21 Questions to Rate Your Hiring Process

21 Questions to Rate Your Hiring Process

It’s a candidates’ market … 50-90% of small businesses report “few or no qualified applicants” apply to their advertising [NFIB December 2018].

Yes we get it– highest employment in the US in decades, lowest unemployment rates, 30 million shortage in skilled workers.

That means that you have to adapt to the current economic realities AND compete with larger employers with your hiring practices. 

It is highly likely that your recruiting and selection process is not adapted to the attract and convert many potential applicants into a few qualified candidates.

Here are 21 questions you can use to compare your hiring process to the best practices of mid-size and big employers:

Quick Self Review of Your Recruiting & Selection System [hint, the best answer is YES to every one]

  1. We have 10+ qualified applicants when we run post a job
  2. We continually recruit for entry job to build a future bench
  3. We have tried all the free and low-cost job boards that are relevant to our industry/ area
  4. Our job postings include minimum qualifications and appealing / realistic details about the job and company
  5. We direct job postings to a single Jobs page that shows our key job roles, company info, and starts the application process
  6. Applications are saved to a central folder, archived for 2 years
  7. We track the source of applicants and evaluate cost vs value
  8. We have a simple way to track each applicant and their last stage in the selection process
  9. We easily screen out unqualified or low-interest applicants
  10. Our administrative team is responsible for initial candidate communication and screening based on establish criteria and respond promptly to applicants and inquiries
  11. We have a short online application for people without a resume or for a “quick application” with further info requests
  12. We have a single “jobs” email for inbound and outbound candidate communication
  13. We have standard candidate communication templates based on the stage in the selection process
  14. We contact candidates for a consistent phone interview prior to inviting to a personal / first interview
  15. We have a simple skill test that is easy to administer in the application process before first interview
  16. We have standard and competency-based interview questions prepared for the first interview and spend at least 60 minutes with qualified candidates
  17. When relevant for the job, we conduct a criminal background check, drug screen or medical exam
  18. We have qualified candidates to do a “realistic job preview” with another employee, or demonstration / role play
  19. We ask candidates to set up 3 references calls to contacts at work numbers
  20. We use personality / attitude assessments to determine job fit
  21. The future manager is involved in the final selection process

If you need qualified People to maintain and grow your business in — you need to adapt quickly in this new hiring environment.

The companies with 100+ employees have the HR team and time to devote to poaching your employees as well as finding qualified applicants. 

11 Common mistakes in your recruiting practices

11 Common mistakes in your recruiting practices

  1. Description is too short or BORING– if it sounds corporate or not interesting most people will not apply
  2. Not tracking and evaluating your results (such as measuring your cost per application /candidate by paid advertising source)
  3. Posting your jobs with the same ad at the same sites as you did last year (without researching the “competition” and updating the title/ description to be found and stand out)
  4. Using national job posting sites when a local site might provide fewer better applicants
  5. Sending applications to a specific person’s email (less professional and easy to get lost or have a slow response)
  6. Providing limited or no information about your company (except “good pay and benefits”)
  7. Including qualifications that are nice to have but not essential (degrees, certifications, specific/ industry experience, provide their own tools, work Saturdays)
  8. Sending applicants to an initial application method that takes more than 3 minutes and is easy to do on a phone (on paper, too long, multiple clicks to start the application, confusing or just plain ugly)
  9. Not responding immediately with an email confirmation that includes more details about the job and company
  10.  Being satisfied with less than 10 applicants worth a call when you post a job
  11.  Treating recruiting like an event and running an “ad” when someone quits, rather than running continual advertisements in your proven sites year-round to build a “virtual bench”

Ideally you should conduct a “user experience” audit at least every 6 months or when you have a key position to fill.

Click through all the pages and fill out the forms and see what works great, what is broken, what is frustrating, and think about the messages you are sending to prospective candidates.

With such a tight labor market, you can’t afford to alienate the good prospects.

If you need qualified People to maintain and grow your business in 2019– you need to believe that applicants are your “customer” too and market your job opportunites with as much effort as you do your customer sales process.

Ideally you should conduct a “user experience” audit at least every 6 months or when you have a key position to fill.

Click through all the pages and fill out the forms and see what works great, what is broken, what is frustrating, and think about the messages you are sending to prospective candidates. 

With such a tight labor market, you can’t afford to alienate the good prospects.

If you need qualified People to maintain and grow your business in 2019– you need to believe that applicants are your “customer” too and market your job opportunities with as much effort as you do your customer sales process.

Where have all the Candidates gone?

Where have all the Candidates gone?

Scary statistic– according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.5 unemployed per every 1 job opening.

Now you know why you are getting a trickle of applicants to your job postings, and why you “can’t find good people.”

When the economy really heats up, this situation will be even worse.

So how can a small employer attract and convince top candidates to join your team?

The Answer:
The answer is that you will need to turn your recruiting and selection process into a well-oiled machine.

  • Continually source a flood of applicants, appealing to those that are attracted to your culture and opportunities.
  • Find and woo the “passive” candidates who are already employed but not “loving it” at their current job.
  • And then you need to be super-selective in who you let join your team (remember the rotten apple effect).

