How to Hire Employees: Define Your Hiring Selection Criteria

How to Hire Employees: Define Your Hiring Selection Criteria

This is the second post in our series: How to Hire Employees: The Ultimate GuideIn today’s post, we discuss how to create your selection criteria. This is one of the hiring process steps that is often overlooked. As with other components, the best practice is to create a standardized process and use it for each applicant.

How do you determine your hiring selection criteria?

Your screening criteria is the framework for evaluating and comparing applicants. It may include:

  • Resume review
  • Screening questionnaire
  • Prescreen phone call
  • Assessment
  • In-person or video interview
  • Social media review
  • Background check
  • Reference checks

Note that you can change the order or eliminate some elements. For example, some employers perform a reference check after extending the job offer.  And other recruiters talk to references before administering the assessment. Bottom line, build a recruitment process that works for your company, budget and hiring team.

Internal Hiring vs. Posting Publicly

Internal hiring makes sense in many situations. If you’ve been having trouble filling a position and have someone on staff with the necessary skills, for instance. Nevertheless, you’ll have to fill the internal hire’s original role. Another consideration is whether you are trying to increase diversity in your workforce. Internal hiring can reinforce the status quo.

Importantly, internal hiring is an essential part of a career advancement. Thus, you have to coordinate internal hiring with your career paths program as well as your hiring plan.

Who should be involved in the hiring decision process?

In addition to the hiring manager, who should have a say in which candidate is chosen? Some companies use outside recruiting firms. If you have a recruiter with a proven track record of finding star hires for your company, take their advice seriously. In addition, consider giving the new hire’s team a say in the selection. This can work as follows: have the team review the top three candidates (already approved by the hiring manager) and come to a consensus on which one to offer the job to.

Furthermore, some business owners (typically for smallish orgs) want to sign off on each hire. As mentioned, whichever plan you choose, document it and apply it consistently.

What is a screening questionnaire?

In this article, we focus on first-pass screening questionnaires. We discuss interviews, reference checks and background checks in subsequent articles.

A screening questionnaire is a first-pass filtering tool. It is used to isolate a subset of qualified candidates from the total applicant pool.

To create a screening questionnaire:

  1. Using the job description, identify the essential requirements and rank in order of importance
  2. Write a question for each of the selection criterion (skill, certification, years of experience, etc.)
  3. Determine the scoring system for the questions
  4. Organize questions and format in a document

Why does defining screening criteria come before posting the job? Once you begin the process, you are competing with other employers to find great candidates. Take the time up front so you don’t slow yourself down after the start.

Plus, you can still make changes to your job description if necessary because you haven’t already posted it. A good selection process requires a good job description. If you find yourself struggling to define your selection criteria, you probably need to go back improve your job description.

Write Your Screening Questions

As mentioned, you should have a list of job requirements from your job description. Now it’s time to write a question for each requirement. Remember, your job description splits skills into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” The “must-haves” are your essential, or key selection criteria. 

Skills Gap Analysis

A skills gap analysis can help you create a hiring plan and identify roles and responsibilities. If you do a skills gap analysis, use the findings to clarify job roles and the specific skills necessary.

Back to screening questions. You will probably need a question and answer for each requirement. The question should determine whether a candidate meets the requirement. Therefore, make it clear and concise with action verbs.

Types of screening questions:

  • Yes/No answer (binary choice, can be a knockout question)
  • Multiple Choice
    • Select one answer from multiple choices
    • Choose as many as desired from multiple choices
  • Essay

How do you choose which types of questions to use? The first consideration is the number of applications you expect to receive. If you are hiring for a niche, highly-skilled role and don’t expect to receive many applications, you might have time to read essay answers. Consider, though, if it would make more sense to discuss those questions and answers in the interview.

On the flip side, if you will be fielding hundreds of applications, you won’t have time to read essay questions. For high-volume hiring, consider automation. Inexpensive applicant tracking systems have templates for questionnaires. More importantly, they tally scores automatically. Therefore, in the candidate database, the highest scoring candidates will rise in the queue. If you use knockout questions, an ATS will mark eliminated candidates Do Not Pursue. Though you’ve eliminated them for the role to which they applied, you can keep them in your database in case you want to reach out to them in the future for another role that could be a better fit.

Clearly, spending time up front to create a thorough screening questionnaire will pay off by finding a qualified candidate more quickly than ever.

How does filtering automation save time?

It’s important to understand the order of operations. With an ATS, your application contains the filtering questionnaire. Therefore, applicants self-filter before you start reviewing  resumes and conducting interviews. Let’s do the math. Suppose your open position attracts 100 applicants. All of them complete the filtering questionnaire as part of the application process. Out of the 100, suppose 50 are knocked out because they lack the basic qualifications. If you generally take 5 minutes per resume when deciding which candidates to move to the next step, a filtering questionnaire saves you 250 minutes or a little over 4 hours. If you have 3 open positions simultaneously, that’s over 12 hours saved for just one step in the selection process.

Example Filtering Questions

Suppose you are hiring for a WordPress Web Developer. Let’s say your highest priority is whether the candidate has 4 years experience developing WordPress themes.

WordPress Web Developer Sample Filtering Questions

  • Do you have 4 years experience developing WordPress themes? Y N [KNOCKOUT]
    • If the applicant marks NO, they are knocked out of the applicant pool.
  • Do you have 4-6 years experience developing WordPress themes? Y N [2 POINTS]
  • Do you have 6-8 years experience developing WordPress themes? Y N [4 POINTS]
    • If the applicant answers YES, they receive extra points as indicated.
  • What is your salary requirement? [ESSAY or Y/N]
    • You can let the applicant enter an amount or list the maximum compensation budgeted and let the applicant mark Y or N regarding the amount.

Apply Scoring Criteria to Resumes

In addition to screening questionnaires, you can create scoring rules for resumes. For example, you can assign a numeric point value for skills, certifications or qualifications. Let’s say you’re hiring for a server in a restaurant. You could assign points for a valid food handler’s permit or number of years of experience.

Scoring Applicants

When the applications start coming in, you’ll need to score each one using your predefined criteria. You will calculate a total score for each applicant. This serves as a first pass assessment of the candidate’s match to the position. It will also eliminate applicants if you use knockout questions.

The mechanics of applicant management depend on whether you have a paper-based or digital process. If you accept paper applications, you can sort them in piles or folders by score. On the other hand, if you only accept digital applications, you can record scores in a spreadsheet. If you know how to create formulas in Microsoft Excel, you can let the spreadsheet tally scores.

