1. Put together your hiring team
When it comes to hiring, it really does take a village. The best hires are made through collaborative hiring: when teams work together and pitch in. They help to create a great job post, making sure it reaches the right people and they help make 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 typically 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 six 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 three 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 hiring 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.