This session was presented on March 16, 2023
Finding and attracting the best talent is key to building a successful business. In this session, we’ll dig into the basics of what you need to do before starting the hiring process, the best ways to attract talent, and things to be aware of during an interview. We’ll also cover specific interview questions to ask and review which questions to avoid. Walk away with ideas to identify and hire the right people for your organization so you can be an employer of choice in your industry.
Marisa: Welcome everyone, and thank you for joining me today. I am so excited to welcome you to our webinar on Recruiting & Hiring Great Employees. Before I jump in, I just want to introduce myself. My name is Marisa and I joined the team here after working in a variety of HR areas including payroll, staffing, on and off boarding. I’ve worked at both national and local companies and in a really wide range of businesses [00:00:30] and industries. I earned my bachelor’s in business administration and communications from the University of Oregon. In my free time I really love watching sports and volunteering, spending time with my three dogs and my husband, trying new restaurants. Let’s go ahead and get started and talk about recruiting and hiring.
First we’ll start with some quick housekeeping items. We’re going to email you the recording of this presentation and the slides within 24-ish [00:01:00] hours. I will also hold a couple of polls later on in the presentation here, so I hope you’ll participate. Stay tuned for that. And finally, please use the Q&A box for questions and I’ll answer as many as I can during the presentation as well as during the Q&A session at the end. So if you don’t hear something as I’m talking, please feel free to get that question in or you can wait till the end. All right, so [00:01:30] before I even turn to the agenda, I want to break down what we mean when we say recruiting and hiring.
It can include a wide variety of things, from talking to a recruiter who’s going to be doing a nationwide search for a specific position in your company to contacting a staffing agency, to updating and posting job descriptions in one or 20 places, to screening applications, interviews, to go on and on. But ultimately recruiting is going to look somewhat different depending on a variety of factors, including your industry, [00:02:00] the size of your organization, the talent pool you’re pulling from, how many positions you’re hiring for and the training provided and the level of employee. Things look different for a C-suite executive than an entry level employee. Also hiring for a physician is going to look very different than hiring for a seasonal ski resort employee in terms of getting placed versus hiring.
And even the word hiring can mean different things to different people. So in this session I’m going to be talking about selection and [00:02:30] the I need to go hire someone piece of the puzzle. I’m not going to get into onboarding and what to do after the offer of employment has been extended. That could be a whole different topic and webinar. And then a final note is going to be that I really think of recruiting and hiring as a soft science. For the most part we aren’t talking about compliance, but about business practices and what works best. What I want to do today is chat about the basics of the recruiting and hiring process, maybe with tips for how to think about implementing or changing [00:03:00] your process for a more successful experience.
I’ve worked in a staffing agency, I’ve also worked in the medical industry and retail, I’ve seen a wide range of what recruiting and hiring can look like, and sadly I just can’t cover everything today. But we’re going to take a look here at what is in store for the next 50 minutes and I’m going to try and touch on as much as I can. Okay, so the agenda. First we’re going to talk about how to prepare for the undertaking of searching for a [00:03:30] new employee, the pre-recruiting piece. Then we’re going to move on to recruiting itself. What can this entail? Who are we looking for? What are the best practices to begin the process to even find applicants? We’re going to discuss attracting talent and applicant tracking and best practices for that. And we’ll discuss screening applicants and applications as well as interview prep and focus on the actual interview. And then finally, we’re going [00:04:00] to touch on following up and some best practices.
I’m going to leave a few minutes at the end, like I said, for any other questions you might have. Now before we really dive into today’s presentation, in my experience working with clients, recruiting is really often, it’s overlooked. I receive questions so often about a newly hired employee that isn’t performing well, typically someone that’s maybe in their first month of employment or even just their first couple of weeks and the client wants to discuss discipline or even termination [00:04:30] for that individual. And there are a lot of possible reasons that the underperformance might be occurring, but every time I have this discussion, I do always end up making a really impassioned appeal to the client to review their hiring practices. Could they have hired a little better? Did they set clear job expectations during the interview and in the job description? Were they fully aware of the employee’s skillset? Did they provide the best training they were able to provide?
[00:05:00] Nobody gets hiring right every time. I have certainly had my fair share of bad hires, but I do truly believe dedicating time to recruit and hire properly is going to absolutely benefit the company. It’s going to reduce turnover and increase productivity and reduce the struggle with an underperforming employee who hasn’t even been with you that long. So now the really good news is that this is all likely, at least part of the reason you’re here today, right? You want to learn more about recruiting or better your own processes. So I’m probably preaching [00:05:30] to the choir. So let’s move on. So as I mentioned, I’ve done a bit of recruiting in my career and believe me I understand it can be daunting to find the right person, especially if it’s a brand new position you’ve never filled before. In which case you may be wondering, I don’t even know what I’m looking for. How do I know?
And if you’re replacing a valuable long-term employee had a really specialized role or a lot of institutional knowledge, you might be wondering how you can possibly [00:06:00] find someone that’s going to replace that specific skillset and value. So let’s begin with the absolute first tasks that you should start thinking about once you know there is going to be a need to hire a new employee. Okay. So you’ll want to start by focusing on your employer brand. Really, what’s that? So ultimately your brand is synonymous with your company culture. Think of it like the personality of your company. This is the environment in which employees [00:06:30] work. It includes a variety of elements such as your company’s policies, internal practices, the work environment. It also encompasses the company’s mission, values, ethics, expectations, how employees relate to one another.
A company culture and therefore your brand is ingrained in the company. Each employee that’s hired is thought to be a good match and a contributor to the existing culture and brings strength to the company’s vision and goals. [00:07:00] So your brand is the way people outside of your organization perceive you and your employer brand is the way those who work for the company perceive you. Next you’re going to want to think about your talent pipeline. I receive questions regularly from clients about internal candidates. And while qualified internal candidates oftentimes do receive hiring preference regardless of their internal status, [00:07:30] my recommendation is that these candidates go through the general process for interviewing. Now, maybe you don’t need to collect a resume or an application, but you’ll want to at least interview them and go through the process that you’re going through when you’re talking and asking questions with outside candidates.