Assessment Tools

Another option is to use professional assessment tools in the hiring process. If you have the budget, pre-employment assessments can save you a lot of time. Assessment tools not only measure aptitude and skills, they can predict how a candidate will perform in the position. There are hundreds of companies that create assessment software and tools–specializing in various job positions and industries. You can research them on Capterra, G2, or Software Advice.

Social Media Review

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of companies look at candidates’ social media pages as part of their evaluation process. It’s safe to assume that number has risen since the survey was conducted.

Should you check applicants’ social media profiles? Sure, you may be able to find out a lot of stuff that you can’t legally ask on an application or in an interview. But is that a good idea?

Recruiter and researcher Atta Tarki advises against the practice. After his team reviewed 266 U.S. job applicants’ social media sites, Tarki said:

“…a significant share of profiles contained details that companies may be legally prohibited from considering, including gender, race, and ethnicity (evident in 100% of profiles), disabilities (7%), pregnancy status (3%), sexual orientation (59%), political views (21%), and religious affiliation (41%). Many of the job seekers’ profiles also included information of potential concern to prospective employers: 51% of them contained profanity, 11% gave indications of gambling, 26% showed or referenced alcohol consumption, and 7% referenced drug use.” Stop Screening Job Candidates’ Social Media, Harvard Business Review, October 2021

Another member of the research team added:

“You can see why many recruiters love social media—it allows them to discover all the information they aren’t allowed to ask about during an interview, but that’s a problem, because one of the hallmarks of legal hiring practices is that they focus on behaviors within the work context. There should be a clear distinction between what people do during work and what they do outside of it.” Chad Van Iddekinge, Professor of Management, University of Iowa

Work Efficiently as a Team

Finding the top candidate is more likely when it’s a team effort. But don’t leave collaboration to chance. When building your hiring process, be proactive and intentional about collaboration. The hiring team should be involved in:

  • Creating a hiring plan
  • Mapping the hiring process
  • Writing the job description
  • Deciding where to post the job
  • Identifying the evaluation criteria
  • Designating roles and responsibilities
  • Evaluating the candidates
  • Interviewing the candidates
  • Extending the job offer to the top applicant

It bears repetition: an applicant tracking system can streamlines the entire process and help you ultimately find the right candidate. First of all, you can write and manage screening questionnaires in the system. Secondly, you can build workflow checklists to show where each applicant is in the process. Thirdly, you can assign tasks to team members (and set auto-reminders) so everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Finally, each member of the hiring team can add notes for all to see.

Crafting Your Applicant’s Journey

The applicant, or candidate journey, is the total experience for the job seeker, starting with the application and continuing through every touch point. The applicant journey reflects on your employer brand. For example, a confusing, disorganized process will give candidates the impression that your company is disorganized. In a tight labor market, you can’t afford to neglect the candidate journey if you want to compete for top talent.

How do you ensure a positive applicant journey?

Here are some tips:

  • Make your application process mobile-friendly and painless
  • Text or email your candidates frequently to keep them updated on their status
  • Make it easy to schedule an interview by texting the candidate a link to a shared calendar
  • Write interview scripts and ask the same questions of every candidate
  • Use applicant tracking software to make the hiring process as quick as possible

For more information on improving the applicant journey at your organization, see The Ideal Applicant Journey in 3 Steps: Use Hiring Psychology Like a Pro.

Let’s review where we are in the series:

How to Hire Employees: The Ultimate Guide

How to Hire Employees: The Ultimate Guide

At some point in your role as a hiring manager you’re going to be faced with the question of how to hire employees. Hiring an employee is one of the most critical functions you can fulfill as a hiring manager.

Hiring an employee is a lot like getting married; you’re going to spend a lot of time with this person. Employees who work in the same office spend over 2,000 hours together each year. You need to find the person who has the skills, work ethic, and fit for your culture.

How do you hire employees? More importantly, how do you hire the right employees? It’s a matter of knowing best practices for hiring and sticking to them.

This hiring guide will teach you all the essentials and some extras that will help ensure that the next time you hire a new employee it’s a match. Everyone wants the right employees. You have a much better chance of hiring them if you have an efficient process in place.

Let’s get started!

How to Hire Employees Guide: Table of Contents

How to Hire Employees: Topic Overviews

Step 0: Know Your Organizational Needs How to Hire Employees | Knowing Your Organizational Needs | ApplicantStack

Before you rush headlong into hiring, take a moment to review your company’s needs. It’s a good idea to write a few things down as you get started. This will help you stay on track and address the needs that initiated hiring a new employee in the first place.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Is there really a need for a full-time employee?
  • Can the job be temporary, part-time, seasonal, or outsourced?
  • Does the new job affect your ACA status?
  • Where is the job in the organization?
  • How will the change affect the organization?
  • Is there a deadline for hiring?

Test Your Assumptions

Even if you feel that you know what your company needs, take the time to test your assumptions. Run through some scenarios as a sanity check. Check with other managers and interview employees.

Ask questions about the role you are considering. You’ll use this information to refine your understanding for the job role in the next step. Be wary of bias. Employees and even managers will craft their answers to get the extra help.

To avoid biased answers, ask direct questions about the specific functions the new employee will fulfill. Ask about expected outcomes, and how those outcomes will move the business forward.

Collect your notes and refine your written understanding of the business case for hiring a new employee. Now run a few scenarios to determine if your expected outcomes are viable, what it will take for the employee to meet those expected outcomes, and whether the outcome solves the original problem.

Resources for Knowing Your Company Needs a New Employee

Here are a few resources that can help you gather your thoughts on why you might need a new employee. Look for ideas to focus your hiring effort on solving your original need with a better understanding of your objectives for the new hire:

Step 1: Create a Job Description Creating a job description | ApplicantStack

The first step of how to hire employees begins with writing a great job description. The job description serves many important purposes:

  • Defines the job responsibilities
  • Reduces the candidate pool to those who qualify
  • Introduces the applicant to the company and its culture

It’s important that your written job description includes all the components to communicate the right requirements. This will help you get to your most compatible hiring candidates faster than your competition.

The Components of a Great Job Description

Keep your job description simple and to the point. Be sure to include all the details that potential candidates need to know about the job. The job description is your first opportunity to attract qualified candidates and filter out the ones who aren’t a good fit.

