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hiring interview

How to Hire Employees

The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Updated: May 20, 2024

At the beginning of 2023, Monster.com reported that 96% of workers would be looking for a new job, and 2024 is looking no different. The most common reasons cited for an individual deciding to find a new job included desiring higher compensation, more career advancement/development opportunities, and removing themselves from a toxic work environment.

This underscores a major point: Many candidates enter the labor market to switch to better jobs. They want better opportunities and a company culture where they can contribute, grow, and ultimately thrive. Understanding these motivations gives you a great opportunity to attract and hire new talent.

Whether you need to hire your first employee or are increasing hiring this year as a small business owner, startup founder, or US-based small business, it’s important to implement practices that create a human-centered and inclusive hiring process that will yield great talent for your organization. Read on to learn how to attract and retain top talent this year and beyond.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees in 2024

  • A well-defined and positive employer brand can attract top talent that resonate with your mission, values, and needs
  • Prioritizing the candidate experience keeps job seekers engaged
  • Technology that utilizes AI and streamlines workflows improves your candidate experience and your hiring efficiency
  • Rushing the hiring process can result in making bad hiring decisions
  • When you don’t make a case for why you are a preferred place to work (competitive total rewards, healthy workplace culture, career advancement opportunities, etc.), it can cause you to miss out on top talent

Before the Job Opens

Before we dive into the time-tested steps I use to execute an effective hiring process, let’s examine a few factors that directly impact the quality of both your process and potential candidates. Often, employers neglect these foundational aspects of their people and growth strategy until they begin recruiting. However, focusing on and strengthening these elements in advance (and consistently over time) will make your hiring efforts that much more powerful.

“Attracting great talent should start well before the job opens.”

Before you start hiring, cultivate the following:

Employer brand

Your employer brand is the reputation your business has as an employer. The goal is to be viewed by employees (previous, current, and prospective) as a good place to work and build a career. Your brand is influenced by both real and perceived aspects of your company, including your mission, commitment to your employees, and workplace culture.

To understand the health of your employer brand, you can ask your employees questions like:

  • “What makes our company a great place to work?”
  • “Would you recommend us a good place to work to your family or friends, and why?”
  • “If you could change one thing about our (team, workplace culture, etc) what would it be, and why?”

Viewing published comments on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other sources can give you a good idea of what people are saying about your employer brand. You can also be proactive and share employee testimonials and “behind the scenes” of your team at work. It’s also great to regularly share what makes you an employer of choice via social media channels, company newsletters, the careers page of your website, and word of mouth.

Remote work options are also a great way to attract the right candidate. If you’re remote full-time or offer a remote-first work environment, definitely highlight that as part of your employer brand and share aspects of how your team members navigate it successfully during the talent acquisition process. This is something that many candidates are looking for in their next employer, and it can be a big selling point for many. If you’re not a fully remote or hybrid work environment, seriously consider what it will take (company philosophy, technology needs, team norms, and practices) to make it happen in your organization.

Total Rewards Package

It’s important to set your philosophy, strategy, and structure for your total rewards program (compensation + benefits + non-monetary perks) prior to hiring. This helps ensure pay equity and transparency in your organization and helps you understand how competitive your package is compared to the market and your industry.

Whether you are at the top, middle, or bottom of the scale, knowing helps you either leverage or mitigate it within your overall hiring strategy. If you’re concerned your company is too small to offer competitive benefits, consider a PEO (professional employer organization). These help you access great benefits at reasonable rates.

“In today’s job market, non-monetary perks and individualized/lifestyle benefits, like work-life balance, are just as important as the compensation and traditional benefits, which job seekers usually view as a bare minimum.”

A Healthy Workplace Culture

Nothing will make an employee leave quicker (or opt not to join your organization in the first place) than an unhealthy work culture. Many job seekers are trying to flee such environments, and savvy candidates know to look for signs of a healthy one during the hiring process.

Therefore, before you even start the hiring process, ensure your workplace culture is healthy and supports individuals, encouraging current employees to be themselves at the office. To do this, identify your company’s core values and practice them individually and as an organization. Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure a welcoming workplace that supports belonging, invites individuals to add to the robustness of your organization’s creativity and innovation, and attracts individuals whose passions and values align with your company’s mission and core values.

Then, be intentional about authentically showing off your workplace culture. Using the channels discussed under employer branding, like newsletters and social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc.), can prove that you have a good company culture. Ensure that you talk about, display, and have employees share their experiences of the workplace culture throughout your hiring process, as well.

Now it is Time to Hire

Having trouble attracting great people to your team? Does your hiring process take too long or feel ineffective? Do your recruitment strategies seem lacking? Chances are you haven’t pinned down how to hire employees for your small business.

Whether I’m coaching business owners as they hire their first employee or helping revamp hiring practices for mature small businesses, I opt for a 5-step hiring process (part of a larger Thriving Workplaces hiring process flowchart that I use with my clients). Time and time again, I’ve found that these steps help streamline the process, keep teams on schedule, and create a great experience for candidates. Let’s dig into the steps for hiring staff.

thriving workplaces hiring process

Thriving Workplaces 5-Step Hiring Process, a high-level overview hiring process flowchart.

Step 1 – Organize

Your hiring process will run a lot more smoothly when you get organized from the very beginning. Since the typical hiring process takes at least 4-6 weeks to complete (from job posting to accepted offer), I use a hiring timeline that outlines the key milestones and deliverables needed for a successful process. Some of the important milestones include:

  • Finalizing the job details (job description, total rewards package, start date, hiring team, etc.),
  • Posting the job on your website, social media channels, in your newsletter, selected job boards, and anywhere else online or in person your ideal candidate hangs out,
  • Screening and interview periods (usually 2-4 weeks, depending on how many rounds of interviews you will have and candidate availability),
  • Completion of pre-employment checks,
  • Presenting the offer letter, and
  • Preparing the onboarding process with a welcome gift and new hire forms and systems setup. If you are hiring your first new employee, use our payroll software guide to find and secure yours.

