A hiring process is a structured approach to help you find, assess, and hire new members of your team. While it’s not often something we consciously build, an effective hiring process makes it easy to collaborate with stakeholders like human resources and your interview panel. Plus, it helps you check off every box and hire the best possible candidates. Learn the ins and outs of hiring, then get started with 11 concrete steps.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your team. Hiring great people takes time, but it’s worth it because your team members are the driving force behind everything you accomplish. To accomplish big goals, you need a solid team. And to build your team, you need a well-planned hiring process.
A hiring process is a structured approach to find, assess, and hire new members of your team. It’s a standardized set of steps you follow every time you want to hire a new employee—whether you’re backfilling an existing role or adding a new role to your team. And while hiring can often feel urgent (especially when you’re understaffed or need to backfill a role), it’s worth it to set up a hiring process before you kick things off. With some extra time up front, you can save yourself even more time and hassle in the future.Get the City of Providence's recruiting pipeline template
Hiring is usually a cross-functional process. It involves working with stakeholders like recruiters and your human resources team, plus any coworkers that will help interview potential candidates. Hiring is also customizable depending on who you’re hiring and what resources you have available. For example, hiring a software engineer requires different steps than hiring a clinical therapist. Or, hiring responsibilities may be different at smaller companies with no HR team.
But if you’re not sure where to start or if wrangling stakeholders isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry. A standardized hiring process makes collaboration easy. Once you figure out what works for you and document each step, you’ll have a roadmap to follow—so you know exactly what to do and who to talk to every time you want to hire someone new.
A hiring process and onboarding process are equally important when you’re adding new members to your team. However, they’re two separate stages you need to complete.
Before you can onboard new team members, you need to hire them. That means your hiring process includes identifying job requirements, sourcing qualified candidates, interviewing, and extending a final offer. Along with those bigger steps, your hiring process also includes details like who communicates with candidates and how you should evaluate each applicant. Simply put, hiring includes everything up until a candidate accepts your offer.
Onboarding starts after a candidate signs your offer letter. That’s when you start to welcome your new hire and bring them up to speed. Surprisingly, some critical onboarding steps often happen before an employee’s first day—like making sure your team member has a laptop and office access badge, or sending them a first-day email so they know what to expect. After an employee officially starts, onboarding continues as employees learn about your organizational culture, get to know their teammates, and learn about the tools and processes they need for their role.
A structured hiring process doesn’t just make your life easier—it also helps your stakeholders and potential candidates. Here’s how:
Candidate experience is a key component of your company culture. According to a study, 78% of candidates say their interviewing and hiring experience indicates how a company values its people. That means it’s essential to put your best foot forward during the hiring process, because that’s when potential employees form their first impressions.
A hiring process gives each candidate a consistent experience and helps you provide the right information at the right time. When you have a predefined hiring process, you can tell candidates what next steps look like and how long each step might take, so they’re not left wondering where they stand or what to do during downtime. You can also build essential communications into your hiring process to ensure you’re not missing any steps—like sending candidates the information they need to prepare for interviews or sending follow-up emails to let people know when you’ve hired a different candidate.
Unconscious biases are learned assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes that we aren’t necessarily aware of. They’re also a normal part of being human—our brains process truckloads of information on a daily basis, so we sometimes take shortcuts. For example, we assume frost on our windshield means it’s cold outside, rush hour means lots of traffic, and the milk we just bought is safe to drink.
The examples above are pretty harmless, but our biases can also creep into the hiring process and influence who we choose for a specific role. For example, a Princeton University study showed that when symphonies started to hold blind auditions, female musicians were immediately 50% more likely to make it to the next round of the audition process. That means that when judges could see the gender of applicants, they were unconsciously biased towards male musicians.