The components of a good job description include:

  • Job location
  • Job title
  • List of job responsibilities
  • List of candidate requirements
  • List of desired new hire credentials
  • Statement about company and employee benefits
  • EEOC statement

Effective job descriptions avoid acronyms and jargon. They are clear and concise. They convey the company’s personality and make it easy for candidates to judge whether they want the job and if they qualify.

Be sure to choose and stick with a standard format for all of your job descriptions. This will make it easier to create new job descriptions and will present your company in the best light.

You can find plenty of examples of job descriptions by searching Google or visiting popular job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, JuJu, and CareerBuilder. Use these examples to craft your own unique version. If you copy a template to get you started, be sure to rewrite the description so that it fits your company profile and prioritizes your key requirements.

Get Team Input on Job Descriptions

When you have your description drafted, get input from the team. This will help you refine priorities and get buy-in from your team on the kind of person you are seeking. This early input will assure you won’t have any surprises in later stages of the hiring process.

Share your job description with key team members and consider asking them the following questions for focused feedback:

  • Is it complete?
  • Is there a clear distinction between requirements and nice-to-have qualities?
  • Is this an accurate description of what the company needs?
  • Is the pay rate appropriate for the described position?
  • How does this description compare to jobs listed by the competition?

The job description is important both during the hiring process and as a clear yardstick for measuring performance. If you cannot evaluate an employee against this description, you should revise it.

Resources for Writing the Job Description

In addition to the advice in this section, there are many resources on the web to help guide you. I’ve gathered some of the more helpful job description resources and listed them here for you. These additional resources will help you write the description for your next hire:

Step 2: Hiring Process Selection Criteria how to hire employees | prescreening | ApplicantStack

With a great job description in hand you can expect to attract top talent. Before you post the job, spend time to identify the criteria you will use to determine which applicants deserve your attention.

It’s important to have this list together before you post your job so you are ready to handle incoming applications in a timely manner. Screening applicants will take more time if you aren’t prepared. When applications start coming in, you’ll want to screen them as quickly as possible so you don’t lose a candidate in the waiting.

Defining Your Screening Questions

Look at your list of requirements (…I told you they’d come in handy). For each one, think of a question that you can ask each applicant to determine if they are qualified. Sometimes this will be a yes/no question. For example, you might require that the applicant be authorized to work in the US. Or you might require that they be at least 21 years old. In these examples, the answer is clear cut. Ask a yes/no question.

Other qualifications are better posed as multiple-choice questions. For example, if you require a specific college degree or certification, you could ask their highest level of education and provide a list to choose from. Consider this example:

  • High School Degree
  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree

Similarly, you could ask for years of work experience and provide ranges. Remember, if you have ranges be sure they don’t overlap!

Be sure to include answers that fall outside your requirement range. In this example, “High School Degree.” This will allow candidates who don’t match your criteria to self-select for the wrong options. In this case, “High School Degree” becomes a knockout answer in your screening if you are looking for an associate degree or higher.

Prioritizing Your Screening Questions

Once you build your list of questions, consider which ones are appropriate during the initial screening. You want to be able to identify those applicants who are truly disqualified, but you don’t want to eliminate anyone that might be a good candidate for an exceptional reason.

For example, you may find a candidate that doesn’t have the right education level, but that does have an unusual breadth of experience.

Prepare for Screening Early

Take the time to create the screening tools now, rather than waiting until the first applications roll in. There are three great reasons for this:

  1. You will have enough to do when your inbox fills up with applications.
  2. You can still make changes to your description if necessary because you haven’t already posted it!
  3. Once you begin the process, you are competing with other employers to find great new hires. Take the time up front so you don’t slow yourself down after the start.

Prepare to Watch For Keywords In Resume Reviews

Another element of defining your screening criteria comes through the resume.

Think about the keywords you expect to see in a resume that matches the job description. For example, if you are hiring a waitress you might expect the words restaurant, waitress, or server. If you are hiring a controller, you might look for CPA and MBA.

Make a list of the keywords you think will indicate a match. Think about the relative weight each word carries. In the financial officer case, perhaps CPA is more important than MBA.

Using an Applicant Tracking System for Automation

If you use an applicant tracking system (ATS), you may be able to use both the questions and keywords to auto-assess your candidates. This can save a tremendous amount of time.

Applicant tracking systems allow you to automate much of this process. Look for an applicant tracking system that can help you screen candidates automatically.

Even if you don’t have an applicant tracking system, identifying and quantifying your review criteria before you post your job is a good investment. Your competition may be looking for similar job candidates, and you don’t want to slow down the hiring process at this stage.

Be ready and refine your list of questions so that this early phase can go as quickly as possible.

Alert the Team

While you’re at it, make sure that you alert the people on your team who will be involved in the evaluation and selection processes. They need to know what the evaluation criteria are, what their roles and responsibilities are, how the process will work, and how to keep the process moving.

Advanced preparation and transparency are key to success.

Resources That Will Help You Prepare for the Screening Process

In addition to the advice in this section, you can find additional resources to help you prepare for prescreening your incoming job applicants. Here is a list of additional resources that will help you prepare for the screening process.

Step 3: Post the Job

Posting a Job | ApplicantStack We’ve come a long way from the old days of placing job ads in print newspapers. In those days, if your best candidate didn’t read the employment section that day, you were out of luck.

You could turn to ‘head hunters’, but there is a hefty price to pay for that. If you have a storefront, you can post your ad in the window or on a bulletin board, but that only gets you as far as the foot traffic walking past your window.

These days, online posting is where it’s at. If you are serious about hiring a new job candidate, your options are online. The question is where to post, and how.

Here are your answers…

Where and How to Post a Job

When it comes to posting a job listing online, there are almost too many options. On the social network side there’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All are important, but there’s more…

There are free job boards like Google for Jobs. There are paid job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster. There are hybrids where you can post free or enhance with a paid version like Indeed and LinkedIn. You can post to your own website and push to search engines or post on specialty boards like Craigslist. Your employees can post to their social media, too.

With all these choices, it can seem daunting. And the thought of a deluge of unqualified applicants can be depressing. Who has the time to post to a dozen sites and manage all the incoming applications?

…Not many busy professionals, but if you want to find the candidate in the shortest time, your best option is to post to as many job boards as possible.

Building Your Job Posting Strategy

You need to have a strategy for where you advertise your job and how you track the performance of each applicant source. To begin, keep it simple…

The first and most obvious source for candidates is your staff. Someone on your team may be qualified and want to apply for the job. Be sure to give them a way to apply. You may even want to give them a few days head start on the process. Hiring candidates from within the company is less expensive and provides an opportunity to hire experienced workers into more responsible positions. This strategy can be very effective and allows you to shift your hiring strategy to a more entry-level position if you are successful. Risk is lower, and you’ll save a lot of time and expense.

