12 steps to building a hiring system that will actually last

Last updated:
December 16, 2020
December 22, 2021
min read
Bev Campling
Table of contents

Whether you’re building a hiring system from scratch or optimizing your existing processes, you want to implement steps that will last. No one has the time to revisit their recruitment process every few months. Or maybe you still think that you don’t need a hiring system yet because your business is too small. Terrible move!

Disorganized hiring leads to bad hiring decisions. And bad hiring decisions are costly! Apart from the direct costs that are measurable in revenue, there are intangible losses that cannot be quantified. Loss of productivity within teams and departments, reputational damage, and dampened morale are difficult to measure, but your business will definitely feel the negative impact.

A recent study by CareerBuilder estimated the financial cost (which means straight out loss) of a bad hire to be anywhere from $7,000 to $40,000 depending on the level of the position. But peripheral and often extended losses are more challenging to identify.

No business can afford a bad hire, but small businesses are much more vulnerable because they have less experience in hiring staff and usually have more significant budget constraints.

Define your interview process steps

The idea of building a hiring system that will actually last is to create a reliable process framework that can be adapted to suit different roles and levels of seniority. Your generic framework must include all the vital steps that go into recruiting for a new position, with open spaces to be filled in by hiring teams as needed. Modern recruitment has to be agile and creative if you want to secure the best talent.

Every environment is different and so is each vacancy. Analyze your company’s needs and build your framework around that. Create a hiring process timeline and if you haven’t invested in an ATS yet, right now is the time do so. No business can expect to keep track of their hiring manually anymore because the landscape is ever-changing making an ATS an essential.

Automation frees up your time to focus on the essentials of hiring and data analytics gives you real-time information so that hiring teams can make informed decisions.

12 steps towards a  hiring system framework

Specific unavoidable steps in the hiring process must be included in your hiring system. These 12 are the most important:

  1. Identifying a new vacancy
  2. Planning your approach
  3. Writing a job description
  4. Advertising and promotion
  5. Search and recruitment
  6. Applicant screening
  7. Interview process
  8. Skills assessment
  9. References and verifications
  10. Making an offer
  11. Hiring
  12. Onboarding

1. Identifying a new vacancy

This is one of the most critical, but most overlooked steps in a hiring system. On the surface it seems easy; someone has resigned, or the team needs to expand. You need someone to fill the gap.

If you proceed based on the last job description you have on file, you could end up hiring the wrong person. Jobs evolve and skills required change.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Did you do an exit interview if it was a resignation?
  • Is there something inherent in the job description that resulted in the decision to leave?
  • Or did the job outgrow the person and that’s why they left?
  • Can the job responsibilities be incorporated into another position?

You need to ask all of these questions and discuss them as a hiring team so that you know what you need, and if you need the same type of candidate.

2. Planning your approach

Once you’ve identified the job requirements and the type of person you need to fill them, you must plan how you’re going to find that candidate. Start with internal requirements.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who needs to be on the hiring team?
  • Is the job already open?
  • If it is, do you need to hire a temp in the meantime?
  • What are the salary parameters and benefits?
  • Who will be the ultimate decision maker on the team? (It should be the hiring manager who makes the final call after consultation.)
  • What is the optimal time to hire and time to fill? Where and how are you most likely to find the best candidates?

The answers to these questions are the core of your hiring process timeline. This allows team members and line managers to plan and also eliminates time wasting like perusing candidates whose remuneration expectations exceed your budget.

3. Writing a job description

Only now is it time to write a comprehensive job description. Depending on the job, you can use a template, but it must be edited and brought in line with the current requirements of the job.

Your job description isn’t just a list of must-haves for applicants to go through. It’s the point of first contact most applicants will have with your employer brand. Must-haves are essential, but you also want to tell applicants more about your company, why they should apply and what they will gain by working for your company. Include a friendly customer-centric company bio, links of interest, a VR tour of the working environment and even video clips of happy employees sharing their employer brand love.

Here’s an eye-opener: 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36% of candidates say the same!

4. Advertising and promotion

Plan where you are going to advertise the position. This is where an ATS becomes invaluable because data will tell you what platforms deliver the best results for the type of vacancy. Remember, best results aren’t loads of applicants, but rather the platforms that provide candidates that you hire and who stay. You’re looking for the best ROI when it comes to advertising spend.

Ensure that all posts link back to your careers site and that your website not only very clearly reflects your employer brand but is also kept updated all the time. There’s nothing more off-putting than seeing vacancies posted months ago still on a careers page. Even if some jobs are ongoing, update them regularly.

