In the SCORE online workshop, “Hiring the Right Employee,” Tricia McLaurin, Senior Human Resources Representative at Paychex, Inc. explains the best practices of recruiting, interviewing, selecting and retaining your most valuable assets: your employees.

The Society of Human Resource Management suggests that “direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary.” This statistic emphasizes the importance of finding and retaining the right member of your team. McLaurin says, “The bottom line can be negatively affected by bad hires and employee turnover.”

Follow these three steps to clarify the importance of hiring a new employee:

  1. Identification. Don’t just say you need help. Be specific and ask yourself what kind of help? What is the role of the position and its impact on the organization? How would this position benefit the company?
  2. Actual need. What job tasks need to be accomplished? What skills are required?
  3. Definition.  Define the position not the kind of person you visualize doing the job. This is not about replacing the person currently in the position but finding someone who can fulfill the job’s duties and company needs.

Writing a job description will help you establish the position’s details. Use descriptive and objective language. Be clear of expectations and concrete deliverables. Determine the essential and secondary functions. Verify that your language is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. You also must remove all discriminatory language. A SCORE mentor can help you with appropriate wording.

Job descriptions can also list soft skill requirements, like the ability to work in a team, time management, strong communication skills, etc.

How do you find the right candidate?

Once you know the specifics of the position, it’s time to advertise. McLaurin explains that attracting your target audience can be challenging. This is the first time in history five generations are in the workforce: Silent traditionalists (ages 65 and older), Baby boomers (ages 45 to 64), Generation X (ages 30 to 44), Millennials (ages 16-29) and Digital Natives (ages 15 and younger.)

Each person uses different techniques in their job hunt, so your goal is to attract as many candidates as possible with different advertising outlets. Remember that the best employee might not look like the person you thought you would hire.

McLaurin recommends using a job application. This way you request the same basic information from all applicants. Candidates can also submit resumes to provide additional details such as employment gaps and previous job duties.

Interview Process

McLaurin recommends a two-step process of interviewing: the phone interview and, when needed, the face-to-face meeting. For phone interviews, prepare four or five objective questions and document the responses. Consistency of questions between applicants helps in making the final decision. You can often learn more about soft skills and personality through open-ended questions. For instance, you can ask “What was your biggest challenge?” or “How did you deal with an irate customer or client?”  These questions can indicate problem-solving and leadership skills.

Making the Job Offer

Once you’ve found the best candidate, send a letter which confirms the details of employment, such as job description, hourly pay rate or salary, benefit and vacation information. Include an “at-will” employee clause which should also appear in the employee handbook.

On the employee’s first day, introduce him/her to the people, things, procedures and processes required for the job. He/she should complete new hire paperwork such as I-9’s and benefit enrollment forms. Review the job description and employee handbook. Discuss opportunities for continual education such training and seminars, and how you want to see your newest team member to evolve.

Watch the full online workshop: “Hiring the Right Employee.” Connect with a SCORE mentor with any HR questions and get more HR tips for small businesses.

About the Author(s)

Bridget Weston Pollack

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications, SCORE