5 Ways to Streamline Your Small Business Hiring Process

  •  01/30/2019
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Compliance , Criminal Background , Employer , How-to articles

Hiring new employees can be incredibly exciting. It means business is booming, your team is growing, and new people are coming on board to help drive your small business’s success even further. At the same time, the hiring process can be rather stressful. It takes time to craft an attractive job description, pool applicants, schedule interviews, negotiate offers, go through onboarding and training… the laundry list goes on.

As a small business owner, you wear a variety of hats—your time is consumed with day-to-day work, and you likely don’t have a surplus of hours to spend vetting job applicants. Streamlining your hiring process can help to ease any anxiety that comes with hiring tasks, letting you get back to the job at hand.

Looking for ways to streamline your small business’s hiring process? You’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve compiled five ways for small business owners to turn their hiring process into a more efficient, less stressful operation.

1. Find the right candidates

Hiring the best people for your business needs starts with attracting the right candidates in the most efficient way. Before you go crazy on the classifieds, take the time to consider whether you actually need to hire more people. Just because profits are rising and you can afford to hire an employee doesn’t mean that you should.

Be absolutely sure that you need a new employee

As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably worked incredibly hard to get your small business up and running—and likely feel eager for extra help and a few more hours of sleep. Nonetheless, remind yourself how incredibly costly it is to commit to an employee’s salary and benefits.

Do you really need to bring on new hires? Many services that you might need help with—including marketing, public relations, web design, accounting, manufacturing, and more—can be outsourced at a much cheaper rate than an in-house hire. You can also hire freelancers on a short term contract to perform odd end jobs versus a regular hourly or salaried employee.

If you’ve crunched the numbers and decided you need the in-house help, then keep in mind that firing someone can be just as expensive as hiring someone. According to a study conducted by the it costs a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her.

it can be very costly to replace an employee

That’s no small number, and it makes finding the right applicants—and hiring the best of the batch—essential for any business.

Where to Find Job Candidates

Your small business might not be able to afford a professional recruiter, therefore you should consider DIY recruitment methods instead.  Below are a few examples of simple places to begin searching for potential job candidates.

Your network

One of the best places to find your next employee is to look within your own personal network.  Unlike large companies with a well-known brand and big budgets to recruit candidates, small businesses need to be nimble. You know the age-old phrase: “It’s all about who you know.”

That’s true of hiring processes. Leveraging your contacts can help place great people in your company’s open positions. Someone in your network may be able to help you fill an open role or know of a person looking to make a career move. Reach out in person, through a professional social media site such a LinkedIn, via email, or even over the phone.

If you are a part of an industry group or local trade organization, then be sure to leverage those contacts to help you find talent.  While posting the job online is important, you should work in tandem by reaching out to your peers, business partners and other professional contacts to find possible candidates.

Not yet a part of such groups? There’s no time like the present to join one. Networking with like-minded individuals and industry colleagues is a great way to enhance your own knowledge—and set you up for hiring success.

Consider Referrals

How else do you find great candidates? Employee referrals can yield trustworthy recommendations while also instilling responsibility in the existing staff member who brings them on. Don’t forget about internal promotions as well; they establish potential for upward mobility which may in turn inspire your employees to work harder, for longer.

Post online

Some of the top websites to post your job listing on include:

This list includes free classified sites, which are budget-friendly recruitment methods, in addition to subscription-based sites. While you might have to pay a small fee on the latter options, they’re a great way to attract a more serious batch of applicants.

Write a Great Job Description

Online ads are a great tool for casting a large net to find candidates, but make sure your post features a thorough and well-written job description. Having a vague job post can lead to your email inbox becoming inundated with unqualified inquiries or cause you to waste time interviewing candidates who were unsure about the job particulars.

Within the job post, be sure to include:

  • Information on the company such as its goals.
  • A brief description of the ideal candidate
  • Hard and soft qualifications required
  • Expected skills and daily requirements of the role
  • How to apply
  • Whether a cover letter and/or references are required.

Narrowing your parameters early on will save you from a world of trouble later.

Pro Tip: Save every job description for each of your company’s roles to shave off time from your hiring process in the future.

2. Automate wherever possible

Small business owners are pressed for time. Either you have an existing small staff, or it’s just yourself with a million things to do. To streamline your hiring processes, you should consider whether automated technology could help you.

Below are a few examples of how you can automate and streamline your small business hiring processes:

  • Online applications that ask for written responses in key areas: You can quickly create an online application form with Google Forms. Ask a few questions to help you hone in on the best candidates before inviting them in for an interview. Each question should correspond to a must-have qualification required for the role in question. Pro Tip: Create a form that can be completed within 15 to 45 minutes.

  • Assessments or quizzes: Ask your applicant to complete a job-specific assessment or quiz to prove their aptitude. This step ensures you weed out applicants that may have exaggerated their abilities on a resume, and allows you to see the applicant’s capabilities immediately. In some circumstances, you could deliver a small case study, mathematical equation, or “what if” scenario based on the open position.