5. Search and recruitment

In your initial planning, you might determine that the position has hard-to-find skills, so you’re unlikely to find the candidate you want on regular platforms. There are numerous approaches to this challenge: you can approach potential candidates directly, opt for specialized job boards, ask internal staff for referrals and mine your talent pools.

Candidates who know that their skills are in short supply aren’t hanging out on job boards, but most of them are open to exploring new opportunities. Estimates say that 70% of skilled workers are passive candidates who will hear you out if you have an excellent opportunity for them.

Plan your search efforts carefully and identify where you’ll find people with the skills you need. (This is the reasons why it’s essential for recruiters to join specialist online groups and network with industry professionals so that when you need someone, your reputation is already established.)

6. Applicant screening

Once you start receiving applications, you need to separate the strong candidates from the weaker applications and reject unsuitable applicants right away. Not getting back to people for an extended time doesn’t do your employer brand any service. Automation sorts that out for you, so there’s no excuse to leave anyone hanging.

Scheduling a phone screen interview is the best way to start. Explain the interview process thoroughly to each candidate on the short list so that they know what to expect. Put it down on email and also include the anticipated hiring process timeline. Also, explain at which stage candidates will be eliminated. Encourage shortlisted candidates to engage with you and make sure that you keep in regular contact.

7. Interview process

Before you set up interviews, reconfirm with all team members that they are available and plan accordingly. Once you’ve confirmed interview times and dates with candidates, you don’t want to be changing them. It doesn’t look good!

Send the candidate, and all team members an interview reminder 24 hours before the time and also confirm whether it’s a telephonic, video or face to face interview. This is not only a professional approach; it also improves the candidate experience.

Also before the interview, confirm any specific questions, particularly tough ones, that are to be asked by members of the hiring team. Ask all team members to compile their evaluation of each candidate directly after the interview while the details are still fresh in their memory.

8. Skills assessments

Not all positions require skills assessments, but if the vacancy does then get these arranged and completed shortly after the first interview. If skills are assessed, be sure to tell the candidate upfront so that you don’t waste time on chancers.

9. References and verifications

Unfortunately, candidates do lie on their CV’s, and many people can con their way through an interview because they’re very amiable and they know the hiring team trusts them. Skills assessment are one way to pick up dishonesty, but not all positions require them.

The best way to go is to take past employment references and verify qualifications through education and training institutions. According to a 2017 employment screening benchmark report from HireRight, a staggering 85% of employers found inconsistencies on candidate CV’s.

Definitely, don’t leave this step out of your hiring system! Also, if the position is very technical and specialized, it’s best to get the hiring manager who knows the intricacies of the requirements to take recent past employment references.

10. Making an offer

As you reach the final stages of your hiring system you likely only have two or three candidates left on your short list. This is the make or break stage, so it’s particularly important to keep in contact with candidates daily. Your job offer process should’ve been discussed and agreed to in the initial planning stages of your hiring system.

You know your salary parameters and the benefits, and you should’ve discussed these with the candidates beforehand. If you decide to offer the job to a candidate who seems touch and go for some reason, get the hiring manager to make the offer in a face to face meeting if possible rather than doing it through the recruiter.

The sooner the candidate’s concerns or objections are resolved, the higher the chance that they’ll accept the offer. A constant back and forth between the candidate, recruiter and hiring manager can result in the candidate backing out. You don’t have to lose your best candidate – be creative with your job offers!

11. Hiring

Once the candidate accepts the offer, spring into action immediately with the employment contract. Make sure that you keep in regular contact with the candidate and confirm that they have resigned and that their resignation has been accepted. (Counter offers are an unfortunate reality!)

Arrange for the candidate to sign the employment contract and also set up benefits like medical cover, pension benefits, etc. so that they feel comfortable with their decision to change jobs. The notice period is a perilous time for recruiters because a candidate can change their mind and there’s little you can do about it. If it happens organically take it as a lesson, but don’t be the reason for the change of heart.

12. Onboarding

As a recruiter, you have to be part of the hiring system right up to the day the candidate starts (and beyond). Prepare for the candidate’s arrival and make sure that the hiring manager has set up their work station. Decide who will welcome the candidate on arrival and take them on a meet and greet.

Keep your employee onboarding checklist handy and share it with all relevant parties to make sure that the new employee feels welcome and is put at ease as soon as possible.

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