate for an in-house interview, you should be leaning towards a sure hire. The purpose of interviews should be to find out anything that you may have missed about the person, get a team perspective, and build a consensus.
A “cultural interview” should be the last step in your interview process. It basically means that you and your team would take the potential hire out for drinks or coffee to assess how they organically mesh with everyone.
If you have doubts on whether you should hire someone, then don’t hire them. You need to be confident in your decision. A good problem to have would be deciding between multiple qualified candidates. If possible, hire all of them.
04. Compensation and closing
Compensation doesn’t have to be negotiated. Having a figure ready is more beneficial to you instead of simply deciding based on what the candidate asked for or how much they earned previously. Looking up compensation rates on Glassdoor or PayScale will enlighten you to the market rates of that specific position and the economics of your business.
Closing the deal should involve a two-step process: a verbal offer via phone followed by an official offer letter once you know the hire will sign on. Don’t send the offer letter unless you are sure that the hire will sign on, or else it can be used as leverage for their current employer or a competitor. If you choose not to proceed with a hire, just tell them that your team discussed it and felt it wasn’t a fit. Going any deeper than that might lead to a lawsuit in this litigious world we live in.
05. After you close
After you close, don’t have too much time before the start date. Keep the momentum going and prepare any paperwork before their start date. Having them up to speed will save you time and money.
Conducting your hiring process with this bottom-up approach means that because you methodically detailed your specific needs for the position, the person you hire will match your needs to a T.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.