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Hiring Process: A complete guide
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Creating your first hiring process: A complete guide

A modern guide designed to save your team from the chaos and frustration of an unstructured hiring process.

What is a hiring process, really?

You might have a general idea of what a hiring process is, but you've likely discovered that it can get pretty complicated once you start planning it out. That's because a hiring process is actually two distinct things!

1. The things your company does consistently every time you hire. These are like your brand guidelines but then for hiring!

2. The specific steps and decisions you make from the moment you decide you need to hire someone new up until the onboarding of your new team member. This is your new hire workflow.

So what do we mean when we say, it's time to create your hiring process?

This means making it so that when it's time to hire someone new, you're not asking yourself "how do we do this again?"

It means loosely structuring the steps, going ahead and making decisions about how your company hires and writing it all down in a structured way.

✨ Structure✨ – it's the secret sauce of hiring.

Bringing in this structure really comes down to creating two simple documents that will be the backbone of your hiring process.

And don't sweat it, you don't need to be a recruitment pro to be able to do this. We've spent a lot of time thinking about hiring processes at Homerun and we've come to realize that anyone can hire well with the right guidance. Guide-ance. Get it? It's a guide.

In this guide we'll dive deep into these two magical documents, how to use them and how to make your own. We'll also get into the nitty-gritty of your new hire workflow.

Employer Branding
Hiring process: A complete guide
Why

Why your team will benefit from creating a hiring process

Hiring without a hiring process is like playing slots. You might get lucky from time to time with a great new hire, but replicating it is impossible.
Creating a hiring process makes sense for so many reasons, including:

  • It's a huge timesaver for you and your team: Having a hiring process in place means that your team is spending time on the right things like thoughtfully evaluating candidates instead of figuring out how to hire from scratch.
  • Avoiding bias becomes easier: The more structured your hiring process is, the less you have to rely on your gut feel, the less bias creeps in (essential for D&I!). Because unfortunately, our guts can be biased.
  • Candidates get a consistent (and pleasant) experience: Without a hiring process you hire differently every time. Some candidates will have a good experience and some bad. Some structure will make it consistently good.
  • Anyone can reliably takeover as hiring manager: You can go on vacation and rest assured that whoever you leave in charge of the hiring process knows what to do because you've got the guidelines in place.
  • Iteration is easy: You have a place to record what you've learned so that you can do things differently (better) the next time you hire. This way you and your team are a lot less likely to make the same mistakes twice.
  • Most importantly, it helps to avoid mis-hires: A mis-hire is when a new hire turns out to be a bad match. This can be frustrating and demoralizing for your team. With a hiring process this is a lot less likely to happen.

So basically, creating a hiring process just makes sense as your company grows and more and more people in your team are involved in hiring. Let's get into how to go about it.

What

The two documents that are the backbone of your hiring process

To make your hiring process actionable for your team, you simply have to create two simple documents. Your "How we hire" guidelines and your job brief.

Image of hiring process outline.
1

Your "How We Hire" guidelines

What it's for

This document covers your overarching hiring process – the parts of your hiring process that should be consistent every time anyone in your team hires. Like your brand guidelines but then for hiring!

This is the go-to place for your team to find information about how your company hires. This document is especially useful when it's someone's first time hiring or if they need a little refresher on how things are done.

What's in it?

  • General guidelines for each step of the hiring process - for example how we create job posts, how we do interviews, how we make offers, etc.
  • Templates for each step of the hiring process - like a job description template, email templates for rejecting candidates, an offer letter template, etc.
  • A list of roles that you typically include in a hiring team - so that it's clear who to involve from the beginning of a hiring process
  • The hiring stages that are typically used in a hiring process - The amount of interviews and assignments you typically do
  • Tips and tricks for how to do each step well - this could include links to articles that you've found to be great resources
  • A list of tools you use throughout the hiring process and how they work - stuff like specific video call tools you use for remote interviews, or a hiring tool like Homerun to organize your hiring.

How to create it

You create this document one time and tweak and update it continuously. It's best to create this document as you go through the hiring process the next time you hire. So no need to prepare everything ahead of time. Instead, create as you go! This way you have the relevant context to make tough decisions about what aspects of hiring you want to standardize. It doesn't get more efficient than that!