Keep in mind that while they may be perfect for the role they’re in now, we don’t know if they’re perfect for the role they applied for. Assessing the question is what the interview process is all about. That’s the process that will help [00:08:00] you ascertain whether the internal candidate is in fact the right fit for the role. I always recommend making consistency a priority with any internal policies or practices regarding job openings. For example, some companies have a policy that says all job postings are going to be made internally prior to anywhere outside the organization. Some companies even specify a specific period of time for this. Maybe saying that the position will be posted internally for one week and then externally. And if you have anything like this, you just want to make sure you [00:08:30] follow through on what you’ve promised.
Another consideration for internal candidates are those that you don’t feel are qualified or capable of the position. Maybe someone’s gone out for the job and it’s a step or two more than you think they’re ready for right now, I still recommend an interview with those candidates for a few reasons. First, even if they’re not the exact right fit for the position and aren’t chosen, it really helps with employee retention because it shows you do have an interest in the employee’s career and their interests in growing. [00:09:00] Plus you also have another bonus in that it gives managers the opportunity to really help develop candidates for future roles that they’re interested in. For example, if you have an employee who expresses interest in a role and their manager had no idea they were even interested, now you know and can work on helping them develop the skills for that position in the future. Essentially it gives you a pipeline of internal candidates.
Now speaking of pipelines, I do recommend adding some sort of capture field [00:09:30] on your website if it’s possible to create what I refer to as your talent pipeline. And essentially it’s going to be useful when a candidate is on the website searching for a job opening that suits their skills or interest because they’re super interested in your company and you want to collect their information right then. You want to make sure that even if you don’t have a job opening for them just yet, you’re not relying on candidates to just happen upon your website when a position just happens to be open and you’re [00:10:00] collecting their information when they’re interested and then blasting an email to them once a position’s available. Candidates often want to submit resumes even when there isn’t a position open, and this way I don’t end up keeping an endless file full of resumes that I don’t even have positions for.
So another thing you’ll want to make sure of is that you’re doing an ongoing process of simply getting out there. Make sure you have a network, talk to your friends or colleagues that work in similar industries. Make sure everyone knows why you think your company is a fabulous place [00:10:30] to work. And in my experience, some of the best employees I’ve ever had just started our application process as a referral from a current employee or even a former employee. It’s important to be in recruiting mode even when you don’t have positions actively open and it’s going to help build that pipeline and lessen the work during the formal recruiting process. And then one last consideration here is an employee referral program, which I just kind of mentioned.
These can be really useful to recruit new talent [00:11:00] and who better to do that than those who are already working for you, right? They know how great your company is, they know exactly what the job entails, and oftentimes there’s a small incentive when a referral is hired or after the new employee successfully completes 30 or 90 days of work as a thank you for helping to recruit for the company. Okay, so now you have a vacancy, you need to fill it. What do you do? Well, let’s talk about [00:11:30] an HR tool that we call a needs assessment. Now, even though it may sound like it, this is not a scary process and I’m just going to give you a high level overview of how this can be so helpful. And you can use the considerations from the slide to help start your assessment. When using this for an open position, some additional important details you’ll want to ask yourself might be, where are we now? Meaning what is the position right now? Is it new? Is it due to a vacancy? And also, what responsibilities does the [00:12:00] position currently include?
You also want to ask yourself, where do we need to be? Meaning what job duties and responsibilities should the position include? And what should this employee be tasked with? And then the most important piece is connecting those. How do we get there? You want to assess the gap between those two previous questions, update the position description, and then you can proceed with recruiting and know that you’re actually looking for the right things. I rely heavily on a factual assessment like this [00:12:30] to determine the best way to proceed. And I think it’s best to be knowledgeable of this information and have it all in order before you begin the hunt for the perfect candidate. Because if you don’t even know exactly what the perfect candidate is, how can you know when you’ve found them? Of course, nothing is set in stone and this is likely to evolve as you proceed, but I do prefer to have these details in mind as a roadmap for recruitment.
Now, another tip is that if you’re replacing an employee, work with the outgoing employee to determine what institutional knowledge [00:13:00] they’re taking with them and anything that wasn’t written down that’s critical to maintain success in the role. Now I’ve even had departing employees review their own job descriptions for accuracy with their day-to-day tasks before the last day, and that’s really helpful. Next, it’s important to take a factual look at what can be trained versus what you need the new employee to come to employment with. So what skills, knowledge and experience do they need to bring in with them and what are the minimums and then what’s absolutely required? [00:13:30] And then what are you prepared to train and support them in learning?
Lastly, hire for your and your team’s weaknesses. Managers and supervisors are not tasked with being the very best at every responsibility for every member of their team, or at least they shouldn’t be. Their role is to manage that team and to focus on the big picture and make sure that all of those folks on their team are empowered and enabled to do those things the very best. So to grow the best and most well-rounded team [00:14:00] possible, you want to hire for the weakness, and this assessment’s a really great time to identify that. So to begin, a job description is critical. I can’t emphasize this enough, it is critical for every person, new and old in every position. I rely on these all the time and for so many things, not just the recruiting and hiring process.
Now, what better time to review existing job descriptions [00:14:30] or create new ones than to do that during the recruiting process? The job description should be in place before you meet with your first candidate. Think of this as that roadmap for the position. What knowledge, skills, and abilities the ideal candidate needs to bring to the table? What are preferences versus what are required? The recruiting process is going to rely heavily on this document, and so you definitely need to spend time here. It’s important to keep in mind that all positions [00:15:00] and roles are living and evolving. So again, we always want to begin by reviewing and adjusting the current job description for today’s tasks. I really do suggest doing this every time a position is open and even as part of that annual or semi-annual performance review process with your current employees. That way if somebody does leave and you’re not able to go through that with them before they depart, you’ve already at least done it somewhat recently.
I also recommend including [00:15:30] the essential functions of the job on this document, and this list should really be around like 10, maybe 15 items. Too many, we’re overusing the word essential. Too few, and we’re going to rely a bit too heavily on that other duties as assigned catch-all that all of us in HR do love. And while it can be tempting to list each duty, responsibility, desired quality, doing so is really going to run the risk of turning your job description into a procedures manual. [00:16:00] When listing job functions, just make sure you cover the things the employee will be doing day in and day out. And then I just mentioned that favorite catch-all, other duties as assigned. I do strongly recommend that you end each essential functions list with that item. And to be blunt, it does help to avoid the, well, that’s not my job conversation, right?