Your staff may also have people in their social network who can qualify for the job. Many companies provide incentives for referrals for just this reason. Social media has made it easy to reach friends of friends. Referrals can shorten your hiring timeline and increases your trust in the new employee. Make it easy for staff to alert their connections to the job opportunities at your company.

Another obvious place to put your job openings is on your own job board. If your company has a website, put it there. Make sure applicants can see the entire job description and have options to apply or refer a friend. The application process should include a way for the applicant to send their resume and provide contact information.

If you have an applicant tracking system, it may offer a custom job board for you. These can be handy because they have built-in search and display options that your own website may not support, and can be connected to your site through a “Jobs” link. They also typically provide a way to upload a resume and fill out an application. These handy options can reduce the time it takes to find a viable job candidate.

Commercial Job Boards

Free and paid job boards are essential for today’s job hiring environment for several reasons:

  • People seeking jobs routinely visit these sites.
  • Your posting is on equal footing with other postings, making small and mid-size companies more competitive for job applicants.
  • Filters and search criteria may identify your company as the best match for a qualified applicant that otherwise may not have thought to consider your position.

Job boards provide an easy mechanism to connect you with more job seekers. The more job seekers you can get in front of, the higher the chance you will find that next candidate. Job boards will also reduce the time it takes to find a candidate. This is critical in today’s competitive job environment. The faster you can find that job candidate, the quicker you can fulfill those job requirements we talked about in Step 0.

Professional job boards are critical. Use them.

Which Job Boards to Choose

Now comes the complicated part: choosing the job boards that are right for you and the job at hand.

You may find that paid listings are worthwhile when there is a lot of competition for applicants. Paid listings get a higher profile on the site. You may also find that for some jobs, you have better success with niche job boards.

Free listings are a no-brainer. Post your job to as many free job boards as possible. This will take some time, but you can reduce that time if you have followed the advice in the first three sections of our process:

  1. You know your organizational needs.
  2. You have a solid job description ready to cut and paste.
  3. You have your prescreening questions ready to go.

Paid job boards are essential if you are competing with other national companies, have specific skill requirements that are unique, or have highly specialized requirements. Paid job boards can be important, too, if you are hiring for a highly competitive job role or need a candidate fast.

Paid job boards will highlight your listing based on a higher level of criteria. They will also use featured tools to match your job description with candidate skills. You may find that paid listings offer more advanced tools that can help you solve your hiring needs faster, and with a more candidate.

Tracking Your Job Applicants

Whichever you choose, or if you choose all the above, be sure to track the source of all applicants so you can tell which ones are delivering good candidates. Remember that results may vary based on the particulars of the job description, so track that too.

Variables that might affect the quantity and quality of responses from any given job board and posting include job location, job type, education level, years of experience, hours, and physical requirements.

Of course, time is the gating factor in doing this kind of analysis. If you are doing all this by hand, you may find that you are quickly overwhelmed. An ATS system can be very handy in reducing the amount of effort you have to apply to track applicants. Applicant tracking software will also help you generate important data that can make your next hire even more competitive, quick and easy.

Setting Up Your Job Boards

Each job board has its own setup requirements. Try to keep your company and contact information similar across the boards. This will help you minimize maintenance activities.

Keep your login information secure but easily accessible for when you do your posting. Schedule time to post each job to the boards you choose. Be ready on the receiving side to field the applications as they come in. If you are doing this by hand, you’ll need to plan time to watch for email notifications or login to view new applications. Respond to them as quickly as you can.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Remember that social media can be an effective channel for job posting as well. Create company accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to cover the major bases. Make posting to these channels part of your regular job posting routine.

It’s easy to forget your social networks. You’ll want to plan time each day to check each social network for new applications, comments, shares and likes. Don’t forget to check your inbox for questions or private messages; social networks offer a wide range of communication options. You need to keep an eye on each of them.

Applicant Tracking Software Can Help

Applicant tracking systems can be a big help in the job posting process. Doing all this by hand is possible, but applicant tracking software will reduce the time required by a significant amount. It can also help you find that job candidate a lot quicker. You’ll beat the competition to the better candidate and fill your job needs faster.

Applicant tracking and recruiting software can provide many efficiencies, letting you:

  • Post to all job boards at one time.
  • Manage your credentials for each job board so you don’t have to login separately.
  • Automatically track application sources and job applicant details.
  • Post to social media and track responses automatically.
  • Generate unique links for posting to niche job boards or email.
  • Create and maintain an internal job board.
  • Automate screening of candidates based on your criteria.
  • Automatically receive and store applications and resumes.

If you are serious about hiring or have a high turnover in your business, consider an applicant tracking system to help you optimize your hiring process.

Resources to Find the Right Job Boards for Your Next Job Opening

Here are some additional resources you can look to for advice on which job boards to post to. Many job boards provide niche opportunities or special features that may be specific to your industry. Do a little research before you decide, make a list, and post to as many as you can:

Niche job sites:

Step 4: Candidate Screening How to Hire Employees | Screening Applicants | ApplicantStack

Now comes the fun part! Once you’ve defined and advertised your job, get ready to field applications.

The beginning of this step in the process should be an email from you to your applicant that acknowledges receipt of their application. You’ll want to communicate to your applicants as soon as possible to let them know they are in the running. This will keep their attention on your company and tune them into responding quickly.

Set this up as an automated task so that you:

  • Save time otherwise spent sending individual responses.
  • Appear interested and responsive.
  • Avoid phone and email calls from applicants seeking status.
  • Present a consistent and timely message to all applicants.
  • Buy a little time for screening.

Focus Your Candidate Screening

The first level of screening should focus on 2 objectives:

  1. Eliminate the clearly unqualified
  2. Highlight the top candidates

You can save your team a lot of time by removing candidates that do not make the grade for the job.

At the same time, though, be careful not to knockout a candidate that might be exceptionally qualified. For example, if you have a job that requires an undergraduate degree in computer science, anyone without it might be considered unqualified. However, you might have a candidate that has extraordinary experience that makes them worth hiring (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts).

Use the questions and keywords list you devised in step 2 to help you do a quick evaluation and sort the applications. You may want to do this in batches or at the end of the job opening window to save time. However, this may come at the cost of losing top talent to time.

Sorting Out Top Job Candidates

After the quick sort, go through each candidate in detail starting with the top candidate. Double check the knockouts. Then decide which ones deserve to go to the next level.