Keep it simple to start. Don't go overboard with lists and lists of guidelines and tips. This could be overwhelming for your team who just need to be pointed in the right direction. Make it clear, organized and easy to find. So make sure it's in a logical place. It could be a Slite page, Google doc, Notion page....whatever your team is used to.

How we hire guidelines

How we hire

How we write job descriptions

How we conduct interviews

How we review candidates

2

Your job brief

What's it for?

This is the document you set up at the beginning of every new hire workflow. You (re)create it every time you decide to hire a new role together with your hiring team.

It's for your entire hiring team to reference as they do their part for a specific hiring round. For example, an interviewer can find the list of skills and traits they'll need to evaluate candidates on.

What's in it?

  • About the job: These are the responsibilities the person in this role will have. This can include short-term objectives and long-term objectives. Don't worry, this doesn't have to be extremely well-written. It's just about making sure the info is there.
  • Job title: Based on research, come up with the right job title for the role.
  • About the candidate: A list of the traits, skills and experience that will make a candidate successful in the role. You can include both essential skills and nice-to-haves here.
  • What you can offer: This includes a salary range, monetary perks as well as non-monetary perks like flexible working hours and team off-sites.
  • Your hiring budget: You'll want to carve out a budget for the promotion of your job post, depending on what role you're hiring.
  • The steps for the hiring workflow: Come up with the ways you'll test candidates for the traits and skills you've listed. What will you ask in the application, in the interviews, and assignments? How many interviews and assignment will there be? This is basically the steps of the new hire work flow which we'll get into more deeply in the next chapter!

How to create it?

Set up a template of this document that can be copied and filled in each time you want to hire someone new. That way you can create something that works best for your team and you don't have to reference this guide each time you hire (not that we mind). In the next chapter we dive deeper into when and how to fill in this document.

Job brief

Senior Designer

About the job

What we can offer

Interviews & assignments

How

Steps of a new hire workflow

Now that we've handled all the meta stuff related to your hiring process, let's get into the concrete steps that a hiring workflow per new hire entails. We'll explain each step and provide best practices so that you will have a running start when you create your hiring process.

1. Put together your hiring team

When it comes to hiring, it really does take a village. The best hires are made when teams work together and pitch in to help with creating a great job post, making sure it reaches the right people and making tough hiring decisions.

What a hiring team could look like:

  • Hiring manager: This is often the person who will be the manager of the new hire. It could for example, be your tech lead who is hiring an engineer. They are typically the one responsible for most of the evaluation and making the final decision about who to hire.

    Do make sure there is only one decision-maker in your hiring team who takes everyone's input into account to make a final decision. This will help to avoid unproductive discussions and confusion about who has the final say.
  • Owner of the hiring process: This person makes sure the hiring goes smoothly according to the hiring process. Depending on the company this could be an HR person, People Ops Manager, Office Manager or even the Founder. Sometimes they are also the point of contact for candidates, scheduling their interviews and sending rejections. Towards the end of the hiring round, they'll typically do any admin necessary to hire your new team member.
  • Team members: Make sure to include one or more team members who will work closely with the new hire. Their input is extremely valuable since they know what kind of work needs to be done and what sort of gaps exist in the team. They'll typcially join in on one or more interviews with the candidates.
  • Founders or CEO: For some of the more crucial roles the company's founder or CEO can play a big role in evaluating a candidate's skills as well as value fit. It's their job to decide whether a candidate's skill set and previous experience align with what the business needs.
  • Copywriter: If you have a copywriter in the team, have them write or edit the job description to make sure it's on brand and sparks the interest of candidates. If you don't have a copywriter, you probably have that one colleague that has a way with words. Ask them to do their word magic on your job description. It'll make all the difference.
  • Designer: Same goes for a brand designer who can make sure your job post follows the brand guidelines and really catches the eye of candidates. Visually standing out is such an easy win since 99% of all job posts still look like and read like electric toothbrush manuals.
  • External recruiters: For some roles that are very hard to fill (like senior developer roles) you might want to involve an external freelance recruiter who has specific industry knowledge and a network to help you find great candidates.