There are times when an employee, regardless of their job title, might need to help tidy a conference room or [00:16:30] take out the garbage or help out in another department. I promise you as an HR professional I have worked as a receptionist, a salesperson, a custodian, and you better believe none of these functions were explicitly listed on my job description at the time. The job description should also definitely include the physical requirements of the job, an equal employment opportunity statement, and an American with Disabilities Act or ADA compliance statement. So an EEOC statement is going to demonstrate to [00:17:00] prospective clients and the EEOC that the company really does take equal employment opportunities seriously and that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. The ADA statement is going to prove helpful in the event that an employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the physical requirements of the job are also useful if asked for a reasonable accommodation or even in the event of a worker’s comp claim.
[00:17:30] Okay, so let’s talk about compensation. This is a hot topic lately. I’m going to do a very high level piece here. There are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of very state specific things happening in this area, so I’ll try and address any questions you have, but some of them may be too specific me to answer in a webinar format. All right, let’s talk about it. Before you post the position, you’ll want to review the pay range and analyze how it [00:18:00] compares to others in your market. I think it’s best to determine if you’re going to lead the market, match the market or lag the market. And essentially what that means is are you going to pay more than your competitors? Are you going to pay about the same or are you in a position where you’re not able to pay the average of what your competitors are paying?
Now, all of these compensation philosophies are absolutely fine and valid. I’ve seen them all out there and I’ve seen them all be successful. Not every company can have the highest salaries [00:18:30] and I’m not suggesting that you need to do that in order to get the best candidates. You can still get great candidates if you match or even have to lag the market. I recommend assessing budgetary guidelines, your geographic location, similar industries and similar positions as you determine your pay philosophy. You’ll also need to be aware of any pay equity and pay transparency laws that apply in your state or even locally. And then keep in mind that a company looking for [00:19:00] an accounting manager in St. Cloud, Minnesota is likely going to have a really different pay range to offer than a company located in San Francisco. And that’s perfectly fine. That makes sense. Also keep in mind, compensation is about more than just salary. It includes other things too, and we’ll touch on those in a little bit.
All right, so here’s one more thing to do before you actually start looking for a new employee. You want to determine [00:19:30] who your point person for hiring for this position is going to be. And this could be the person who will be the new hires direct supervisor, or it may be someone else in your company who you’ve decided should handle or at least coordinate all hiring. Now this internal point person is going to pre-screen candidates and they’re going to pass on qualified resumes to anyone else who needs to see them. The point person’s going to review the applications based on the job description, the required qualifications and strengths and weaknesses as determined by [00:20:00] the manager and anyone else hiring for the position. And if you are using one person to handle all the hiring pieces, you might have sometimes where you receive pushback from individual managers who maybe are used to being the point person.
I recommend reminding them that you may very well receive 30, 60, even 100 applications for a job depending on the situation, but only 10 are maybe going to meet the necessary qualifications. In all honesty, this part [00:20:30] of recruitment takes a lot of time. Assure the managers that relieving them of this administrative burden is going to save them time to do what they need to do and that the best candidates are going to be passed along to them for review. Consistency and record keeping compliance are other areas where having one person as your hiring point person may be an advantage. And when I say maybe, I really mean it absolutely is an advantage. Having a single person helping direct the hiring [00:21:00] process is going to ensure each round of hiring is conducted in a similar fashion, steps aren’t skipped, important paperwork or compliance pieces aren’t skipped.
And for record keeping, it’s really important that companies adhere to recruiting guidelines that are issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC. Specifically it’s required that you keep all application materials for those you don’t hire for a year after the hiring decision was made. And that’s just one requirement. [00:21:30] All right, so let’s talk about going out there in the market and attracting talent. We want to work to find the best candidates for our positions that meet the specifications of our job descriptions. And this starts by getting the word out there about the job opening. So how do we begin to even attract talent to apply to our open positions? Well, one important [00:22:00] way is by creating job postings. You’ll want to identify why someone would want to work for you and be clear about the job requirements, the essential functions and the expectation.
Let’s talk about why someone wants to work for you, for your company, really like what makes your company special. One of the first ways you can do this is to put your company’s strengths right into your job postings. So for example, if you encourage great work-life balance or you have on-site food or catered meals or maybe your benefits package [00:22:30] is awesome or you have really flexible working room arrangements, maybe you have unlimited PTO, talk about that stuff, whatever it is. You definitely want to have some pizzazz and some really bright spots in your job posting. It’s going to give candidates an idea of the culture you have and how much you value your employees. And that in turn is going to generate excitement for the position and working for your company even if it’s not for a specific position.
So the job posting [00:23:00] itself should include the minimum requirements for the ideal candidate and the essential functions from your job description. And for example, if you require a college degree in business or two years of prior management experience, I do recommend getting that stuff out there right away, right in the job posting. You can even include the full job description or a link to your website if it’s posted there. If you don’t have online posting capabilities on your website, just tell interested parties who to contact for an application or the full job description. And as I’m sure [00:23:30] you can tell, I just really want a candidate to see that job description before they apply. Prior to posting, I do recommend deciding whether or not you’re going to post pay along with job. In an effort to be transparent, I prefer to post the pay, but I’m going to give you a few things to consider here. Pros and cons.
First though, like I mentioned, some states have passed some pay transparency and equity related laws that actually require employers to post compensation [00:24:00] for job openings internally and externally in various circumstances. But even outside of a legal requirement, many employers choose to share this information for a few reasons. So on the plus side it may immediately generate interest and can help demonstrate that you have nothing to hide, you value transparency, and additionally it’s going to help qualified candidates determine if the position is right for them from a compensation standpoint, and it might even help people screen themselves out before submitting an application. [00:24:30] On the flip side, there are some cons to posting pay with the job. And so if you have an option, you’ll want to consider these two.
Now, if you are offering pay that might be on the lower end, some qualified candidates may choose not to apply based only on that detail and it wouldn’t give you the opportunity to adjust pay for the right candidate if that’s a company practice. Competitors may certainly use that pay information to post a position at a pay rate [00:25:00] similar or above yours. And if you have really competitive pay, you may generate tons of eager applicants that may not be qualified for the job, so it might require some extra screening. And then finally, at the end of the posting, you want to link to the job description, like I said, so interested parties can review all the details. Okay, now let’s pause and break this up with a little poll. So we’re going to put that on the screen. [00:25:30] There it is. You can see the question there. Do you include compensation information in your job postings?
