The Hiring Process Checklist: A Step-By-Step Guide

Kelly Cantwell

Talent acquisition is more competitive than ever today. Employers face the tightest job market in history: low unemployment rates, high job mobility and a wide skills gap. It's more difficult to fill critical jobs. Companies large and small need to develop an efficient hiring process to attract, identify, and hire people with the right skill sets and attributes to fit your team.

Developing a strategic hiring process checklist is key to fast, efficient hiring. Having updated job descriptions and success profiles ready helps streamline the process. Data-based technology helps you grease the wheels of your hiring process and ensure smooth, decisive action by identifying the best candidates fast.

Here's a hiring process checklist you can use to get on the right track.

What is a hiring process and why do you need it?

The hiring process encompasses every facet of recruiting, identifying and hiring the right people. In today’s market where there are far more open positions than qualified applicants to fill them, you need a refined hiring process to find the best and brightest candidates.

If your hiring process is working properly, you should be able to attract a pool of high-quality applicants. They’ll have the skills and personalities best suited to the open position and avoid the inconvenience and cost of a bad hire.

15-step hiring process checklist for employers

Your checklist should be created before you need to hire. Determine which characteristics and traits are most critical ahead of time, then keep them top-of-mind throughout the interviewing and onboarding processes.

How well you structure your hiring process determines whether you can efficiently identify and hire candidates who will excel at their jobs. This also determines whether you’ll waste time, money, and resources on bad hires.

hiring process checklist

Step 1: Identify which roles you need to fill

The need for new hires could stem from filling a position recently or soon to be vacated, the need to add to a team to better manage workload, or expand. Open positions may be due to new jobs added, recently vacated positions or departing employees.

Depending on the circumstances, you may have plenty of notice before a position opens. Responsible people in critical roles usually make an exit plan and may even help you find their replacement. However, sometimes an opening cannot be foreseen due to sickness, family issues, or other uncontrollable factors.

To identify which positions you need to fill, meet with your internal team to review openings. Following a hiring process checklist ensures that your time-to-fill is shortened and your process remains consistent.

Step 2: Establish your budget and timeline

For each new position, determine the salary and any other budget considerations, such as signing bonus or relocation budget, and set up a timeline for each step of the hiring process.

To speed up the process and hire more efficiently, be prepared with baseline success profiles for each critical job role. You can establish baselines by testing your top-performing employees and determining the traits and characteristics most vital to success in the role. With success profiles established, you’re ready to launch a hiring campaign as soon as a position is vacated.

Step 3: Create a job description

An effective job description includes an overview of the responsibilities and requirements for the vacant role. You’ll use it to write an ad that attracts people with the skills and qualifications you need.

Step 4: Post and promote your job internally and externally

When you write your job ad, your goal should be to appeal to candidates who will value their jobs, be successful and be proud to work for your company. In addition to required skills and education, your job ad should include salary and benefits, as well as details about your company culture. The best hires don’t just have the necessary skills; they are a good fit for your team.

During this hiring process step, you’ll need to decide how and where to look for candidates. Chances are, you already have your eye on people within your organization who show potential for advancement. You’ll cover more ground by promoting the job opening inside your company, inviting recommendations, and posting online.

Step 5: Administer and review applicant assessments

Once applications start rolling in, it’s important to have a structure in place to assess candidates before you waste time and money interviewing unsuitable candidates. Pre-employment testing is an effective way to determine whether a candidate has the skills and personality most likely to result in success on the job.

Step 6: Shortlist your applicants

With data gleaned from pre-employment testing, you can quickly narrow a large pool of candidates down to an applicant shortlist with real potential. Data makes it easy to identify potential hires who fit your job success baseline and meet all the requirements you need. This step cuts down on wasted time.

Step 7: Conduct initial phone screenings

Your checklist for hiring employees should include an initial phone interview between an HR representative and a shortlisted candidate. During the phone interview, you can confirm the candidate’s qualifications, ask for information about any gaps in their resume and talk about your organization’s culture and values. If the phone interview goes well, the next step is a face-to-face interview.