This is an example of a pretty big hiring team. This can be useful for important roles, but you can definitely swing it with a smaller team if you need to. A hiring manager plus one other team member could do the trick! But keep in mind the more who weigh in, the easier it'll be to decide if a candidate is a great match for your team.

On a side note, be sure to keep your hiring team in the loop throughout the hiring process. Do this by treating hiring like any other project at your company so that there's clarity about roles and time commitment.

So if projects usually involve kickoffs, stand-ups and retrospectives then do those for each new job opening too. Making it a project with allocated time and a clear beginning and end will allow your team to take it as seriously as they would any other project. Have a look here for more clever ways to get your team involved in the hiring process.

2. Create the job brief

So here you're going to fill in your job brief template for the specific role you're hiring. Filling in this doc is all about figuring out what exactly the role is that you're trying to fill, who you're looking for, how you're going to find them and how you'll evaluate them.

So sit down with a couple of people in your hiring team and hash out the details we've listed in chapter two! In case you didn't feel like scrolling up (what a pain) here's a link to the job brief template and an example of a filled-in job brief to get you started.

Spending some time on this will save you heaps of time down the road and ensure that everyone is aligned on the role before you get too far in the process. It's a pain to realize halfway through the interview round that your colleague is looking for a different skill set in a candidate than you are.

Another thing you want to avoid is getting applicants that don't fit what you're looking for because your job description isn't clear enough. Avoid this by gathering job posts from aspirational companies to see how they're describing similar roles. Make sure you have a good understanding of what roles like this generally entail and check if the job title you have in mind is industry standard.

Look out! 🚨 This document is not the job description that you include in your job post. A job brief is an internal document that provides input you need to create your job post.

Often companies publish job posts that read like internal documents – lot's of jargon and not at all riveting to read. We've all seen them. This happens when a step is skipped between making this doc and publishing the job post.

Well, this seems like a good moment to get into job posts!

3. Create your job post

Your job posts need to be clear and informative while sparking the interest of talent. And not just any talent, but qualified, enthusiastic and ideally diverse talent. This isn't easy, especially since candidates on average spend less than 6 seconds looking at a job post. This means that a generic list of bullet points added to a pdf you upload to your website just won't cut it.

Keep in mind that if you're hiring a role that's hard to fill, you're going to need to really work at making this job post stand out from the crowd. We've got some tips on how to do that!

Best practices for creating your job post:

  • The job description: Hand over your job brief to your copywriter (if you have one) so they can do their word magic to write a job description that really makes clear what it's like to have this role at your company.

    Include these 3 sections:

    1. About the company: A short description of your company. Hit the high points! The company mission, the values, what the culture is like and most importantly why candidates should be excited to work at your company.

    2. About the job: Here you describe the role. You might be tempted to break out those trusted bullet points here. Instead, tell a story – a story about the impact the person in this role will have on the success of the company and its mission.

    3. About you: These are the requirements or "About the candidate" section you added to your job brief. But it's best to address the candidate directly so call it "About you". Include a mix of hard skills, soft skills and required knowledge. Only include the must-haves and leave out nice-to-haves for a gender-balanced pipeline and the highest amount of quality applications.

    Not to overwhelm you with a thousand tips and tricks, but we've got a whole other guide about how to write a job description. It also includes job description templates if you don't feel like reinventing the wheel.
  • Beyond the words: When putting together your job post, be sure to show what it's like working at your company. Keep in mind that for many people choosing to apply somewhere is also an emotional choice. The impression they get about the culture of your company is what's going to win them over.

    So get creative and add some fun authentic photos of the team and your office. Add a Spotify playlist of music your team likes. Add a video of a team member describing the role. Do your best to describe the culture of the company beyond overused cliches. You can hit the ground running by using our well-designed job post templates that you can customize and publish in minutes.
  • Application: Decide how you want candidates to apply and think of what information you need to get out of an application. We suggest using a Homerun apply form so you have complete control over the information that candidates give you. No need to parse through unstructured motivation letters and CVs.