Go ahead and give us a little bit of an idea of what we’re talking about here. Got yes, we do or no, but we’ve been thinking about it and nope, and I don’t plan to start. All right, we’ve got about 65 percent of our audience here participating. And remember you’ll just click the answer right on the screen. [00:26:00] You don’t need to chat in your answer or anything, you’ll just click the answer on the screen. All right, got about 75% of you participating. We’ll give it here about 10 more seconds. All right. Got some interesting information coming in here. Awesome. All right, right, well we will go ahead and stop the poll. Thank [00:26:30] you everyone for participating. We’re going to share the results now, and you can see here that 67% of you are already sharing compensation information in your job postings. So that is interesting. We’ve definitely seen an increase, like I said, since in some places it’s absolutely required now.
And then we do have about 20% of you who don’t, but you’ve been thinking about it and 14% of you who don’t and don’t have any interest in doing that. So a little interesting demographic [00:27:00] information out there. And now we will continue. All right. So on this slide I want to give a shout-out to all of the professional recruiters out there. These are a highly skilled set of professionals who can find just about anyone you’re looking for a job opening, and I really like to think of them like Batman. You’re going to throw out the bat signal and even if you think you’ve got a position that is impossible to fill, chances are a professional recruiter [00:27:30] already has someone that can fill that, or if not, they’re going to work really hard and find someone that does.
Professional recruiters are commonly used for higher level positions or those that are just more difficult to fill. And one of the reasons that they’re so successful is because they have a national pipeline. They likely have people from all over the country that are interested and possibly available to interview for a position you have open. They also have national salary data and other useful [00:28:00] information. You might have salary information for your industry or maybe just your geographic area, but professional recruiters likely have that information for a lot broader range of positions and areas and can really narrow the data down to be more relevant to you. Now, however, recruiters do come at a premium because they’re really good at what they do. You get what you pay for. So their services are likely to be more expensive than recruiting in-house, but they’re also going to be worth it if you need it.
[00:28:30] A professional recruiter might charge something like a 20% fee. So for example, if you’re hiring for a position that’s going to pay $100,000 a year, we’ll use that number to be easy. A professional recruiter might cost you 20% of that salary or $20,000. Now, staffing agencies can also be great resources on a more temporary basis, whereas a professional employer organization or a PEO might be a good long-term resource. So a PEO operates as an organization’s [00:29:00] HR department in that it becomes the employer of record and in turn it leases the employee back to the organization. A PEO can provide a full service HR function like payroll and or benefits. They can also provide cost-effective solutions that allow smaller companies to offer competitive or comparable benefits to larger organizations.
All right, so now if you are taking on recruiting internally, let’s [00:29:30] discuss important considerations when thinking about where you might want to post jobs. So what we don’t want to do is just throw a spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. I know recruiting is expensive and you can certainly, and you want to be strategic about where you spend your dollars. You definitely want to post on the hot site for your industry, which that’s going to be different depending on what your industry is. But in the past if you’ve advertised on websites that you do have to pay to post on, I recommend spending a few minutes to analyze those results. [00:30:00] Consider not only the upfront fee, but whether you received a good number of applications specifically from that source that were qualified candidates and was it worth the cost overall. I encourage you to narrow your focus to where you have had success in the past or to new areas where you think are promising and might give you success in the future.
Now while the old relic, [00:30:30] the newspaper ad and even online job boards can be really valuable ways to recruit new talent and reach a wide range of people, you also want to think about other ways to source applicants. So maybe some that are maybe a little more under the radar. And let’s think about places and events where talented candidates may be hiding, sometimes in plain view. Think about overlooked talent pools, and for example, there’s a website out there you can post jobs specifically geared towards certain populations or groups and that [00:31:00] could be a fantastic way to get to a pool of candidates for certain positions that might need highly specialized experience or skills.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, a company that recruits hundreds of service techs every year in the automotive industry got really inventive and they sponsored a dragster and a drag race and that enabled them to search through highly skilled candidates. It got their brand and their name out there and all these candidates had the mechanical backgrounds they were looking for and they might not even [00:31:30] have been actively looking for new employment, but they became aware of this company because of that effort. You also certainly want to take advantage of any community events and job fairs in your area. Tabling can be a good way to reach out and connect with potential applicants face-to-face. And being able to answer questions about your company and the position before an interested person even completes an application can really help weed out those who may not be a good fit or won’t be happy in the role.
[00:32:00] An often overlooked resource is in schools. Many colleges actually guarantee their graduates a job placement rate and they have an entire department of individual staff to help their students become employees in the industry of their education. Oftentimes the coordinators of these programs will come to you for jobs as well, which is another just direct talent pipeline. So reach out to your local community colleges, universities, trade schools, talk with them about any [00:32:30] students that they might have that would fit your job description needs. They often also have their own job boards that can get your job posting in front of a lot of students or even alums in a hurry. And then another great source that really, really often gets forgotten about is reaching out to those who submitted applications to work for you in the past. And even those you interviewed who might have been a second or third choice.
You already know they’re interested in your company and you may have already even met them. And even if [00:33:00] it’s been a half a year since they submitted an application, reach out if you liked them. What’s the worst that can happen? Is they say they already found another job or they’re no longer looking, but at least you tried. Now as I mentioned earlier, you also want to talk up what kind of benefits you offer. Employers can get really tied up in the job expectations, which are important and they must be included like we’ve already discussed. But employers can often forget [00:33:30] the fun stuff, the ancillary, they forget to sell themselves as the employer that is the best one out there. They forget to talk about all the awesome reasons somebody would want to work for them. Now, really talk yourself up and put the best face forward. This can be done in that job posting. It can be done again in pre-screening when you’re talking to applicants initially. And then again in the interviews.