But luckily, learning about unconscious bias can help you recognize when it’s happening and put active countermeasures into place. A structured hiring process helps you avoid unconscious bias by making you follow the same steps for every candidate. It lets you collect the same type of information for each applicant and make decisions based on data rather than the undefined idea of “culture fit.” For example, you can include a standard set of interview questions in your hiring process to ensure candidates are assessed equally in the same areas.
Hiring is a bit like speed dating. You and the applicant are both trying to decide if you want to pursue a long-term relationship—you’re trying to decide if the candidate is a good fit for your team, while they’re trying to figure out if they want to work at your company. It’s easy to rush this process and leave out key information that would help you both make the best decision. And when that happens, you might struggle with employee retention if new hires aren’t qualified for their role.
But when you follow a predefined hiring process, you can make sure both you and your candidates have all the information they need before a decision is made. A hiring process helps you build in key steps like an initial screening call, a take-home practical assessment, and structured interviews with plenty of time for questions. This gives you a robust set of information to consider for your final decision. And equally important, it gives candidates a clear picture of the day-to-day responsibilities of the role and what it would actually be like to work at your company.
Hiring usually involves working with multiple stakeholders—including recruiters, human resources, and any coworkers on your interview panel. Since different stakeholders need to be looped in at different parts of the process, it can be tough to coordinate all of the moving pieces. For example, the recruiting team might handle job postings and resume screening, the hiring manager might be responsible for scheduling onsite interviews, and members of your interview panel may be responsible for collecting and sharing their feedback for each candidate.
A structured hiring process gives you and your team a clear roadmap to follow. It tells you which stakeholders to loop in at every step, who’s responsible for each task, and how long each stage of your hiring process will take. To make things even easier, you can use a project management tool to plan and execute your hiring process. For example, Asana lets you create reusable templates that lay out each task within a process—including the task owner, due date, and any dependencies.
Hiring can seem daunting—especially with all the complexities of job postings, interviews, background checks, and more. But like many things, you can simplify the hiring process by breaking it down into a series of bite-sized steps. To get you started, we’ve listed 11 hiring process steps that most companies share. Once you run through these steps a few times, you can tailor them to your specific needs and resources.Get the City of Providence's recruiting pipeline template
Before you kick off the hiring process, you need to set clear objectives that outline what you’re looking for. Setting goals gives you a North Star to aim for as you recruit and assess applicants. It helps you write a job description that addresses the gap you’re trying to fill, evaluate candidates against your objectives, and manage the timeline for your hiring process. When you set your goal, just be sure it’s SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
To formulate your hiring goal, ask yourself the following questions:
Who is your ideal candidate?
What specific skills do they have?
What level of past experience do they have?
What hiring needs or gaps are you trying to fill with this role? For example, are you filling an open position, adding bandwidth to your team, or adding a new area of responsibility?
When do you need to fill this role? How long should the hiring process take?
Next, it’s time to identify the stakeholders you’ll collaborate with during the hiring process. This can vary from company to company, but these are the most common stakeholders to look out for:
Hiring manager: The person who will manage the new employee. The hiring manager often drives the hiring process and has the final say on which candidate is selected.
Human resources and recruitment team: Depending on the size of your company, recruiters may be responsible for job posting, outreach, initial screenings, scheduling interviews, and negotiating offers. At bigger companies, a recruiter may be your candidate’s main point of contact throughout the entire hiring process. At smaller companies, the hiring manager may be responsible for some or all of this work. If your company doesn’t have an in-house recruiting team, you may even outsource some steps to a recruiting agency.
Interview panel: These are the people who will interview each candidate. They can be potential teammates, cross-functional partners, or people with specific areas of expertise. For example, if you’re hiring someone who needs to have design expertise, you may want to include a product designer on your interview panel. Just be sure to give each panel member guidance on the type of questions they should ask—for example, specify that the product designer should ask specifically about the candidate’s design experience.
As you identify stakeholders, it can be helpful to create a RACI chart to outline who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed for each step of your hiring process.