    An application form also makes applying a much smoother experience for candidates. Keep in mind that the harder it is to fill a role, the easier you want to make the application. You could even consider having a hiring process without CVs. Then you can use the interview rounds for finding out about your candidate's experience. The priority is getting them to apply.

4. Reach talent

Merely posting your job online is usually not enough to attract talent especially if your company hasn't made a name for itself yet.

There are four ways you can go about reaching candidates:

  • Sharing your job post: This is about making use of the free channels your company has available like social media and your network. Your team can play a huge role here! Enlist them to spread the word on their social media and in their network. Recommendations like these can go a long way to reach candidates.
  • Beyond the words: When putting together your job post, be sure to show what it's like working at your company. Keep in mind that for many people choosing to apply somewhere is also an emotional choice. The impression they get about the culture of your company is what's going to win them over. So get creative and add some fun authentic photos of the team and your office. Add a Spotify playlist of music your team likes. Add a video of a team member describing the role. Do your best to describe the culture of the company beyond overused cliches. You can hit the ground running by using our well-designed job post templates that you can customize and publish in minutes.
  • Promoting your job post: When you're struggling to fill a role it can be really helpful to lay down money to promote your job post. This way you can reach passive job seekers (with social media advertising and google display ads) as well as active job seekers (by promoting on career platforms and niche job boards). Reference your job brief to see how much you've set aside to promote this job post.
  • Sourcing candidates: This means looking for candidates yourself and asking them to apply. This is useful when hiring a hard-to-fill role. We know sending cold messages on LinkedIn has a bad rap, but that has more to do with how it's done than the fact that it's done. If you find people who meet your requirements and you send them an authentic, personal and honest message that's tailored to them specifically, then you won't come off as irritating.
  • Work with a recruiter: If you’re hiring for a senior role, consider working with an external recruiter. They get a bad rap, but there are actually really good recruiters out there (not the ones sending you LinkedIn messages about an AMAZING opportunity they have for you). Good recruiters with industry knowledge know how to find candidates that fit what you're looking for. This is especially useful when you're hiring roles that you don't know a lot about.

For more on how to go about these four ways of reaching talent, have a look a our Attracting Talent Guide (we have a guide for almost everything).

5. Review candidates

When applications come rolling in, it's time to decide which candidates to move forward with. The evaluating of candidates begins.

This is something you'll be doing throughout your hiring process. With each new applications and each new round of interviews, you have tough decisions to make.

That's why in this section we'll talk about the best practices of evaluating candidates that you can use throughout the rest of the hiring process not just the application phase.

Best practices for reviewing candidates:

  • Avoid groupthink by taking time to form your own opinion: Do this by agreeing not to share opinions about candidates with colleagues too early. Document your own evaluation before allowing it to be influenced by others in your team.
  • Evaluate your candidate in multiple contexts: This is a great way to avoid first-impression error. This is when you let your first impression of a candidate – good or bad – affect your feedback or decision. This is why you want to make sure you're giving candidates the chance to give you a second, a third, or more impressions by providing different kinds of questions in your application form, interviews and assignments.
  • Argumentation is your friend: Back up your opinion with rational arguments when discussing candidates and their qualities with your team. Not only will this make you sure about your own thoughts, but it will help convince your colleagues too. If you or team member can't back up a judgment with something the candidate did or said, then it shouldn't count or even be shared at all. There is something to be said for following your instinct that's telling you a candidate feels right. Just practice awareness and ask yourself if that instinct is coming from the right place and not a biased place.
  • Anonymizing applications: This is a straight-forward way to avoid bias. It's incredibly necessary since research shows that people with white-sounding names are far more likely to be invited to interviews than others. Anonymizing applications is a way to combat this.
  • Challenge your preferences: Challenge yourself and your team to take a critical look at the candidates you're enthusiastic about. How diverse is this group? Do you have a lot in common with them? Are there candidates you're not sure about that you could give the benefit of the doubt anyway? These are questions you should ask yourself, especially if it's your goal to become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive team.
  • Use score cards when evaluating interviews: Create score cards with a predetermined list of traits and skills that you can rate individually. This helps to structure your thoughts and base your judgements on what the candidate said and did. Speaking of interviews, let's get into the next step.