For those not moving on, consider whether they should be retained in the pool of potential future candidates. For example, if the applicant is a student who will graduate the following year, perhaps they could be a candidate for an internship in the summer or an entry-level position in the future.

Keep Communicating with Job Candidates

It’s a good idea at this point to send another email to all candidates. Give them a status update. For candidates moving on, let them know that they will be scheduled for a phone or in-person interview. For the rest, let them know that they were not chosen for the position.

Be sure to follow company guidelines and HR best practices for the content of these emails.

Watch for Bottlenecks in Your Screening Process

The initial screening can be a painful process for all involved. There can be a great deal of inefficiency, particularly if you have a high response rate. This step in the process can be fraught with danger.

You can miss great candidates because knockouts are too restrictive. You can lose other great candidates because they are snatched up by others before you finish your process. You can waste precious time wading through unqualified applications.

If you find the screening process to be a bottleneck for your organization, consider an applicant tracking system. An ATS can automate many of the tasks associated with this important first touch with applicants. For example, you can set up automated emails for each step in your process.

You can also typically have the applications go directly to the ATS (instead of your email) and scored against your criteria. This allows you to skip right to reviewing candidates in priority order. It is much easier to review candidates when you see them in context of each other and can go to details quickly and easily without jumping back and forth between files or pieces of paper.

Resources to Help You Screen Your Job Applicants

Here are additional resources to help you screen your job applicants. This is a critical stage of your hiring process, and it makes sense to have a good grasp of what you’ll be dealing with. Applicants will respond to your communications in a variety of ways, some positive and some with frustration.

Be prepared to handle the task by learning all you can in this area. Here are some great resources to help you build on this advice:

Rejection Letter Examples

Screening Questions

Screening Methods

Step 5: Schedule Interviews How to Schedule Interviews | ApplicantStack

Once you’ve eliminated the unqualified, it is time to go to the next level. Interviews.

Typically this is either a phone interview (as a second screening) or an in-person interview. Either way, the candidate and one or more of your staff need to agree on a date and time for the interview.

Scheduling seems like a simple task but rarely is. It can be particularly frustrating when calendars are constantly filling up. Another issue is how the substance of the interview is shared with others. As much as possible, try to move the process quickly and efficiently so that valuable time is not wasted.

Scheduling Interviews

On the scheduling side, use a scheduling tool that can access the calendars of all your staff involved in the interview. You can then set a date and time for the interview and communicate it to your candidate.

Even better, set a window for the candidate to select a date/time combination that also works for them. This is particularly important if you have multiple candidates and multiple interviewers.

For example, if you have 10 candidates that appear qualified based on their applications, you should conduct an initial phone interview with each prior to an in-person interview. This will give you a chance to reduce the number of people you have come into the office for team interviews.

You’ll save a lot of time if you can send an automatic email to each job candidate. Invite them to choose an interview date and time based on your calendar. Offer a selection of times, or use a tool such as Calendly to offer a range of times with automated scheduling. Even better, use your ATS system to manage everyone’s schedule.

As each of the 10 candidates in our example follow the link, they see the combinations still available to them. Once each chooses an interview slot, the pool of available times goes down by one.

Include Team Scheduling to Optimize Time

In another example, let’s say you are hiring 10 seasonal waitresses. You have 20 applicants that seem qualified so you want to schedule them for an in-person interview with you and several team members.

In this case, you’ll want to schedule time with your team and announce a speed-date interview session to each of your candidates. Scheduling specific times won’t be necessary if you block out a time and receive candidates as they come in. Candidates won’t mind waiting a few minutes to get started, and you can round-robin your team so that everyone is conducting an interview at the same time.

Send an automated email inviting the candidates to come at a specific date/time that fits your team’s schedule. Receive candidates as they come in.

You may even want to do a series of phone and in-person interviews in a similar round-robin format where you hand off to the next teammate after each 15-minute call. Whichever method you choose, scheduling is going to be a big part of the process.

Everyone Involved, from candidate to hiring manager, needs to be looped in as efficiently as possible. Fortunately, most people now use either Google or Outlook calendars, so coordination should be possible.

Resources for Scheduling Interviews and Managing Time

Here are some interviewing related resources that will help prepare you for interviewing new job candidates.

Here are some scheduling related resources that can help you optimize your time and reduce the impact on your team during the interview process.

Step 6: Conduct Interview

Let’s discuss how to conduct an interview the right way. Like anything, good interviewing requires preparation. How should the interviewer prepare for an interview? Notice that steps 1-6 all take place before the candidate arrives. If you follow the steps and prepare well, the actual interview will go smoothly. By all means, the things you do to prepare are just as important as what you do when you are conducting the interview.

Understand the Job Description

If you wrote the job description, you have a good idea what the position entails. But take it a step further by talking to managers. Ask them about soft skills. Also, talk to employees in the same (or similar) job role. When you have a deeper understanding, update the job description.

Write an Interview Script

An unstructured interview prevents good evaluation. Fortunately, it’s not hard to write structured interview scripts. We cover this in detail in: Why Structured Interviews Are Critical. Follow the steps to create structured interviews as part of your hiring process.

It’s helpful to organize questions in three categories: questions about job specifics (hard skills), soft skills (behavioral) and situational. Hard skills are also called technical skills and are job-specific capabilities or knowledge necessary for the job role. They are acquired through on-the-job training, experience or formal education. Therefore, hard skills can be quantified. For example, an ability to write code in JavaScript, measure blood pressure or speak Spanish.

Conversely, soft skills are behavioral attributes that help an employee succeed in their work. Working well with team members, problem-solving and effective time management are examples of soft skills that would help with any job. Soft skills are also called interpersonal skills, non-technical skills and essential skills. Situational questions relate to soft skills as well.

  • Job role-specific: What experience and certifications do you have in the [INDUSTRY] field?
  • Soft skills or behavioral: What if you had to solve a difficult problem and your manager was away?
  • Situational questions: How would you respond to an angry customer?

The Importance of Standardized Scoring

It’s key to understand that to improve interviewing, you need to improve evaluation. To do this, standardize candidate scoring. An interview scorecard is the easiest way to do this. Use the job qualifications to create the scorecard. It doesn’t need to be complex, but each person on the interview team must use it. When everyone is working from the same playbook, it’s easier to compare candidates. It also helps to remove “gut feelings” from the process.

