How to Create a Hiring Process that Works

How to Create a Hiring Process that Works

Hiring, with its many rules and regulations, is a complex process to manage. If you’re planning to grow your small business team, you need a clear set of steps and tools to help you find the right candidates for the next job offer. A solid and consistent process can also help you remain legally compliant. That’s why outlining a hiring process before getting started is so important, especially is you’re just starting a business. For those who are thinking about hiring their first new employee or businesses that simply want to improve their recruitment process, check out the guide below.

What is a Hiring Process?

A hiring process is a consistent set of steps a business takes in order to attract job applicants, screen candidates, and ultimately bring on new team members. The exact process you use may vary a bit depending on the job offer and the role you’re hiring for. However, a basic list of steps helps companies avoid favoritism and discrimination when growing their teams while finding the most qualified candidates for each position.

Hiring Process Steps

Each small business hiring process should look a bit different based on their specific needs. However, there are some basic steps that many businesses use to find their candidates. Consider the list below for your own hiring process; then adapt them to create your own process customized to your needs.

1. Identify Hiring Need

The hiring process generally starts when a manager realizes that they have a role that needs filling. This may be because of expansion, the exit of an existing employee, or the need for expertise in a specific area. This step is important because every hire and the job it entails should serve a specific purpose within your company. Otherwise, you’re just expending resources without an end goal in mind. To get really specific with this step, think about the job title and duties that will best serve your business. You can either handle this step as the business owner, or delegate it to the manager of the department in question.

2. Create Detailed Description of Job

Then it’s time to write out all the specific duties and features of the position. Include roles, responsibilities, and skills potential candidates must have. Work with the department manager and other team members who will work closely with this individual, which should give you a good starting point for sharing the opportunity with interested parties.

3. Craft Job Ad and Post in Appropriate Spots

Not every spot is right for every job, but you should have a standard list of places where you post available job opportunities. For example, you might use your local classifieds for basic administrative positions that need to work in your office. However, if you need to fill a more specialized position consider a job site that’s tailored to that industry or specialty. Use your job description to create an ad that clearly outlines the skills and qualities you’re looking for and tells candidates how to apply.

4. Review and Sort Applications

Once the applications start rolling in, it’s time to filter out the candidates you want to consider throughout the rest of the hiring process. Include a checklist of things you’re looking for in each application. For example, you might search for key skills in their resume, a cover letter without errors, and candidates who show enthusiasm for the job. For specialized positions, have the manager of that department help you choose the most qualified candidates. Because they’ll likely be more versed in the relevant terms and language that qualified applicants would use.

5. Go Through the Interview Process

With a list of qualified applicants, you can then start to filter through by speaking directly with each one of the candidates. If you’re considering a lot of people, you might have your HR director perform phone interviews. This is to determine who’s the best fit before requiring everyone to come into the office for a lengthy in-person interview.

Once you’re down to your top candidates, you, your HR director, and/or the department manager can meet with them in person or using video chat for remote positions. Discuss specific situations they may encounter while performing their duties to determine who is best up to the challenge to do the job. For specialized positions, the interview process may include several rounds of meetings. You can also include aptitude tests, writing samples, or other qualifying activities to separate the best candidates. This will help you vet the best employee for the job offer.

6. Do Your Research

During the application process, you may also ask applicants to consent to background checks and submit references. Once you have a top candidate or two in mind, complete those background and reference checks to make sure they support the applicant’s claims. Many small businesses outsource background checks, but you can likely make the reference checks on your own or with your HR manager. However, if the job offer is for a sensitive position you have to make sure you have the right employee. Do your due diligence when it comes to background checks for these positions.

7. Make a Job Offer and Negotiate

When you’re confident with a candidate, it’s time to contact them and make an official job offer. This may start as a standard offer you created for the position. However, they may want to negotiate some of the details like their specific salary and employee benefits.

8. Onboarding

Once you’ve selected your new employee, it’s time to finish up the hiring process and get them ready for their new role. Your HR manager should start by having each new employee fill out the necessary forms like their W-4 and I-9. Then it’s time to train them for their new job. In some cases, you may have video or virtual classes available for you new employee. But you should also assign them to a mentor or department head who can explain procedures to them and answer their questions.