Now be sure to include any traditional benefits you offer, [00:34:00] like various insurances, retirement plans, PTO, but don’t forget the ancillary stuff as well. Have you won a workplace award for a great workplace culture or for employee morale? If so, say that. If you have flexible hours or work arrangements, if you allow employees to telecommute, if you offer discounts on your products or services that someone might be interested in, talk about all that stuff. Honestly these things will tip the scale with candidates. I really guarantee that. [00:34:30] As you prepare the list of benefits and other things that you want to make sure you share, think about the following, what makes working at your company special or better than working for someone else? Why do employees get excited to get out of bed and come to work each day? What do you offer that others don’t? These are the things we really want to make sure our applicants know.
Not long ago it was an employer’s job market and employers could be a bit [00:35:00] laissez-faire about recruiting. And the thought process was more along the lines of, I have a job. I know we’re in a recession and all kinds of people will be competing for this job, so I don’t really have to get excited about benefits and extras. But that changed and it’s oscillated back and forth between employer and employee job market over the last few years Pretty frequently. Due in part to the pandemic as well as other factors, we’ve seen a lot of employee job market situations out there. Employees have lots of options [00:35:30] and they’re going to be really discerning about where they choose to take their career. Priorities have changed, so we need to be certain to let them know how our company stands out from the rest of the pack and why we would be a great fit for them.
Another way to attract great talent is highlighting the company’s growth potential. Let’s say for example, you know that you’re offering an entry or mid-level position and you don’t necessarily think you’ll be able to lead the market in terms of pay. Well, great opportunity [00:36:00] to use growth potential during the hiring process is that can be a really good lure. Candidates want to see that there’s a career path for them. There’s opportunity. Now, it is also really important not to make any promises you can’t keep or don’t intend to keep, but absolutely outline the typical career trajectory for this type of position during the interview. Remember, the promotion or position transfer is likely to come only after the employee has successfully mastered the essential functions of that initial role and after we’ve seen that [00:36:30] they’re a great fit. It’s important to communicate this and not guarantee concrete timeframes for growth.
For example, we don’t want to promise in six months you’re going to be managing the whole department, especially if that isn’t realistic. And we really do need to see the employee in action before we can determine a timeframe or even if they’re the right person to manage the department. So think about that. And additionally such a concrete promise could be construed as a verbal contract depending on the circumstances, so you [00:37:00] might even be held accountable to it if you say it. We really just want to make sure applicants are aware that there are growth opportunities for employees in your organization. All right, we’ve got a lot of talented applications and applicants now, so we want to make sure we’re tracking these details and being efficient in that process. So if you’re satisfied with the selection of applicants you have, you can move forward. If not, you want to go back and repeat some steps and see who else you can find.
[00:37:30] I mentioned this briefly before, but it is really important that we’re keeping track of the documents a candidate submits for the position along with the interview notes and any other information related to the refusal to hire a candidate for a year after the decision is made. And this can be accomplished in electronic or paper format. I may be a little old school here, but my preference is to maintain a paper file per position opening and mark the file with the date that the hiring decision [00:38:00] is made. And if it’s not on paper, I at least have a separate folder just for that position. And again, name the file with the date that the decision was made. And then I’m certain to maintain that file for the proper retention period. And if you have a software system, you may want to scan the interview notes, attach them to the application, or maintain a separate file just for those notes because you’re already maintaining a bunch of that info electronically somewhere else.
Another consideration is how much hiring you do. [00:38:30] It can get cumbersome to have individual files for every position if you’re hiring all the time or if you hire frequently throughout the year. And if that’s the case, you may want to look at scanning the information and storing it electronically or in a different way. Either way, just be certain you have files for the proper retention period. And in case that hiring decision is a for challenge, you’re going to rely heavily on those documents to look back and say, this is how we made the decision, this is the process we followed. [00:39:00] And one of the ways that we can track applications if we have the luxury is the use of recruiting software. Software systems can be incredibly useful to accept and sort applications. And if you’re in a company that uses software, it’s really important not to use those systems as a crutch.
Overusing application systems, and what I mean by that is lengthy application processes, challenging test questions, asking someone to essentially rewrite their resume [00:39:30] into the software, those sorts of things. It’s cumbersome, it is not fun for a candidate and it’s not a great first impression. I’ve heard a number of candidates personally and out there in the world talk about they don’t even continue with an application process because it tells them a lot about the company if they have to jump through a lot of really unnecessary hurdles just to apply. So you want to make sure that your system is focused on the job relatedness of the essential functions, keeping in mind recruiting software can’t [00:40:00] screen for an X factor. So think about your company culture and how the employee might fit the role. These can’t be screened with a software only.
So instead, strengths like this and a candidates fit, I recommend relying first on a cover letter or a personalized application. These allow employees to share what it is that interests them about your job and that speaks volumes for them. And also can’t necessarily be captured in just a computer system. Lots of companies [00:40:30] that don’t use recruitment software use other project management or other types of programs that aren’t specifically meant for that, but can be made to work just depending on your needs. So for smaller companies it may mean just using what you already have and figuring out how to best make it work for you. Okay, so on the next couple of slides we’ll be talking about screening our applicants. And honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of the recruitment process.
So time spent thoroughly reviewing applications and screening them [00:41:00] ahead of time. It does make the interview process great and challenging because you’re likely to end up actually interviewing really great candidates, which makes that final selection difficult, but I like having that problem. There are a lot of things to consider during the screening process. I’m going to share just a few of my favorite with you. The first one here is cover letters, even if it’s just a simple introductory email. When you’re looking at a candidate’s skillset, you’ll want to consider [00:41:30] what you need them to have on day one versus what you can train them to do once they start. You don’t want to ask for things that aren’t necessary for the job. Does every job require a bachelor’s degree? No. Some might not even require a high school diploma, but some absolutely do require a certain level of education or experience. So just keep that in mind as your pre-screening.
Also, screening is a great time to look for red flags. So I don’t know, for me, I don’t like when an application’s incomplete or if they haven’t proofread their application [00:42:00] or even their cover letter. I don’t expect everyone to write they’re a professional writer or an editor, but I want them to show that they at least spent a little time on it. Gaps in employment are really important to keep an eye out for, but also keep an open mind. It’s not uncommon for people to simply just be unemployed for a period of time for perfectly valid reason. Keep an eye out maybe for odd reasons of leaving a previous job and ask the applicant if you need any clarification. I used to come across [00:42:30] this when I worked in the seasonal retail world, leaving a retail job in November and saying, I left because it was the end of the season is a little suspect, that’s typically the busiest time of the year.