  • Scheduling interviews: Making appointments with potential hires can be more time-consuming than anticipated. Use a scheduling tool like Calendly to streamline the scheduling process; put your availability preferences into the app, share your Calendly link with your applicants, and let them pick a time that works best for them. The appointment will automatically be added to the calendar with which you’ve integrated.

  • Pre-employment screening: Once you’ve identified the right candidate, this step is crucial. If you want to hire your next employee with confidence, pre-employment screening is a must. Running an employee background check will give you the insight to information you may not have otherwise known and could potentially save you time and money..

However, traditional background checks can take weeks to complete, leaving you in an unwanted waiting game. Online pre-employment screening solutions from ShareAble for Hires can be completed all online with reports delivered within a matter of minutes. Because you get the information you need quickly, you’re able to make your hiring decision faster with better peace of mind over your new employee.

3. Use knockouts

Once applications come pouring in, you can begin the process of filtering piles of resumes using the knockout method.

A knockout is a streamlined hiring step in which candidates are “knocked out” or disqualified for failing to meet a pass/fail barrier. Establish predetermined minimum qualifications required for the role (such as education and experience level), filter through applications, and objectively eliminate any candidate who’s unqualified.

Although these qualifications should be included in your job description, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every applicant meets your criteria therefore you can’t just assume they check all the right boxes. Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for applicants to “fluff up” their resume (making employment background checks even more important), so be sure to verify this information later on.

4. Interview the candidates

Once you have identified a strong candidate, then it is time to schedule a phone interview to verify key information and to get an overall feel for the candidate.  The idea of a phone interview is to avoid bringing in a candidate to meet in person that is an obvious “no”.  Make the conversation relatively short (15-20 minutes) and discover key facts quickly to weed out definite no’s. Have a list of questions already prepared before hopping on the phone, and take notes during the conversation to refer to later, if needed. Scheduling phone calls with candidates allows you to thin down the applicant pool before bringing in anyone for an in-person meeting.

After you schedule an in-person interview with a promising applicant, come up with a list of questions you could potentially ask.  Then print them out and distribute to a panel of two or three other people on the team with whom your potential hire would directly. If you’re not sure what to ask during the interview, the Balance offers a great list of sample panel questions you can use for inspiration.

panel interviews

Implement Panel Interviews

Setting up a day for your candidate to speak to multiple interviewees, either together or in a group setting, offers multiple benefits for a streamlined hiring process:

  • Scheduling an interview at the same time or on the same day frees up calendar space for busy managers. Holding an interview with all the necessary parties at once, instead of inviting your candidate back for a second or third round interview, can help to get your applicant evaluated and hired more quickly.

  • Conducting panel interviews can help reduce hiring risk, foster multiple points of view and more collaboration. For instance, one interviewee might catch something that another one did not, and it allows each person to play to their interview strengths.  In a small business, most departments are interconnected, and it’s essential that everyone is on the same page—and will get along with—the new hire.

  • Asking one of your entry-level employees to participate in the hiring process is wise. They’ll know how day-to-day work life actually looks and might be able to ask some valuable questions. Additionally, asking for their input will instill a sense of responsibility and may make them more invested in your small business’s success.

After the interview, take the time to contact your candidate’s references. Small businesses should gather at least three business references from an applicant, as talking to multiple people can provide a more comprehensive picture of your candidate’s past work behavior and general attitude.

5. Improve onboarding

Once you’ve found the right candidate, you may feel like you’re work is over—not quite. You need to onboard your new employee, which according to HROnboard can cost you an average of $400 per hire.

employee onboarding costs average $400 per hire

Take note:  That number doesn’t include recruitment and training costs, but instead refers to expenses relating to offer creation, time spent processing paperwork, material costs for welcome packs and contracts, plus administration time.

To streamline this hiring process, digitize your onboarding paperwork. There are plenty of HR software solutions that consolidate your administrative tasks into one system with self-access for employees, like Zoho People or BambooHR.

Ask your new hire to review these documents in advance so that their first day is spent learning the job, not filling out paperwork.

Why streamlining your hiring process is important

If you’ve never thought about making you’re your small business’s hiring process better or more efficient, consider these benefits:

  1. Time. Time is money, and streamlining a hiring process means finding a new hire faster, filling a role more quickly, and making more profit sooner.
  2. Without effective hiring processes, you might bring on the wrong hire and face higher employee turnover. This can cost between 100-300% of the base salary of the employee—which is no insignificant number for small business owners.
  3. You not only need to protect the success of your small business, but you also need to protect yourself from negligent hiring claims.

Remember: streamlining is not equivalent to rushing. Be sure to take the time to call and check references, and run a background check before issuing your job offer. Also, we’ve put together a hiring process checklist which can help remind you of important aspects to cover.

When time is of the essence to make your next hire, turn to ShareAble for Hires for expedited screening of job applicants. Our pre-employment screening services are tailored for small businesses. Signing up for an account is free, and you get immediate access to the screening tool which means you can start right away. Once your potential employee verifies their identification successfully, reports are delivered back to you within minutes, so you can make a hiring decision fast. ShareAble for Hires gives you the confidence you need to move forward with your new hire and get back to business.

Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.

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