Share Your Mission and Values

The job seeker has the power in today’s employment dynamic. Moreover, it’s clear that job seekers care about what your company stands for. Certainly, the applicant is scrutinizing you as carefully as you are scrutinizing them. For this reason, write an Employment Value Proposition and practice sharing it. In a great interview, you showcase your culture and values.

Group vs. Individual Interview

If you’re doing high volume hiring, it may work to do a group interview. For example, if you need to quickly hire multiple candidates for the same job position, a group interview (in person or a virtual interview) may work for your company.

Group interviews are most effective when hiring for positions that require excellent people skills, especially when the job regularly deals with consumers or the public. Group interviews are also effective when teamwork is an integral part of the job. The group interview allows an employer to observe behaviors that are reflective of success on the job before the employer actually invests time and money into hiring a candidate. The Society for Human Resource Management

Know Hiring Laws Inside and Out

Business owners, recruiting and hiring managers make mistakes all the time. Therefore, protect your company by learning the do’s and don’ts of legal hiring. Additionally, if you have legal counsel, have them sign off on your interview questions.

Review the Candidate’s Application

The more familiar you are with the candidate’s resume, the better. First, it gives you important context. Secondly, it will help you maintain eye contact and put the candidate at ease.

Schedule the Interview Location in Advance

You don’t want to wander around looking for a conference room with the applicant in tow. If possible, use a private room with comfy chairs. A glass-windowed room can make an introverted candidate uncomfortable.

In the past two years, video interviews have become commonplace. If you conduct virtual interviews, ensure the tech is ready to go. Indeed, nothing lowers your confidence (and company image) like tech glitches.

Don’t Crowd Your Interview Calendar

Schedule enough time for the interviewee to elaborate where necessary. Add a 15-minute buffer between interviews so you never have to rush a candidate-or make the next one wait.
Download our free eBook: The Interview: The Step-by-Step Guide to Exemplary Hiring Practices.

Step Up Your Communication Skills

Now that you’ve prepared well, it’s time for the actual interview.

  • Turn off your phone or have your assistant hold your calls
  • Offer the candidate something to drink
  • Speak slowly
  • Listen intently
  • Stick with the script-even if you have an urge to stray!

Resources for Writing Interview Scripts

Step 7: Collect Hiring Team Feedback Collecting Hiring Feedback | ApplicantStack

One of the hardest steps on the path to hiring can be quantifying feedback. If the process is working right, unqualified candidates were eliminated early, so there can be a risk of feedback becoming very subjective.

Start with Hiring Criteria

To help ensure that all of your staff evaluates candidates in a consistent manner, start with the hiring criteria.

Make sure everyone is on board with the qualification list and what constitutes a good match. Create a feedback form that everyone uses so that you can compare all perspectives. Make it as quantitative as possible, then give some room for opinion. Let everyone weigh in, and then combine the data for easy review.

Collecting Feedback from your Team

Make sure you include instructions for providing feedback. Instructions can include the interview criteria themselves. Also include the method for providing feedback, whether by email or printed form. Let your team know when the feedback is due, and be wary that this process can take a lot of time.

To shorten the time, ask for feedback immediately. This will keep the interview process as short as possible. You’ll also get fresh feedback that doesn’t rely on memory.

Share Feedback to Your Team

After the interviews are complete and all the evaluations are in, make them available to the team so they can do a final assessment on which candidates are top contenders. Make it as easy for them as possible, presenting all assessments for each candidate, and a roll-up for all candidates.

It’s a good idea to provide a summary survey that each team member can complete. This summary survey can ask them questions about their final analysis including which candidate they felt was the most for the job.

Have each team member name their top three candidates in order of priority to make it easier to match the best job candidates.

Make it as easy as possible to narrow the field.

Resource on How to Assess Job Candidates

You can learn more about interviewing and assessing candidates from this resource.

Step 8: Make a Selection How to Hire Employees | Choosing the Right Selection | ApplicantStack

At this point, you should be down to only a few candidates for the position.

It’s time to check references and do background checks.

Checking References of Job Candidates

You may have collected references at the very beginning of the process or may do it now. In any case, this is usually the point where you invest time talking to previous employers and looking for any issues that were not already uncovered.

Try to automate this process as much as you can. For example, send an automated email to the references asking them to fill out a linked questionnaire. To speed this step, call references and fill out the questionnaire yourself. Either way, try to gather information in a consistent manner from each reference for each final candidate.

To save time, you can begin checking references during the interview process. Create a checklist and ask a team member to conduct phone interviews while candidates are being interviewed.

Performing Background Checks on Job Candidates

There are many organizations that can conduct a background check and other specialized checks that you might require such as drug testing and driver history. Notify the candidates to let them know you are conducting the checks.

Background checks are best handled by a professional company that specializes in background checks. Note that there may be regulations to navigate. Be careful not to ask for information that may be protected either federally or by state law.

If you are conducting background checks, make sure your job candidates know up front. There is likely paperwork and agreements to sign before background checks can be initiated.

Let everyone know what the criteria are for the background checks, and provide candidates the opportunity to opt out if they have concerns.

Making a Selection

Once the checks are complete, it is time to make a selection. Give the selection team access to all candidate information (unless it is confidential) and make it easy to compare candidates if there are more than one still standing. There are tools available to speed this process and make it easier to review all candidate and reviewer information.

Resources to Help You Make a New Hire Selection

Here are some additional resources that can help you make a selection. This is the most nerve-wracking part of the hiring process, and it deserves some additional know-how. Learn as much as you can about selecting your next new hire and get comfortable with the stresses of selecting candidates.

Step 9: Offer the Job How to Make a Job Offer | ApplicantStack

Now that a decision has been made by you and your company, it is time for the applicant to weigh in. If everything has gone well, the candidate is excited about the job and wants to join your company. If everything has gone fast, the candidate is still available for hire.

Send an Offer Letter

Send an offer letter that states clearly the key information about the offer, including wage, location and start date. You might also want to include where and when to report and any other details that are specific to the offer.

Give the candidate a signature line and send it out.

Get to this process as quickly as you can. Remember you have competition out there. Now that you have identified this person as the ideal candidate, you can be certain that others have, too.

It helps to have a job offer ready to go before you start the process. Begin with a template…

Use a Job Offer Template

Use an offer letter template to make this a speedy and consistent process. Create the template in advance and have it ready to go for this and your next hire.

Include your company logo, standard text and merge fields where you can easily add the details for the specific offer. Keep this template on hand for future job offers so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It helps to save time, too.

The offer step is important to execute as quickly as possible, so it helps to have the tools standing by to get the job done fast.