These kinds of things would at least raise questions in my mind. They’d be things I want to be aware of as I move forward in the hiring process, but I don’t recommend relying solely on these red flags to screen out applicants, just things you want to keep an eye out for. And keep in mind, especially these days, [00:43:00] the pandemic really put people in some unusual employment or unemployment situations. It’s important to give a little grace in that regard. Okay, and then verifications. So really important, there’s a really big difference between verifications and reference checks. When should you do reference checks and when should you do information verification? I strongly recommend completing both after you’ve screened applications. So after [00:43:30] you’ve picked the best applicants, you have a choice to conduct reference checks before or after you set up an interview.
I’ve gotten into some pretty lively discussions with other HR professionals about timing, whether they prefer to wait until after an interview. Some people don’t want to waste time interviewing someone who wasn’t truthful about their education or their previous work or their licenses, so you may choose to perform those verifications and reference checks before the interview. Okay, [00:44:00] so now you’ve got some great applications, they’ve been screened and now you want to bring these candidates in and see what they have to offer your company, and it’s really important that we prepare internally for the interview. Before the interview, you want to design your interview structure and that comes with many factors to decide on. So first of all, figure out the who, decide who’s going to be involved in interviewing and include them from here on out. How many people per interview, how many interviews total.
Determine where [00:44:30] the interviews will be held. Will it be via phone, in-person, via zoom? Are you prepared to help people travel? Are you prepared to pay for travel? Are you prepared to hire someone without having met them face to face? These are all different approaches to the interview in some are right in certain situations and some are better. And you’ll know best about the kind of approach you want to take and it might be different for different positions. There are [00:45:00] also standard interviews, behavioral and situational interviews, even presentation and panel interviews. I’m going to elaborate on some of these. You’ll also want to consider what the employee will be doing when planning the interview. So if their day-to-day is going to involve dealing with lots of employees across lots of different environments and teams, you might consider a panel interview.
If they’re not, if they’re going to be working really individually or just with one or two other people, then maybe they only need to meet [00:45:30] with one person. If you do choose panel interviews, small or large panels, please be sure to notify the candidate of this ahead of time so they know what to expect. I personally prefer behavioral interviews. The industries that I’ve been in are really about how do you handle yourself on the job? How do you handle tough situations with clients or even customers? And how do you maintain excellent relationships or service? So for example, one of my favorite questions is, tell me about a time you had to help a client with a really [00:46:00] difficult situation and the client became upset. And from there I want to hear how the candidate worked with that client, what their thought process was like, how they achieved a solution. Now this may or may not be appropriate for you depending on the position you’re filling, that’s for you to determine.
And then if you’re the point person, you’ll want to ensure that all the interviewers have the necessary information to be successful. This typically includes providing [00:46:30] each interviewer a copy of the applicant resumes, perhaps their applications and their cover letters as well. Ensuring interviewers have a copy of the job description can help keep them focused on the important pieces of the role. Lastly and pretty critical, you want to be sure you provide interviewers confirmation of and even a reminder about the date, the time, the location of each interview. We want to make sure they show up. Okay. I strongly recommend preparing five [00:47:00] or six interview questions ahead of time. This is going to help you feel more prepared for the interview itself. It’s going to be more helpful for you to give the candidate your undivided attention. It’ll also ensure you cover everything you want to discuss and they are interviewing in a consistent way.
Now on the flip side of that, you also want to make sure you allow yourself time to elaborate or go on side tangents with the candidate rather than sticking rigidly to the questions like they’re a script. Oftentimes you can gain really valuable information you didn’t even know you wanted. [00:47:30] Also, very important that we have the right kinds of questions and that we remain job focused. I’m going to talk a little bit more about this in a minute, but I do want to mention discrimination here because it’s easy to stray into troublesome waters with some interview questions. So even if you think you’re basing your questions on legitimate job factors, for example, you might want to ask about scheduling availability. But to do that, we’re not going to ask questions like, do you have reliable childcare? Instead, [00:48:00] define and emphasize what you need in terms of scheduling availability, and then just simply ask if the candidate’s able to meet those requirements.
Asking about somebody’s childcare could easily be perceived as discriminatory, even if that’s not your intent and you might not even actually get all the information you need in the answer. Age is also a subject to steer clear from. Under federal and many state laws, age is protected. So we need to be careful that we’re not asking questions purposely or inadvertently about somebody’s [00:48:30] protected class. That doesn’t mean we have to eliminate age related questions altogether. It just means they need to be repackaged a bit. I’ve worked with clients that for licensing purposes or maybe they need to operate certain machinery, they have age requirements for a job and that is perfectly fine, but we can’t simply ask for a candidate’s age. Instead, we want to state the requirement. For example, you may state employees have to be 18 in order to operate the machinery required for this position. And then you can just ask the [00:49:00] candidate if they meet that requirement, at which point they should just provide a simple yes or no and then you can move on.
Now, I’m going to totally contradict myself here because I just talked about yes or no answers and how they’re great and useful and avoiding discrimination with age. But for the most part we generally want to ask open-ended questions when it’s about the actual job or about experience. That’s going to allow the candidate to elaborate a bit for us. So asking how would your coworkers describe your work style or work habits [00:49:30] instead of, are you organized and thorough? Is going to allow them to provide you with a better sense of who they really are. All right, we’re going to do one more poll. We’re going to do this one a little faster because we are coming up towards the end of our time together, but you’ll see on the screen here, how many rounds of interviews do you usually schedule for a candidate before offering the job? We’ve got just one, two, or three or we offer four or more. So go ahead.
We’re just going to do this for probably another 15, [00:50:00] 20 seconds here. We’re already about halfway, which is great. All right, things are looking as I expected in these responses. Wonderful. We’re going to give it about five more seconds here. Go ahead and just click the answer on the screen. All right, thank you. We’re about 70%, so we’re going to close that and share the results. So 68% of you said about two to three rounds of interviews. [00:50:30] Great. That’s probably about what I expected. 32% of you just doing one interview, and then we’ve got 1% of you out there that are doing four more. And some of this might be based on what kind of jobs you’re typically hiring for, really entry level positions or lower skill positions you probably don’t need to do more than one interview, and that’s totally okay. And then as you have different types of jobs, it may be important to do lots and lots of interviews or to do just a couple.
