Surviving the 13 Stages of the Hiring Process

A businessman calls for help as he is covered by a pile of papers.

It’s every manager’s nightmare: You’ve finally assembled your dream team, and your senior accountant tells you she’s leaving to go “off the grid” with the guy she met at Burning Man. Now, the hiring process begins. You’re looking to find a superstar — but the applicants you’ve seen would make better “SNL” cast members than contributors to your team.

Sometimes, it seems like the old saying, “What can go wrong will go wrong” is at work whenever you approach the hiring process.

But take heart. You’ll survive. In the meantime, have a chuckle at the all-too-common hiring process scenarios below.

What the hiring process can feel like

1. When you ask human resources for a requisition to hire, and you’re given a stack of forms to fill out that rivals “War and Peace” in size.


2. When you’re trying to write the job description, and you end up staring at a blank computer screen for an hour.


3. When you finally draft the perfect job description, and your computer freezes.


Learn how to write the ultimate job description with our free tip sheet.

4. When you successfully upload your job posting to several job boards, and you suddenly realize you’ve left out a letter in your email address.


5. When the first resume arrives, and it’s from your boss’s daughter.


6. When the best resume you get is from Barry in the mailroom — and it’s handwritten.


7. When you schedule your first interview, and the candidate arrives wearing flip-flops.


Get tips for conducting effective interviews and learn what questions to ask job candidates.

8. When HR tells you that you have one week to find a candidate, or the budget for the open position will be reassigned to another department.


9. When you finally find a candidate you like, and she tells you she wouldn’t be able to start until after her three-month backpacking trip across the U.S.


10. When you start checking references for your top choice, and the first person you call says, “I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of that person before.”


Learn why you should always check references and how to do it right.

11. When you’ve offered the job to your top prospect, and he tells you he just joined your competitor.


12. When you think the hiring process is just about over, and you lose your candidate because salary negotiations broke down.


13. When you find and hire the perfect addition to your dream team, and you do your happy dance.


Tips for surviving the hiring process

Anything can happen during the hiring process, of course. But you’re less likely to run into frustrations like those above if you follow the tips below:

Start now

The hiring process should start before you need to staff an open position. Skilled workers are in demand today, and having a system in place allows you to hit the ground running ASAP so you don’t lose any time in what could be a longer search than you realize.

Having focused hiring criteria clearly mapped out ahead of time also enables you to objectively evaluate candidates, making it more likely you’ll find the right person for the job.

Download Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report to gain insight into current employment trends that could impact your hiring efforts.

Get the job description right

A key part of the hiring process is crafting the perfect job description. Why is that important at this stage of the game? Because the job posting will be based on it.

Don’t rely on an old description (or posting) that might not reflect the company’s current needs. A posting that accurately details job qualifications, responsibilities and expectations will serve multiple purposes:

  • Discourage applicants lacking the necessary skills from applying and wasting your time
  • Help you objectively assess candidates
  • Provide a tool for the performance evaluation down the road

Pursue multiple avenues

Don’t just advertise the position on your company website and job boards. Give serious consideration to other ways of attracting the interest of skilled candidates. Other options include engaging a staffing agency, recruiting internally and soliciting employee referrals.

Learn how staffing and recruitment agencies can help you save time and money during the hiring process.

Put your best foot forward

Don’t forget that your hiring process affects your company’s reputation. Pay attention to the impression your firm’s website projects and how job candidates are treated when they interact with your staff. You don’t want a job seeker to pass you by for looking unprofessional.

Look closely at the resumes you receive

Once you begin to receive responses to your job ad, be alert to resume red flags. One trick is to start reading a resume at the end first, where applicants often bury problematic facts about their work history or skills. Be on the lookout for too-frequent job hoppers, inexplicable gaps in employment, and vague wording such as familiar with and involved in.

Be thorough but move quickly

The cost of a bad hire is greater than ever, so take the time necessary to thoroughly assess whether a candidate is a fit for the job and your work environment.

On the other hand, don’t delay too long in making the job offer. Doing so could cause you to lose out on your preferred candidate, which means the hiring process will have to start all over again, jeopardizing customer service levels and causing the rest of your staff to continue being overworked.

Always check references

Reference checking is critical. It may be tough to get a candid reference from a former employer, but don’t let that tempt you to skip this step of the hiring process. Let the candidate know you will be checking references.

Hint: Finding out from the applicant what a former boss is likely to say about her can give you some openers when you contact her previous supervisor.

Know how to negotiate

After you’ve presented an offer, be prepared to engage in salary negotiation, but know when to walk away. Consider: Are there other qualified candidates? Has the job been difficult to fill? Is the salary she is requesting out of line with her peers?

And be creative: Robert Half research shows that a majority of workers consider skill growth when making a career move, and many feel that job perks are on the table.

Prepare yourself for salary negotiations by downloading Robert Half’s Salary Guides, which include starting salary ranges for hundreds of positions.

Don’t let the candidate go

Once you’ve made your offer, stay in touch with the job candidate. A lot can happen in two or three weeks, before your new hire’s start date. Regular communication will assure her that you’re excited to bring her on board, and she’ll be more confident in her decision.

Need help improving your hiring process? Contact Robert Half. We’ve been finding skilled professionals for businesses like yours since 1948.


Call us at 1.877.626.4189


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