So, you want to hire a new employee, but you’re not 100% sure what the ideal recruitment process looks like.
The recruitment process will vary depending on things like the size of your organisation and the number of roles you’re trying to fill. But at the most basic level, your recruitment process should include the following 8 steps.
You can apply these steps to one or multiple vacancies.
1. Form a selection committee
First, you’ll need to decide who will be making the hiring decisions. This group of people will be your “selection committee”.
If you run a small business, your selection committee might only include you! But in most organisations, you’ll want at least two people on your committee. For larger organisations, consider up to four.
Members of your selection committee should be objective, and should represent your company’s best interests. You’ll also want to make sure the members understand the vacancy you’re trying to fill, and have a good understanding of equal opportunities.
2. Write a job description
You’ll attract better candidates if you write a good job description.
According to leading UK recruitment company Michael Page, there are 11 key areas to cover when writing an effective job description:
- Job title
- Who the role reports to
- Responsibilities and expectations
- Goals and objectives
- Opportunity for progression and promotion
- Required qualifications, education and training
- Soft skills and desirable traits
- Location and travel requirements
- Salary and benefits
- Company culture and identity
Remember that a good job description should work two ways. It should make great candidates feel good about applying for a job with your company, and it should be clear about the kind of person you’re looking for.
3. Post your job advert
If you restrict yourself to posting your brand new job advert in just one place, then you’re limiting your reach. The more places you post your job advert, the more chance you have of finding the perfect person. Of course, this can make it hard to track your incoming applications, and it can get a little bit messy.
To keep things in order, try to make sure all applications arrive in one central location. To maximise your chances of finding the best person for the role, here are a few key places to post your job advert:
- Your company website. If you don’t have a careers page, you might want to contemplate making one. If you already have one, here are three ideas to help you make it better.
- Social media. Post your vacancy details to social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is particularly good for this, as it is often used by people who are thinking about their next career move. If you’re well-connected, and if you write an appealing job description, then digital “word of mouth” via social media could dramatically increase your reach.
- Dedicated job websites. Job websites are designed especially to connect job seekers with employers. There are plenty of them out there. The main players in the UK market are probably Indeed, Monster and Reed.
- Classified ad boards. Although not dedicated to careers, many classified ad boards – both online and in print – include “job” categories where you can advertise your vacancy. Consider posting to places like Gumtree, Craigslist and FreeAds
- Government Jobcentre. You can advertise both online and in local Jobcentres by signing up to the Government’s Jobmatch service. This will help you to connect with people who are currently receiving government help to find a job.
If possible, aim to contact all applicants immediately after they apply, to acknowledge their application and to say thanks. You can normally automate this. In your response, you might want to tell them what to expect next – such as when they might hear from you. It will increase their confidence in you as an employer (as long as you follow through with whatever you promise).
4. Create a shortlist & arrange interviews
By now, you should have plenty of CVs waiting on your desk. Now it’s time for you and your selection committee to review applications, create a shortlist, and invite candidates for an interview.
To create your shortlist, you should give each applicant a score. This score should be based on how well they meet the criteria you set out in your job description. Candidates who do not meet criteria crucial to the role should obviously be removed from the equation.
It is important you do not discriminate during the recruitment process, and this includes the shortlisting. You should not remove candidates on the basis of any of the nine protected characteristics. This doesn’t mean you cannot eliminate candidates
The nine protected characteristics of discrimination are:
- Being, or becoming, a transsexual person
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Being pregnant or having a child
- Race, including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- Religion, belief of lack of religion/belief
- Sexual orientation
Candidates with the highest scores should be invited to an interview. How you perform interviews is largely down to you, but as a minimum, you’ll want to meet the candidates face-to-face where possible. Telephone screening can also be helpful.
5. Conduct interviews & review scores
You should think about the questions you’re going to ask in advance. Last minute scrambling could lead to a poor interview that doesn’t give you the information you need, and it could make you look like a bad employer.
For help on what kind of questions to include in an interview, read our article “10 important interview questions (and why you should ask them)”.
The initial interview should last between 30 and 40 minutes. Anything less might feel rushed, while anything more might be too time consuming – especially if you have a lot of interviews to perform.
If you need to go into greater detail with your ideal candidates, then don’t be afraid of planning two rounds of interviews. You can use the second to interview the top few people from the first round, and go into greater detail about the job role and responsibilities.
6. Make your preferred selection
Once you have your final shortlist, you and your selection committee should compare scores, and decide who best fits the role. This person will be your “preferred selection” – but be careful not to reject other candidates too soon, as you may need to go back to them at a later date.
It is important to make your preferred selection based on merit – i.e. how good you think the person will be at performing the role. It is easy to be biased towards a certain candidate, based on things like existing friendships within new team, or length of service with the company.
Naturally, how well a person gets along with their new team is an important consideration. But this doesn’t mean you need to put two friends together at the expense of hiring somebody who is not up to the role.
7. Check references
You should check your preferred selection’s references and qualifications before you contact them. This could save you from some very awkward situations! For example, imagine offering a person a key position… only to find that none of their previous employers feel comfortable providing a reference.
Of course, references don’t necessarily make or break a person’s abilities. But it still pays to check them out. If you’re noticing a common theme from all previous employers – such as refusal to comment on punctuality – then you might need to prepare yourself for an employee who is perpetually late for work.
When calling previous employers to get a reference, you should try not to keep them on the phone for more than five minutes. If the role is a very senior or business-critical role, you might want to make an exception. Otherwise, use the five-minute rule – it is a common courtesy, considering the previous employer is likely getting nothing out of the exchange.
8. Send a formal job offer
You’re nearly done now. But even though the candidate has expressed an interest in a role, it doesn’t make it a sealed deal yet. You still need to send out a formal job offer and await their acceptance.
Once your new employee accepts their position, remember to inform unsuccessful candidates as a matter of courtesy. It also helps to add them to your talent pool for future.
What if the candidate says no?
If your preferred candidate doesn’t accept your offer of employment, you can simply select the next best person on your list. If for whatever reason you do not find the right person, you might need to repeat this process. Make sure your job advert is being published in the right places to give you maximum reach.
Once a suitable person accepts your offer, make sure you notify everybody else who made it to the interview stage as a minimum. This isn’t a formal requirement, but it is good business etiquette. Candidates will appreciate your courtesy, and you will develop a better reputation as an employer.
Tie it all together with an applicant tracking system
If you are still handling the recruitment process manually, you might benefit from HR software that includes an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Your ATS will tie most of the above steps together, and will let you handle the whole process from start to finish.
If you are a customer with People®, you might already have access to our modern applicant tracking system. If not, you can explore this feature now.