four candidates sitting waiting for job interview
From posting a detailed job description to knowing which questions to ask in the interview, creating a step-by-step hiring process is critical when recruiting new employees. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Hiring a great team member takes, on average, 24 days in the U.S. That’s almost a full month to find some applicants, interview your top candidates and have your top pick sign the contract. This lengthy time commitment makes it all the more important to get your hiring procedure right the first time.

It is possible to reduce the amount of time you spend on hiring by streamlining and systematizing the process. By establishing hiring procedures, you can work smarter, not more; and, over time, delegate your hiring process to other managers on your team. Here’s how to get started building a step-by-step hiring procedure.

Start with the job description

A job description is a good place to start for two reasons. First, by writing the job description, you’re forcing yourself to think about what the role will be. What are the specific duties this person needs to cover? What skills will they bring to the table? The job description gives you the opportunity to think carefully about whether this role is necessary, or if there’s an alternative solution. Is this role something you could outsource? You might even find that a certain software or other technology exists that could cover the tasks you need done, and rethink hiring for the spot at all.

[Read more: Soft Skills are Hard to Find: Hiring Beyond the Resume]

Second, the job description is an important first impression of your company. In the race for great employees, showcasing what makes your company special is critical. Highlight your small business’s mission, values and a fact or two that makes your brand unique.

Referral employees are one of the most valuable hiring sources across a number of metrics.

Publicize the open position

Start by letting your current employees know that there’s a new role open. One of your current team members might have an interest in moving into the position. Or, you may be able to take advantage of an employee referral. Referral employees are one of the most valuable hiring sources across a number of metrics.

If there’s no interest internally, then broaden your search by sharing the job description with the rest of the world. Where you post the position depends largely on the role, but a few places to consider are:

  • LinkedIn and other social media channels.
  • Job sites like Monster, Indeed or Glassdoor.
  • Your website and email newsletter.
  • Local newspaper.
  • A college job site.
  • Professional organizations and associations.
  • At your brick-and-mortar location.

[Read more: Hot Prospects and Social Media: The Best Hiring Strategies to Attract Top Talent]

You may find that casting too wide a net will overload you with resumes, most of which won’t be a great fit. Be strategic or consider using an applicant tracking system to help you screen resumes and automate part of the process.

Invite your top candidates to interview

Once you receive applications, make an effort to narrow down your top 10 candidates. Most merchants perform an initial phone screen with their best three to five candidates to make sure each person is still interested, and they are who they say they are.

Plan second-round interviews with your most qualified prospects. You may need to move down your list of ten candidates more quickly than expected depending on interest and availability. But, as you go, notify the applicants who you are not inviting for an interview that they won’t be proceeding to the next phase.

Second-round interviews need to go more in-depth than your phone screen. Pose questions that get at your candidate’s work style and assess whether they have the right attitude to join your team. Then, move quickly on your top candidate.

Make an offer

If you’re ready to greenlight one of your prospective applicants, make them a written job offer. In some industries, it’s also important to perform background and reference checks. Make the offer contingent on those checks coming back clean if you wish to do your due diligence. Negotiate the salary, benefits, and start date, and then prepare to welcome your new employee with training and onboarding!

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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