The Roadblocks:

Most small business managers dread having to hire someone new…

  • It’s time consuming, frustrating trying to find enough qualified applicants, and there is time pressure to fill a role as work piles up.
  • You don’t have extra time to spend getting to know your candidates so you rush though the interviews.
  • You typically find the “last (wo)man standing” and make an offer. Then you wonder if you are making the best choice.
  • Or even worse, the candidate declines the offer and you are back to the beginning. [Ouch!]

The Solution:

Mid-sized and large employers solve this with an ongoing recruiting “funnel” and automated screening and a rigorous selection process, using modern online tools.

  • They approach hiring as they do sales…
  • They identify the ideal prospect,
  • market to them with an Employer Brand and enticing offers,
  • and then have a system to decide if there is a good match to work together.

If you want an automated selection process that makes your job roles stand out, here are resources to assist you:


Recruiting is a process, not an event. It must be ongoing and continuous. Can you imagine only going after a new customer when you lose an existing one?” Jack Daly

Beggars can’t be choosers

Beggars can’t be choosers

Really- why not?

I hear this phrase far too often from managers who are now urgently rushing to fill an open position. Perhaps someone quit on short notice, or an employee on leave decided not to come back. Or you had to take decisive action to terminate an employee whose behavior warranted such a quick outcome.

Moral of the story? Here you are scrambling to find “someone good” on short notice.

And everyone on your team is feeling the pain, because they are picking up the workload for the missing person, most likely doing tasks that are unfamiliar or not in their area of expertise.

What does the team want? A new, awesome, fabulous team mate (who needs no training) – and make it quick! Can she start tomorrow?

Despite the apparent urgency of the situation, you know what I am going to tell you next….

“Take your time to find the right person.”

In the midst of your crisis, pause, take a breath, and met me remind you what is at stake

Hiring an A player may take a few more weeks of recruiting, more focused and stringent selection, and passing up on “good enough” candidates who can start tomorrow. But that A Player who starts in 4 weeks will likely learn the job more quickly, be an asset to the team right away, and be performing at a higher level in six months.

Rushing to settle for a C player (usually a perfectly nice person who was a decent performer at a prior job, but NOT a fit for your job) means a few weeks saved now, and hundreds of hours lost later.

C Player’s are estimated to take 25% of a managers time—the one or two people on your team who struggle with the job knowledge, performance expectations, or do not match the attitude and culture you need can suck 10 hours a week!

Do the math- 10-20 hours now versus 500 hours next year … and that does not count the actual and opportunity cost of lower quality or service, slow processes, lost sales, unhappy customers, unhappy co-workers, and unhappy managers.

You are not a beggar, and you can be choosy! Only settle for A Players with a 90% chance of success.

There are fabulous candidates out there—but you have to cast a wider net, be more selective and systematic in your selection, and wait until you have found “the one.”

Learn more: 

Read our articles on “selection” to find out more about what you can do to evaluate and validate your candidate’s job fit.

Read our article about how to always be scouting for talent and building a virtual bench, so that you are not scrambling for applicants next time!


Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

64% more sales? What difference does one person make?

64% more sales? What difference does one person make?


I have always been an advocate for finding and rewarding a great employee. As the People consultant who I worked with years ago was fond of saying, “it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.”

And I have examples from personal experience in my family business and at clients who found that the right person can make a huge impact on the work environment, productivity, sales and ultimately profit.

But I want to share an astounding story related recently by a woman entrepreneur who is in one of my business groups.

For months, she was frustrated with the results of the manager in her production operation.

Her business coach continued to advise her to recruit and select another manager, but as we all know, recruiting and selection is TIME CONSUMING. And you worry that the person you finally hire may not be any better than the person you have. And then you have to spend time training the new person…. And the list goes on, so we stall and don’t go looking for the Ideal.

At some point she decided that maybe she would at least look for another candidate, so created a profile of the ideal candidate (Lesson 1– do this before recruiting so that you are attracting the Ideal Candidate).

Then she made a list of the job performance results she really needed, key skills and competencies of an ideal production manager. She said that when she systematically wrote this out, it was not what she was originally thought she needed! (Lesson 2 by systematic and clear about your Ideal Candidate.)

Then she placed a local advertisement describing the ideal candidate and the very detailed position requirements and results.

Who applied?- an applicant who was working at a similar larger production facility that had just closed. She interviewed this candidate and found out that he had the industry skills and knowledge, but more importantly management and leadership skills. After a thorough selection process, she was confident this candidate had a good probability of being an A player. (Lesson 3– Validate, don’t just take someone’s word for their capabilities after one interview.)

Fast forward one month after he started to this business results:

  • the crew increased from 55% productivity (plus overtime to get orders out) to 100% productivity with no overtime
  • the process was running so smoothly the backlog of 2 weeks to get orders shipped dropped to 2 days
  • because she was able to contact customers (instead of putting out fires in the production and shipping area) she sold 64% more sales that month!

And how much more did she pay this new manager? The same as the prior one. Even if he wanted 15% more base pay —would he have been worth it? (Did I mention 64% more sales?)

Lesson 4– So you say you don’t have time to find an A player, and you can’t afford one? What would 10% more productivity or sales do for your profit this year?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net