Okay. [00:51:00] Let’s move on and talk about the actual interview, because all the stuff leading up to the interview itself is much more time-consuming than the actual interview, but it’s so important because when you do all that prep work and invest the time in doing it, you’re going to have more success when it comes to the interview. So first and foremost, please be on time for any interview. I do like to offer the candidate water, set the scene first, if it’s in-person. [00:51:30] Regardless of format, you want to make sure you introduce all the employees who are joining the interview, explain who they are, what they do, why they’re involved in the interview, if that’s not clear from their position. I also think it’s great to give the candidate some background on the company and the role, even if you’ve already done this in the job posting or in an initial screening, it’s really helpful to just make sure everyone’s on the same page and remind them of the details.
As far as asking questions, I know it sounds silly, but ask the question then just stop talking. [00:52:00] It could be really easy to get carried away explaining what you’re looking for in the question or trying to help clarify, but we want to give them the opportunity to actually answer. We don’t want to give them too much information or not give them enough time to answer. We also don’t want to ask leading questions like, are you a hard worker? I bet you’ll have a hard time finding someone that’s going to say, nope, I don’t work hard, right? That’s understandable. You also want to know if a candidate will be a hard worker, [00:52:30] a productive, successful employee. There’s other ways we can ask that question that are going to get to the heart of what you’re actually looking for and can be more open-ended.
Now, while you are welcome to take notes during the interview, I typically recommend against writing directly on someone’s resume or their application. I recommend writing notes on a note sheet. That way it’s really clear what was written and when and by who. And make sure that you’re really [00:53:00] only taking notes on the applicant’s skills or the experience or job related things. If you are somebody who takes notes about appearance as a way to remind yourself who someone was, just remember in court or in other situations, post notes might look more discriminatory than you thought. Lastly, stay on track and on time. Remember, the candidate should also be interviewing the company. So be sure to leave a little time for Q&A [00:53:30] at the end, or you can answer questions along the way and make it more conversational like that. Whatever you prefer.
Ultimately, just remember the interview isn’t about you, it’s about collecting information so you can make a decision, and it’s about giving the candidate information so they can make a decision. It’s a conversation about their skillset and abilities and the needs your company has and the environment you’ve created. Touched on some of this a minute ago, but I’m just going to [00:54:00] say a little more here about a few pitfalls during interviews that could have unintended and unexpected consequences down the road. It’s important for you and any interviewer to know before going into an interview. But ultimately, I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but the best way to avoid claims of discrimination in interviews is really focus on the essential functions of the job. Again, that’s why job descriptions are so important.
Now, you might find yourself in a position where you need to end or redirect questions that are out [00:54:30] of line by someone that is interviewing with you. And something like, do you have childcare question, I mentioned. I really try to be proactive and train managers or other interviewers that I’m going to be working with ahead of time, but I’ve been in this situation many times and I’ve never had a manager ask a question I thought they intended to be problematic. Thankfully though most questions can be adjusted or redirected, so it’s appropriate. And so while asking directly about childcare isn’t appropriate, the point you’re trying to get at is workplace schedule [00:55:00] and availability. So in this situation, you might say, actually, I don’t need you to answer that, but what we do need to know is whether or not you can work our schedule that might include nights and weekends.
We don’t really care about someone’s childcare situation or other personal factors, what we care about is whether or not they can work this schedule. Plus if you narrow that question to childcare, you might miss out on other valuable answers. Maybe someone is taking classes at night or cares for a family member [00:55:30] or something like that. The question didn’t even get the information that you needed. One other thing I do also want to mention is discrimination in hiring based on a customer’s preference is still discrimination. So for example, I’ve had managers come to me and say, well, I only want a female in this position at the front desk, or I only want a male because that’s what our customers want. And I do have to advise them it’s my job to protect the company and our hiring processes, and that’s just not how I’m able to recruit or hire, but I assure I’m going [00:56:00] to find them the best candidates for the position, and I’m excited to involve them in that hiring process. That way I can reassure my coworker and I can still stay on track with our equal employment responsibilities.
On this screen you’ll see a bunch of different types of biases that come up all the time in the workplace. Similar to me, bias means we’re really inclined to like people who have similar backgrounds or similar traits or characteristics as us, and it can sometimes cloud [00:56:30] judgment. Stereotyping, we’re probably all aware what that is. It’s pretty common bias. Associating somebody with a specific group and therefore specific traits can be really problematic. The halo and horn effect is really common where one really good or really bad thing overrides all of the other information you’re gathering. So again, we just want to make sure we are aware of biases. We’re human, we have them, we’re not going to get rid of them, but we can be aware of them and we [00:57:00] can account for them.
Okay, we completed all the legwork here. We’ve gotten through all the interviews. Let’s talk about following up. And I know we’re a little close to the end of our time here. I’m going to stay on longer to answer any questions. And of course, again, remember we are sending out the recording within about 24 hours here. So if you do have to hop off, you’ll still get it. All right, so we’re going to talk about following up after the interview, which does encompass a number of moving pieces. [00:57:30] I did talk about reference checks before, a little more here. I love reference checks. In some cases they’re really useful whether you choose to conduct them prior to the interview or after, they can provide you a lot of valuable information and confirm information you may have received from the candidate themselves.
My preference is to have past supervisors, possibly a coworker provide a professional reference. But even if it’s an entry level candidate who’s never had a job before, [00:58:00] I’ve called sports coaches, volunteer coordinators, teachers, whoever they’re willing to provide, somebody who can provide some sort of reference and tell me how a candidate handles pressure or whether they behave maturely or what their strengths or weaknesses are. All right, on this slide you’re going to see some really great go-to questions I use in interviews all the time. I’m not going to review much about them here because they’re all on the screen there, but these are some good examples [00:58:30] to start with. All right, let’s talk about making the final selection. I prefer to gather all the information collected during the interview process along with assessments from all the company personnel who were involved or will be making the hiring decision.
Bad hires happen, it’s just part of doing business, but you want to use the factual information collected to make the best assessment and choice for your company. Essentially I want to make sure to the extent [00:59:00] that I can, we have the right person, in the right job, at the right time. If you can get that in order, it’s going to be a huge impact on your success. And then you’ll want to think back of course to the job description and your company’s needs. Can the applicant do the job? Will the applicant do the job? And then last question’s going to be, is the candidate the best fit for the position and the company right now? Few things to avoid during [00:59:30] the hiring process. Background checks, physical exams, drug tests, they have to be job related really. They should be reserved until after you’ve extended an employment offer.