Step 8: Perform candidate interviews

In-person interviews have changed recently. Even before the novel Coronavirus, remote work was becoming more common. Conducting your in-person interviews by video call presents a few challenges because it’s harder to gauge body language and the micro-expressions that reveal deception. Whether you’re interviewing in person or via video chat, it’s important to ask effective interview questions.

Interviewing isn’t always straightforward. Candidates have a vested interest in showing you only what they want you to see and giving you the answers they think you want. Interviews have a lot of potential pitfalls you need to know. Have your interview checklist ready and look out for red flags, rehearsed answers, and signs of deception.

You may want to jot down notes and impressions during the interview to make assessment easier in the next step.

Step 9: Identify and present top candidates

After interviews conclude, your team will need to assess each candidate before making a decision. Assuming all qualifications are comparable, use your notes to further narrow down the list, and check to see if any candidate brings something new to the table. For example, a recent graduate who minored in psychology could add an extra dimension to a marketing position.

Compile and share notes with your department heads and decide which candidates will move forward in the interview process.

Step 10: Hold candidate selection interviews

The candidate selection interview often involves a small panel comprised of the initial interviewer and other interested parties, which may include the department manager, team leader, and other HR department team members. Together, the team holds a high-level interview with the shortlisted candidates to settle on the best possible choice.

Additional input from multiple people can confirm the original interviewer’s opinion and may spot issues or inconsistencies missed in the initial interview.

Step 11: Perform background checks and check references

By this hiring process step, you have chosen your primary candidate and at least one backup candidate in case your first choice falls through. Now it’s time to check references and look for criminal records, credit issues, and social media red flags. If your favorite candidate misrepresents themselves, a thorough background check will reveal what they’re hiding.

Step 12: Make a job offer and sign contract

Once you’ve settled on the candidate, you’ll need to write up an offer letter. In addition to salary, it should include details such as the benefits and perks available to employees. Quality candidates may consider other jobs, so make sure your offer is competitive. The candidate may want to negotiate. When you’ve worked out the details, formalize your agreement with a contract.

Step 13: Notify other applicants

It’s important to follow up with applicants who did not get the job. If you keep track of people you shortlisted, you can reach out to them in the future if another position opens. Replying is a common courtesy after the interview process and may make past applicants more receptive to a future offer.

Step 14. Prepare onboarding paperwork

Before your new hire can begin work, there’s always paperwork to do and information to collect. You’ll need to have the employee fill out state and federal tax forms, set up direct deposit if applicable, provide copies of ID and social security.

At the same meeting, you can go over the employee handbook and issue a security badge if necessary. Having everything prepared in advance will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Step 15. Begin the onboarding and trial period

Finally, the new hire reports to work. Most employers have a trial period to ensure the employee is adapting to the job. Especially in the early stages, it’s important to make the new hire feel welcome and comfortable. Make sure they have all the equipment and resources necessary to do the job.

Because hiring is such an exhaustive and costly process, you want to provide everything possible to ensure the success of new hires. If you choose well, it will pay off for productivity, retention, and office harmony.

Create a checklist to monitor the progress of the new employee for up to six months. Review work, talk to the employee and coworkers and identify any areas of difficulty. Make sure they have the ongoing training and mentorship they need if necessary.

What’s the average hiring process timeline?

the hiring process timeline

Time-to-fill is different for each company, but you need to be aware that top talent is in high demand. If you’re in need of high-performing professionals or tech experts, you must be prepared to make quick decisions before a competitor snatches them off the market.

Under normal circumstances, it takes an average of 42 days to fill a position. Today’s hiring market is not normal. In this hypercompetitive environment, your HR team needs to learn how to speed up hiring and be ready to make fast, confident decisions. A hiring process flowchart and step-by-step checklist will help you get it right.

Adopt a standardized hiring process checklist

Hire Success® recruitment tools and services are designed to help you improve your hiring process. Using data-driven insights, they help you develop job success profiles and identify the best potential candidates, then provide effective interview questions to ensure you’re making the right choice.

With a robust hiring process checklist in place and data analysis to inform your choices, you’ll hit the ground running when you need to fill a vacancy.

Kelly Cantwell

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