Resources to Help You Formulate Your Job Offer

Here are some samples and resources that can be useful in defining your offer.

Step 9: Hire Onboarding New Hires | ApplicantStack

Congratulations! You have crossed the goal line and have successfully filled the job.

But just as in football, there is still work to do after the touchdown. Time to go for the extra point—onboarding your new hire now, before they report to work.

Onboarding Your New Hire

Onboarding is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that there is a huge upside to tackling onboarding ahead of the first day. It makes day one more productive and less painful for everyone from the new hire to hiring manager and colleagues.

It also helps establish your new hire faster and more productively. Onboarding can save you months of ramp-up time and helps build company loyalty in your new employee. Statistics show that employees who experience a thorough onboarding process are more likely to spend more time at the company, and will be more productive, faster.

Onboarding typically includes a lot of paperwork. Instead of having new hires spend hours in the new workplace filling out forms, give them the power to do the work at their convenience before reporting to work. Employee self-serve portals, online documentation, digital employee handbooks and a personal digital file cabinet are all part of the onboarding process.

With onboarding, employees have the opportunity to complete tasks before they come to work. Then when they come to work, they are ready to work.

The Components of Onboarding

The onboarding process is specific to every company, so it’s hard to determine a standard. However, there are common onboarding processes that you will want to consider.

Here are some common components of onboarding:

  • Tax forms
  • WOTC forms
  • ACA forms
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Direct deposit and payroll details
  • Emergency contact information
  • Employee handbook review
  • Policies and procedures
  • Safety instructions
  • Timekeeping instructions

There is a great deal of efficiency to be had for all involved simply by moving these processes off paper and online. There are plenty of tools available to help you make that happen and make everyone involved jazzed about getting down to business on day one.

Resources for Onboarding Your Next Employee

Here are some resources that can be useful in understanding the scope of onboarding and ways you can streamline the process.

Use Your Knowledge About How to Hire Employees

So there you go. If you’ve made it this far, you should have a solid understanding of the hiring process. Use this guide to plan your next hire. You’ll find the steps in this guide to be invaluable to knowing how to find new applicants and how to hire employees.

Good luck!

The Hiring Decision: Choosing the Best Candidates

The Hiring Decision: Choosing the Best Candidates

By now, you’ve likely whittled down your candidate pool to just a few prospects. Now it’s time to make your hiring decision!

The Goals of Your Hiring Decision

All of the hiring committee’s hard work is now put to the test. Your hiring decision should ensure the new hire has the skills and qualifications you need and quickly adds value to the team. Unfortunately, the last step can often be the hardest, as it also means saying “no” to some of the best prospects. But with a little more digging, you can be sure to hire the best candidate.

How Long Should a Hiring Decision Take?

This will depend on the role, company size, industry, applicant pool and labor market. A restaurant owner might choose a server in two weeks while a hospital takes six months to hire a heart surgeon. According to LinkedIn research, the industries/job roles with the longest hiring processes are engineering (49 days), research (48), project management (47), business development (46), finance (46) and IT (44). In contrast, the average time to hire for customer service positions is 34 days.

One thing’s for certain, companies are retooling hiring processes to fill positions faster. The employment market is too competitive to struggle with old-school methods. Not surprisingly, technology is key.

Investment in technology is imperative to support the pace of accelerated hiring needed for businesses across industries. In today’s job market, where candidates are now being pursued both nationally and internationally, and often receive multiple offers concurrently, it is critical for employers to rely on technology to expedite the hiring process. Tim Dowd, CEO of Accurate Background

What to Review Before Making Your Hiring Decision

The time has come to make a selection from your pool of top candidates. You want to be careful, but you risk losing applicants if this stage takes too long. You need to review the candidate scorecards, check references and perform a background check. Each of these tasks is important. The candidate scores measure hard and soft skills. Reference checking verifies work experience and credentials. A background check can uncover a criminal record or other red flags.

What is a Background Check?

A background check as part of a job application is a review of the applicant’s records and history. The employer wants to determine if the applicant is honest and trustworthy. They want to know if he/she poses a threat to the company in any way. For example, if the applicant has been convicted of theft or an assault, it would raise red flags.

Employers also check other information specific to the job role. For an accounting position, the employer might review the applicant’s financial records. If the applicant was highly leveraged with debt, the potential employer probably wouldn’t be comfortable letting them handle company funds.

Most employers contract with a company that specializes in performing background checks.

The purposes of a background check include the following:

  1. Confirm the applicant’s identity
  2. Determine if the applicant has a criminal record
  3. Verify the employment history listed on the resume and/or application
  4. Confirm the education listed on the resume and/or application
  5. Review the applicant’s driving record (if applicable)
  6. Check the applicant’s credit history (if applicable)

There are federal and state laws that regulate background checks. It’s important that employers understand how to conduct legal background checks.

When Should I Perform a Background Check For a Job Applicant?

Background checks are generally done following the review, before you extend an offer. However, it might make sense for you to do it at another point in the process.

What is a Reference Check?

Employers perform reference checks to evaluate and verify an applicant’s employment history. The candidate provides the names and contact information for the references on their resume or application.

There are two main types of references: professional and personal. A professional reference is usually a previous (or current) employer, manager, business associate, or client. A professional reference provides information about work history and skills.

If an applicant is new to the workforce and has no professional contacts, they might provide a personal, or character, reference. A personal reference may be a teacher, professor, coach, member of the clergy, or supervisor at a non-profit.

Reference checks vary in the types of information obtained. The employer might simply verify dates of employment and the job title. With a more extensive inquiry, the employer seeks information about the applicant’s performance in previous job roles.

Reference checks are regulated at the federal and state level.  It’s important to understand how to conduct compliant reference checks.

What if the Process Reveals Two Top Picks?

What a great problem to have! In this era of low unemployment and talent shortages, some recruiting teams can’t find one top candidate, let alone two. If this happens to you, backtrack over the evaluation process. Are there stones left unturned? For example, perhaps because of the nature of the position, you didn’t do reference checks. Now’s the time to dig deeper to gain more insight into the candidate’s background. It always helps to spend more time with both candidates. For example, you can tour the office or share a meal. Be alert to differences in the way each candidate interacts with the team. We dive deeper into this topic here: Torn Between Two Equally-Desirable Candidates? How to Choose the Right One.