6. Interview & assignment rounds

By the time you get to the interview round, the hiring process is really heating up, and you’re getting close to finding the person you need. But you still can’t rush this part. So, prepare to spend some time here.

The number of interviews and assignments all depends on the type of role you're hiring. The more important the role, the more extensive this part of your hiring process will need to be in order to get the info you need to make the right decision.

Keep in mind that this step is about letting candidates get to know your company just as much as the other way around. See it as a dating process in which you really want to show candidates what it's like to work at your company and win them over to start a serious relationship with you.

Here is what a typical interview & assignment round looks like:

  • Phone screening: This is a short 15-minute call to make sure expectations for the role are aligned (on both sides). Therefore the most important question to ask candidates here is: What are you expecting from this role? Then let them know what the role entails in greater detail than in your job post. Also, tell them about the company, its history, mission and current situation. Lastly, check if you're on the same page about salary. If their preferred salary is way out of your range then don't invite them for the next interview. If you do both seem to be enthusiastic about what's been discussed then invite them to the next interview.
  • Interview on skills: Take about one hour to interview your candidate on their past work, previous experience, their strengths and what they'd like to learn. Prepare questions based on the traits and skills you listed in your job briefing and use a scorecard to evaluate them. Leave room for questions from the candidate. And don't forget to show the candidate why your company is a great place to work. Show them the office (if you're not remote) and introduce them to more of your team.
  • Assignment: Assignments are a great way to see what a candidate can do. Come up with a simple assignment that comes close to what they would do on a regular day in the role. Put a time cap on an assignment so that candidates don't go overboard working into the night. Assignments should not be too extensive because it's asking a lot of candidates. And potentially it might not pay off for them if they're rejected (we've all been there right?). You could even consider paying candidates a freelancer fee for larger assignments to show you respect their time and expertise.
  • Interview on values: If you're sure about the candidate's skill-set have someone else in your team conduct this interview for a last check on if they are a value fit for the company. Here you ask what drives the candidate, what's important to them, how they think about team work and what they value in work and life. All of this is to find out if their values fit the company values. Be sure to explain what the company values mean for everyday work life so they can judge if it's it a fit for them too.

7. Make an offer

At this point, you've got everything you need to make the final decision and make one of your candidate's an offer!

A streamlined offer stage is crucial. There's still a potential for drop-off, especially since candidates that are high in demand often have multiple offers on their table. So moving quickly is essential.

Luckily you've set up an offer letter template in your "How we hire" doc and you've determined the budget for this role all the way at the beginning of your hiring process! So reference your job brief for this role and send out that offer letter!

Remember that salary isn't everything. Many people care deeply about work/life balance, time-off and family-friendly policies. So include more than just the salary but also perks and benefits.

8. Round out the hiring process

Congrats! You've made it to the end of the new hire workflow. You attracted the talent, weeded out the people who weren’t quite right, and if your offer is accepted then you've found a great new team member! Now it’s time to close the loop. At this point, you will need to:

  • Do some paperwork: Make sure that you and the candidate both sign the offer letter. Then you can start drafting the employment contract.
  • Close the job: When all is done, you close the job post and you notify any candidates that are still in the pipeline that they didn't make it with a personal email or phone call.
  • Follow up: Maybe some people helped you find your new hire. It's kind and thoughtful to go back and thank the people who referred your job post to their friends or contributed in some way to finding this new team member.
  • Evaluate your process: Plan one last meeting with your hiring team and evaluate the hiring process. Go over what went well, what didn't and what you'd like to do differently next time. And then pen in some time to update your beautiful "How we hire" document based on what came out of this meeting.
  • Celebrate! You did it! You've found a new team member and that's a big accomplishment. Take a moment with your team to acknowledge that.

Hiring
templates

That's it! To help you hit the ground running when setting up your first hiring process, we've got some nifty templates and examples.

Customize, tweak or switch them up completely to fit your company's hiring process!

How we hire guidelines

How we hire

How we write job descriptions

How we conduct interviews

How we review candidates

Job brief

Senior developer

About the job

What we offer

Interviews & assignments

Download this guide

No time to read it all at once? Read our hiring process guide in your own time, at your own pace.