A good job description (JD) is key if you want to attract quality candidates. Ultimately, the goal of your JD is to help potential candidates understand what a person in this role actually does on a day-to-day basis, so they can decide whether they want to apply. That means it’s important for your description to accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position.
While job descriptions can vary, here are some key components to include:
Job duties and responsibilities
Required qualifications (like education, experience, or skills)
Working conditions (like whether the role is remote or in-person and what hours the candidate is expected to work)
A salary range and list of benefits
You can also outline key aspects of your company culture in your JD. For example, at Asana we include a paragraph at the end of each job description to emphasize how we value inclusivity and welcome candidates from all backgrounds.
Now it’s time to put your job description to work. Finding great candidates can be tough, so companies often use a combination of advertising and active recruiting. If your company has a recruitment team, they typically handle both.
To advertise the position, first decide whether you want to recruit internally, externally, or a combination of the two. For example, you may want to advertise the position internally first, then open it up to external applicants. Job boards and posting sites like LinkedIn are a great place to start advertising externally, along with job fairs and your company website. You can also lean on your current employees to help advertise the position by offering referral bonuses.
To recruit for the position, you need to actively reach out to qualified candidates via LinkedIn, email, social media, or job fairs. The recruitment process helps generate applications from potential candidates who aren’t actively searching but might be a good fit.
At this point, you should have a solid batch of resumes and cover letters to review. Take some time to review each application and decide which candidates meet the required qualifications listed in your job description. Try to stick to hard skills and concrete experience at this stage, since it’s tough to get a sense of soft skills from a resume. You can also build in guidelines to help combat unconscious bias as you review. For example, you could hide the applicant name to reduce gender or racial bias, or focus on relevant experience instead of years in the workforce to prevent age discrimination.
At some companies with high application volumes, recruiters on your human resources team will prepare a batch of pre-screened resumes for you to look through. Your company may also use an applicant tracking system like Greenhouse, Workday, or ADP to store and organize job applications and contact information.Read: The difference between hard skills and soft skills: Examples from 14 Asana team members
A phone screen is your initial contact with a candidate—typically done over (you guessed it) the phone. The goal of a phone interview is two-fold. First, you want to determine whether the candidate has the required qualifications and aligns with your organizational culture and company values. Second, you want to give the applicant time to ask questions. Remember they’re also deciding if they want to work on your team.
If you’re partnering with a recruiting team, they might conduct an initial phone screen first to verify the candidate’s eligibility and make sure they’re really interested in the role before passing things to you for a more in-depth conversation.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some example phone interview questions:
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What motivates you? What did you have for breakfast?
Why does this job appeal to you?
Walk me through your resume. Tell me about the accomplishments you’re most proud of for each of your roles.
What would an ideal team setup look like for you?
What type of collaboration do you prefer?
What do you need from your manager and your team in order to feel successful?
What questions do you have for me?
It’s tough to demonstrate hard skills during an interview. That’s why a skills assessment is important for roles that focus heavily on hard skills like writing, data analysis, or programming. For roles that emphasize soft skills instead (like customer service), you may not need this step.
Your skills assessment can be a take-home assignment, a timed online assessment, or even an in-person test. For example, you could create a take-home writing assignment for a copywriter candidate or a timed online coding exercise for a developer candidate. For senior positions or roles that involve lots of cross-functional collaboration, the assessment is often a presentation. In this case, you can ask the candidate to present on a project they worked on—leaving time at the end for a panel of stakeholders to ask questions.
Regardless of the format you choose, a skills assessment is the best way to see a candidate’s experience and skills in action.
On-site interviews involve a lot of moving pieces. But if you iron out a few key details first, you can organize every moving part and make your interview process as smooth as possible for everyone.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you plan on-site job interviews:
A candidate’s on-site interviews are often formatted as 1:1 meetings with each member of the interview panel. That said, you can also schedule group interviews with panel members who have similar expertise. You can even hold larger interviews with an entire team—but since this format can be intimidating, it’s best used when you’re trying to hire for management positions.
