The Benefits of a Repeatable Hiring Process
By: Linda Childers
You’ve assessed your company’s workflow and structured your job descriptions to attract top talent.
As your small business grows, it’s a good time to adopt a repeatable hiring process to help your company select the right players for your team.
A good place to start is with the interview process, says Suzanne St. Clair, owner of St. Clair HR Consulting in Stockton, Calif. St. Clair works with many small businesses to develop a consistent, repeatable interview process.
Create Repeatable Success -- St. Clair says a standardized repeatable hiring process is not only key to ensuring interviews are efficient, productive, and designed to recruit the best talent, they also protect a small business owner against potential litigation by following a legal hiring process.
Additionally, your hiring process shouldn’t just be in your head, it should also be detailed and documented on paper.
“Hiring managers often unknowingly put themselves at risk for legal action by asking illegal interview questions that include inquiring about a candidate’s age, marital status, ethnicity, whether they plan to have children, or their political affiliation,” St. Clair says.
Identify the Best Candidates -- At All Points Public Relations in Deerfield, Illinois, Lauren Izaks and her husband, Jamie, manage a staff of 15. The couple has identified specific qualities they value in their employees and corporate culture. They then use these qualities to guide them in their interview process.
After identifying candidates who look good based on their resumes, Lauren Izaks begins the vetting process by conducting a 30-45 minute phone interview with potential candidates. Rather than winging it with each candidate, Izaks interviews candidates using consistent and repeatable practices.
“I begin by telling them about our company, and asking questions about their background and work experiences,” Izaks says. “If the phone interview goes well, I’ll send them a pre-employment test, where they are asked to demonstrate their proficiency in public relations by writing a case study or a news release.”
Izaks and another senior manager then review the writing test to determine the candidates that appear to be the best fit. Those candidates are then asked to come in for an in-person interview with Izaks and her husband.
Ask Behavioral Interview Questions -- When interviewing potential employees, St. Clair says the best questions are those that target an employee’s competencies, such as, “Give me an example of when you’ve done your best work,” or what are commonly referred to as behavioral interviews.
Behavioral interview questions can reveal a candidate’s strengths, how they work as part of a team, and whether they work best with direct supervision.
Izaks has found that keeping the interview process repeatable and consistent from one candidate to the next promotes a fair practice, one that helps her and her husband to recognize top talent.
“By asking candidates why they are interested in working at All Points, it shows if they have a good understanding of our company, and why they want to work there,” Izaks says. “When we ask where they see themselves five to ten years from now, I can determine by their answers whether a candidate’s goals align with our company goals, and whether they see the position as a job or as a career.”
Checking References -- If the in-person interview is a success, Izaks moves on to checking a candidate’s references.
She asks each candidate to supply four references and insists on speaking to three before an offer is made, in order to validate the tasks that candidates claim theyhave done and at the level they represented. Using this process, Izaks also ensures there are no red flags or experience gaps.
Since many companies have instituted policies to limit the information released about individual employees, and will only verify a previous employee’s job titles and employment dates, St. Clair says it’s important to pay attention to tone (if a reference sounds hesitant or uncomfortable, that can be a red flag), and whether a current employer offers a lukewarm or enthusiastic response about a past employee.
Making a Job Offer -- After completing the interviewing and reference process, Izaks calls candidates to make them a job offer. She reviews salary, benefits, and vacation and sick time; she’s also found that giving candidates 24 hours to contemplate the offer ensures that candidates who accept are ready to hit the ground running.
“I always encourage candidates to consider the offer and then call me back the next day either to accept or to ask any questions they may have thought of in the interim,” Izaks says. “If a candidate accepts, they are sent a formal welcome letter with details on their start date.”
After a new hire is secured, Izaks and her staff also conduct a three-month and six-month review where employees are asked to list their accomplishments and also their goals for the coming months.
“Our firm maintains an open door policy so that employees can always come to use with questions,” Izaks says. “I also give each employee a potted plant when they are hired -- I then walk around the office every Friday to water the plants. This gives me a chance to talk informally with each employee to see how their week has been and what’s new in their lives.”