During Step 1, be sure to acquire the tech tools that will streamline your workflows. Several applicant tracking systems allow you to manage each step of your hiring process in a way that tracks where each candidate is within your process. They enable communication and collaboration within your hiring team and make staying in contact with candidates easy. All of this creates a great experience for your candidate—which directly impacts their impression of your employer brand.

Step 2 – Screen

As I mentioned above, there are a variety of human resource (HR) tech tools available to hiring teams to make screening candidates easier. Several job boards, like Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter, allow you to set filters to match screening criteria that can help you identify qualified candidates faster. Also, many applicant tracking systems leverage AI and machine learning (ML) to match your screening criteria with candidate experiences.

Technology is still evolving to ensure systems minimize bias in the algorithms and amongst your team by anonymizing candidate profiles, resumes, and tools to uncover non-traditional work experiences and transferable skills that align with your needs.

Step 3 – Interview

This step offers a great chance to get to know candidates, so don’t rush this step. As you interview, keep these tips in mind:

  • The best interviews are those approached as two-way conversations. Be respectful, present, and engaged.
  • Ask a variety of questions related to your mission, values, and the role itself. As the US Chamber of Commerce suggests, incorporating behavioral questions into your interviews is a great way to understand how the person performed in the past and their perspectives/approaches, which can be a good indicator of future performance. Even if an individual hasn’t had direct experience in something, these assessments will teach you about their transferable skills and lived experiences that align with the role, showing if they’re the best candidate
  • Train your team so they know what should and should not be discussed during the interview and how to assess a candidate against the needs of the role and your organization. Be sure to discuss unconscious bias and practices your business uses to ensure an equitable and inclusive interview process.
  • Ask all the candidates the same questions. There will be later opportunities to ask follow-up questions to learn more about the individual and their capabilities, experiences, etc.
  • Consider utilizing work sample tasks, a case study format, or a paid work trial for the final round(s) of interviews since it’s a great way to understand a person’s skill set, approach, and process. This method may not be ideal for every role, but it can be invaluable when integrated appropriately into your interview process. If you do ask for any unpaid sample work, be mindful of a candidate’s time and of any knowledge that is being shared. This is not an opportunity for free labor!

It is important to be intentional about the candidate experience by creating a meaningful process that is easy to navigate, isn’t time-consuming, and includes consistent and informative communication/touch points. A good candidate experience will leave individuals feeling valued and respected for what they brought to the process. Additionally, they should leave with a favorable impression of your company—even if it doesn’t result in a job offer.

“It is never easy to tell a candidate that they were not selected for a role. But one of the best things you can hear in these conversations is their positive impressions of the experience. That lets me know that my team and I did something right during the process.”

Ensure you explicitly discuss what is important to candidates during the interview process. This includes:

  • The company values
  • Growth potential and career pathway
  • Total rewards offerings
  • Team dynamics

Also, be prepared (and allow times) for candidate questions, known as the reverse interview, as there are many questions and concerns that candidates have as they consider their next employment opportunity.

Step 4 – Vet

Often, this step is overlooked or minimized. However, I’ve found that completing pre-employment checks to verify a candidate’s work experience and other aspects that support decision-making is essential. Reference checks, employment verifications, and background checks can all be helpful in successfully vetting your top candidate.

Although I complete reference checks myself or with internal HR staff, I always use a trusted vendor to complete our other pre-employment checks. Here are a few background check vendors we suggest partnering with to complete this step of the hiring process.

Step 5 – Offer

Now it is time to present your employment offer! Ensure you are using a template that has been reviewed by your legal counsel and is compliant with federal, state, and local employment laws. I generally present the details of the offer to the candidate verbally via phone or videoconference. If there are any negotiations or questions about the offer, we discuss them at that time. I then follow up with the official written offer that they have 3-5 days to review and accept.

This is a really exciting step and doesn’t need to be dry and formal. One of our top picks for ATS, Teamtailor, does an excellent job of making this step climatic and special for the candidate, creating a great employee experience from the start. They also streamline the sending and acceptance (or rejection) of the employment offer, making it as easy as clicking a button and affixing an electronic signature.

Rinse and Repeat

These five steps can be used over and over again every time you need to hire. It is a good idea after each hiring process to assess what worked and didn’t so you make changes as needed. Incorporate feedback from your team and candidates to continue to improve the process. Once your top candidate is hired and onboarded, you can also ask for them to share both the good and bad of their experience, which may yield ideas for improvement. Also, pay attention to industry trends and insights on what job seekers want to strengthen your hiring efforts.

“One way that I get feedback from candidates is by asking them, ‘What is something that stands out to you or that you’ve learned during the interview process?’”

The Bottom Line

If you are hiring candidates it is important to create or adapt your hiring practices that will allow you to stay competitive in 2024. Before you start hiring, ensure your employer brand is strong, stay competitive with your total rewards package, and nurture a healthy workplace culture. Then, when you get ready to hire, follow the five steps (organize, screen, interview, vet, offer) to execute an effective recruitment process that leaves candidates excited to join your team. As time goes on, continue to improve and strengthen your process to ensure you attract talent that’s a cultural fit, which ultimately improves retention.

Don’t forget to check out the resources mentioned in this article to make your hiring process effective and efficient for your hiring managers and candidates.