You also need to decide whether your on-site interviews will be virtual or in-person. If you opt for virtual, be sure to choose a video conferencing platform that’s easily accessible to people outside your company.
This depends on whether your interviews are virtual or in-person. Research shows that video fatigue sets in at the 30-minute mark for virtual meetings, meaning it becomes much harder to focus past that point. On the other hand, we can usually maintain focus for 45 to 60 minutes when we’re talking face-to-face.
It’s usually more convenient to schedule a candidate's interviews in back-to-back blocks. This means the candidate only has to visit your office once if your interviews are in person. On the flip side, you might want to break interviews up over two days for virtual on-sites to avoid video fatigue. For example, you could schedule two 90-minute interview blocks during the same week. If you schedule interviews back-to-back, make sure to build in five-minute breaks between meetings so the candidate can get up, stretch, or use the restroom.
Being well-prepared shows that you value your candidate’s time and helps you collect better feedback. Here’s how to help your interview panel prepare and set them up for success:
First, make sure each interview understands what competencies they’re evaluating for. For example, a designer interviewing a design candidate should ask more technical questions, while a cross-functional stakeholder should ask about collaboration and how the candidate works with non-design team members.
Ask each interviewer to come up with questions beforehand. This not only ensures that they’re prepared, but also helps reduce bias.
If there’s anyone on your panel who hasn’t participated in an interview process before, see if your HR department offers training sessions for first-time interviewers.
It’s equally important to make sure your candidate feels prepared for their on-site interviews. Before the onsite, be sure to let them know the following:
The date and time of each interview, including when they should arrive if they’re visiting your office in person.
How to access your office—for example, will you meet them in the lobby or should they check in at the reception desk? For virtual interviews, provide instructions on how to access video conferencing links.
Who they’ll be meeting with, including each interviewer’s name and title. It’s also helpful to provide an overview of each person’s area of expertise so the candidate can prepare questions in advance.
Any relevant additional information—for example, if your office is especially laid-back you can let them know they don’t have to wear business casual attire.
For virtual interviews, it can be helpful to schedule a quick 10-minute meeting with a recruiter or someone on IT before the on-site interviews start. During this time, the candidate can troubleshoot any tech issues that might come up.
Now that you’ve interviewed the best candidates, it’s time to make a decision. This involves reviewing all of the feedback from your interview panel, either asynchronously or during an in-person meeting. Ultimately the hiring manager decides who to move forward with, but they should consider the input from each panel member.
If you’re torn between two or three equally qualified candidates, try creating a decision matrix to structure your comparison and make an evidence-based choice.Read: The ladder of inference: How to avoid assumptions and make better decisions
At long last, you’ve decided who to hire! But before you extend an official offer, it’s important to run a background and reference check. Here’s what each entails:
A background check usually involves working with a background check agency to verify details on the candidate’s job application, like their employment history, education, and any criminal history.
A reference check involves calling each of your candidates references, which are typically former coworkers or managers. Usually the hiring manager or recruiter does this step, and the goal is to double check that the candidate meets your hiring criteria—plus see if there are any red flags you may have missed.
Finally, it’s time to make an official job offer. If you’re partnering with a recruiter, they typically make the initial offer and handle any negotiations. But regardless of who’s responsible, here are some things to keep in mind:
Once you finish negotiations, send an official offer of employment in writing. A verbal offer and acceptance isn’t binding like a formal written offer.
Let the candidate know how long they have to make a decision.
Once they’ve accepted the offer (fingers crossed), make sure to let other candidates know that the position is closed.
Congratulations, you have a brand new hire! Now you can kick off your onboarding process and make sure your team member is set up for success in their new job.
Like hiring, it’s important to have a standardized onboarding process. To build your own, check out our employee onboarding template—plus articles on how to create the ultimate onboarding process and overcome common remote onboarding challenges.Free employee onboarding template