I understand there are lots of positions and reasons why you might need to run background checks or do physicals or drug tests and that’s absolutely appropriate in certain positions. And you can and you likely should run those either because you’re required to or because it’s appropriate. [01:00:00] But they do need to be run, like I said, after an employment offer has been extended. So you’re going to issue that job offer contingent upon successfully meeting those requirements. Remember also if you do utilize any of these sorts of tests or checks, they must be required of all similarly situated applicants for the same position and your current employees. So now when it’s time to make a job offer to the finalist, we did touch on contingencies, [01:00:30] this then, but I understand you’re going to want to run those checks. So you’re going to offer that job. It’s going to say it’s contingent on meeting those requirements. And then once they do, you can confirm with them that the job offer still stands.
And lastly, let’s talk about some things to do once we have found and secured the ideal candidate. So first of all you want to make sure you’re retaining those applications, resumes, notes, assessments, any documentation pertaining to that decision you made to hire them or not. And [01:01:00] again, best resources should your decision ever be challenged, is that documentation. After you have a confirmed accepted job offer, you want to tie up loose ends with your other applicants that you did not choose. Failure to follow up with people who’ve invested their time with your company is just, it’s bad business. Those that don’t hear anything after they’ve put their hopes on the line and interviewed with you even, they’re probably going to share their experience with others, whether that’s people they know directly or online.
A simple email [01:01:30] to those that weren’t selected for an interview will do. Just let them know the position was filled with someone who more closely met your qualifications and you wish them well. For those that were invited in for an interview, I do strongly recommend a phone call to inform them of that hiring decision. And email’s fine, but they invested time with you. They met with you. So in my opinion they probably deserve a phone call. And then once you’ve tied up all those loose ends, you’re going to move on to onboarding for your newly hired employee. And like I said in the beginning, that’s a subject for a whole other training, [01:02:00] but I’m going to leave you with this, make sure you do spend time focusing on how to bring your new employee on board and prepare them for the success of the job.
Okay, we made it. I know we covered a lot today. We are already just a little past the top of the hour, but I hope you’re starting to feel more confident and prepared. I am going to start answering some questions you chatted in. There were some good ones in there. I won’t be able to get to all of them, but I’m going to answer as many as I can. So [01:02:30] a good one is about compensation and salary ranges. So if you disclose you’re hiring in a specific salary range and someone applies and their work history indicates they’re used to making more, are they a flight risk if you hire them? Possibly, that’s possible. I think that goes to the pieces I talked about at the beginning of your employer brand, [01:03:00] being really clear about what you do offer to employees if you’re not able to pay what the market is paying, being really clear with them about how you reach your compensation decisions, making sure that they understand what the compensation is, they understand it’s not negotiable. That is the range.
And that’s going to be your kind of judgment call on, do you think that person really is on board with making that pay? I’ve talked to plenty of people, [01:03:30] myself included, who’ve taken pay cuts to take a job they really wanted and stayed there for a long time. It’s not necessarily that it’s always going to be a flight risk, but it’s certainly something you’ll want to consider. If they indicate that they would like to make a lot more than what you’re offering, I’d say that’s probably a higher risk than if it’s just a little bit higher. Someone asked if I can elaborate [01:04:00] on the topic of distance from the job. So if the candidate just lives really far away, that’s relevant and we need someone to arrive on time and consistently and reliably, traveling long distances can impact that. It absolutely can. You’re right.
I don’t recommend asking people for exactly where they live or how they plan to get to work or anything like that, because again, that could open you up to a lot of information that’s very personal and you don’t need and shouldn’t have. But you can be really clear [01:04:30] about what you expect as far as location of the job, that it is on site, here’s where it is, we expect you to be here on this day and this time. Those sorts of things. It’s their responsibility as a human being and an employee to get themselves where they need to be. But it’s really important that you’ve made your expectations clear and that if it becomes a problem after you hire them, that you address it very quickly so that you can determine if it’s something that is fixable or not.
[01:05:00] Okay. So you got another question here. Somebody asked if you can ask for a candidate’s birth date on the application. So similar to how I said you can’t ask someone’s age in an interview, you also shouldn’t ask that on an application. Again, that is information that could open you up to discrimination claims because age is a protected class. If you have an age requirement for some reason, again, recommend [01:05:30] making that requirement very clear and simply asking a yes or no question on the application if they meet the requirement. And that requirement should be job related, not just, well, we prefer to hire somebody who’s under this age or over that age.
Somebody did ask about cover letters as well, that most people really don’t even customize their resume anymore, let alone provide a cover letter. You’re right, that is less common these days. In certain [01:06:00] positions it’s still required, it’s still appropriate, in others it’s just not. I’ve seen a variety of different options here. I’ve seen many employers move to asking just short answer questions and making responses required. They can’t move forward in that online application if they don’t complete that field, something like that. You could also ask for things that are more specific than a cover letter. A writing sample, or please explain [01:06:30] your relevant experience with a specific program or project or environment. You don’t necessarily need a cover letter, that’s a traditional thing, but it’s not something that is required or has a specific definition either.
Okay. Somebody asked, are we able to set our own age requirements? Again, it depends on whether it’s a real job related requirement. So preference is not a requirement. [01:07:00] Preference would be considered likely discriminatory, but if you need certain licensure or insurance or something like that, or if let’s say there’s an age requirement for serving alcohol or things like that, then that is very appropriate to include as a job requirement. But again, just saying we will only hire somebody who’s under this age or over that age, that would [01:07:30] likely be considered discriminatory depending on the reasons you chose that age or the reason you chose an age requirement at all.
All right, so we are going to wrap up now. I did not get to all the questions, so I apologize about that. If you do have access to our team of HR experts to ask your HR questions, I highly recommend that you utilize those for your specific questions. [01:08:00] And we also have lots of resources about interviewing and recruiting and hiring on the platform. So as a final reminder, we’re going to email you a PDF of the slides and the recording in about 24 hours. So have a great rest of your day and thank you so much again for joining me.