Further Reading: Recruiting and Hiring Tactics

Hiring Tools

Some of your hiring procedures may benefit from automation. There are tech tools available to help you save time and make better decisions. From creating job applications to finding screening tools that help your business stay compliant throughout the hiring process, here are some human resource tools to help you find you next employee.

Zoho People

Zoho People integrates a variety of HR processes into one central dashboard. When it comes to the hiring process, you can use it to assess your current employees and departments to find areas of need. Then you can create onboarding processes to bring new employees up to speed as quickly as possible.


BambooHR is a tool built specifically for SMBs. The software offers features for everything from onboarding to time tracking. When it comes to the process for hiring new employees specifically, BambooHR offers an applicant tracking system that evaluates each candidate’s fit with both the position and company culture. There’s also a mobile hiring app for companies that want to create a hiring procedure from anywhere.


HRdirect offers a wide array of solutions for businesses, from workplace training to employee recognition. For those in the hiring process, HRdirect offers job application forms to help companies stay compliant, workplace policy templates, aptitude tests, and tools for welcoming new employees to the team.

For more options, check out: 7 Examples of HR Software for your Small Business

Hiring Process FAQs

We answer the most frequently asked questions business owners have about their hiring process below.

Are There Hiring Laws I Should Be Aware Of?

Yes, small businesses in the U.S. should acquaint themselves with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws and ADA hiring guidelines. Some states also have their own rules and regulations that go beyond these, so research the rules where your business is based just to be safe.

The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against candidates or employees due to various factors, including race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, or previous complaints or lawsuits about discrimination.

The ADA encompasses a variety of regulations that prohibit businesses or organizations from discriminating against candidates or employees with disabilities. It also requires those with physical locations to make their facilities accessible.

With these regulations in mind, you can craft applications, tailor interview questions, and navigate your hiring process while ensuring that you’re inclusive of all candidates.

For more information, check out:

How Can I Hire More Inclusively?

Diversity is more than just a buzzword for businesses. Companies with gender diverse teams are 21 percent more likely to outperform others. And companies with ethnically diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform others. Bringing in team members from various walks of life means adding new voices to the conversation. Your team may be more likely to look at things in creative ways and craft solutions that work for your target audience.

When you want to hire for a job, bringing in diverse candidates starts with your job description and hiring process. Make it clear when crafting your pitch that you welcome candidates of all ages and backgrounds. Then post your job opportunities in places that reach a varied audience. If you rely on outside agencies for your recruiting process, discuss your diversity goals with them. And make sure they’re using outlets that don’t just reach the same pool of candidates over and over again. Additionally, your job offer to each candidate should be fairly standardized; don’t change the numbers or details based on a candidate’s personal information or anything that’s not related to their experience and job performance.

Finally, creating a company culture that is open and inclusive is a must. If a new hire feels unwelcome, they may be less likely to stick around. And it may also harm your company’s reputation with future candidates. This can be a lengthy process. But work with your team to make sure they all feel comfortable and be intentional about giving people equal opportunities for advancement and sharing ideas within your organization.

For tips on diversity hiring, read: Inclusive Hiring Best Practices

How Long Does the Hiring Process Take?

The exact timeline varies depending on the position you’re hiring for. Some things, like background checks and multiple rounds of interviews, take time. However, sometimes you can tailor the hiring process to meet your needs. For example, if you know that an employee is leaving in two weeks, you can set a deadline and make sure your hiring manager and the rest of the team acts as quickly as possible to fill that position so there’s no downtime. Just set a deadline for each step in the process. And make sure candidates and relevant stakeholders within your company know those dates.

Who Should Be On the Hiring Team?

The process starts with your hiring manager, who should be the person who requests a new employee to fill a specific role. Then you have the interviewers, which should include those people the new hire will work with and/or be supervised by. Finally, there’s the HR role, which can include one or more people handling the recruiting process. This includes the first pass interview, managing the mandated paperwork, and onboarding your new employee. In some small businesses, one person might fill multiple roles. However, those who have larger existing teams may want to involve multiple stakeholders in the recruitment process to ensure they bring in candidates with the most relevant skills and experience.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.