Make Sure Everyone is in Agreement

The goal is to build a consensus among the hiring committee. In most companies, the hiring manager has the final say if members of the team disagree. However, it’s important to discuss each team member’s concerns. If someone doesn’t agree with the manager’s pick, they may understandably become resentful. Of course, the hiring manager can’t make everyone happy if there are disagreements. However, discussing everyone’s concerns shows respect for others’ opinions.

How Can ApplicantStack Simplify Reference and Background Checks?

ApplicantStack applicant tracking system streamlines the evaluation and hiring decision process. For example, you can trigger reference and background checks at any stage in the hiring process. The candidate provides the references on the application and the software sends emails directly to references. All feedback is imported into the candidate profile.

ApplicantStack Automation + Customization

Intelligent automation and the ability to customize prevents logjams. This is true for the background and reference checking stages as well as the other workflows in the hiring process.

  • Background screening
    • This workflow can be triggered at any stage
    • The applicant is automatically sent a screening email
  • Reference checks
    • Can be triggered at any stage in the hiring process
    • Auto emails are sent to the applicant’s references
    • Responses are imported into the candidate feedback tab

Does ApplicantStack Integrate With Background Screening Companies?

ApplicantStack integrates with several background screening companies and we’re adding more all the time. Our current background screening partners are Verified First, Accurate Now, Amerisearch, CareerBuilder Employment Screening, DISA, and Trak-1.

Select Your Next Employee

Based on the feedback during the previous steps, you can now make your selection of the top choice candidate. When this stage is finished, you are ready to offer the job!

This article is part of our comprehensive series on hiring employees.

How an ATS Improves the Applicant Journey

How an ATS Improves the Applicant Journey

Welcome to our How To Hire Your Next Employee Series. Whether you are a new or veteran hiring manager, our series can help you improve your recruiting processes. In so doing, you will find employees faster. And it will cost you less.

The Applicant Journey

In today’s post, we describe the process from the applicant’s point of view. This is called the applicant, or candidate, journey. Unfortunately, the applicant journey doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. Yet the ApplicantStack candidate interface is key to our success. That means it’s key to your success as well.

ApplicantStack creates an exceptional applicant journey and your company deserves nothing less.

Branded Recruitment Marketing

With ApplicantStack, you can brand your recruitment marketing. Or use our default layouts.

In this article we’ll show you examples of both.

The Applicant Moves Through Stages Along The Applicant Journey

Before we continue, let’s talk about applicant stages because it’s important to understand how they work.

A stage refers to one specific step in the hiring process. For example, an applicant could be in the interview stage. Or they could be in the manager review stage.

As you move an applicant through the hiring process, you change their stage in the system. Stage changes can trigger actions. For example, if you change an applicant’s stage to Do Not Pursue, you can cause the system to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you’re not a fit for the position’ email. You create a template for the email and even personalize it with merge fields. ApplicantStack will insert the applicant’s name.

As we talk about each point of contact between the applicant and your company, keep in mind that you can tie the applicant’s stage to auto communications.

The Applicant Sees Your Job Posting

Your job posting is the first point of contact in the applicant journey. Candidates can find your job posting on your chosen job boards (such as Indeed, Google, JuJu, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.), social media sites, or your careers page.

Here are ApplicantStack job postings on Indeed. See the listing for the SwipeClock jobs:


ApplicantStack applicant journey


Candidates look at these sites for jobs. Your ApplicantStack job postings start engaging candidates immediately. With branded postings, the applicant meets your employer brand at the first point of contact. Branded postings reflect the look and feel of your website.


When the candidate sees your posting, they click a link which takes them to your application. (An application is called a ‘Questionnaire’ in the ApplicantStack system.)

Here is a questionnaire created in ApplicantStack:


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee

Notice how easy it is to upload a resume. Applicants can use Dropbox or Google Drive. ApplicantStack makes everything easy and natural.

ApplicantStack has flexible settings to fit your ideal candidate. You can set the resume upload to allow the applicant to write a cover letter. If that isn’t customary in your industry, leave that turned off.

ApplicantStack Eliminates Redundant Processes

When the applicant uploads their resume, ApplicantStack parses some of the contact information. The applicant won’t have to reenter all of their contact information going forward.

Repeating tasks unnecessarily is frustrating for everyone. It’s especially frustrating for a job candidate who is in the process of applying for jobs at multiple companies.

Reentering contact info again and again wastes their time. And it makes your company seem twenty years behind the technological curve.

Personalized Candidate Emails

When the candidate fills out the application, they immediately receive a personalized email that confirms you received their application. If they are a good fit, you can reach out to them immediately.

The applicant never wonders ‘Did they get my application and resume?’ They see that your company is prompt and professional. You respect their time and appreciate their interest in your company.

Candidate Screening

In ApplicantStack, you can use questionnaires for prescreening. Screening questionnaires can play a role in a great applicant journey.

Here is a screening questionnaire:

Screening Questionnaires

Prescreening questionnaires with knockout questions help eliminate unqualified candidates. This is how a questionnaire with knockout questions works:

You create a screening questionnaire with knockout questions. The knockout questions will depend on the job description.

The candidate completes the questionnaire. If they aren’t qualified, the knockout questions will filter them out.

You won’t waste any more of their time. If a candidate is eliminated, you can program ApplicantStack to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you aren’t a fit for the position’ email. You create an email template and ApplicantStack will use merge fields to enter the necessary information. (As mentioned previously, all candidates receive a ‘We have received your application,’ email immediately after applying.’)

If they pass the prescreen questionnaire, the system presents the more extensive questionnaire.

If you want your applicants to receive the full questionnaire initially, you can program it that way. You understand the recruiting standards of your industry and company type. The job position also influences how you want to craft the process for your applicant.

You customize ApplicantStack to create an applicant journey that’s most effective for your hiring pool.

No-Hassle Reference Checks

In your questionnaire, you can ask for references. Your applicant will enter them when they apply. ApplicantStack saves them in the candidate profile. If the applicant passes the prescreening and interviews, you can move them to the ‘Reference Check’ stage. When this happens, ApplicantStack will automatically email the references. This is called a Questionnaire Action in ApplicantStack.

This saves your applicant the trouble of re-entering their references. And you won’t have to ask them for their references again or find them on their resume. It keeps the process moving and eliminates a common bottleneck.

Interview Scheduling Reinvented

If the candidate passes the questionnaire screening, they are invited to schedule an interview. ApplicantStack interview self-scheduling is a game changer. ApplicantStack integrates with Google and Office365 for interview scheduling. Because of the integration, any non-available time slots will be hidden from the applicant.


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee


Let’s discuss this in detail.

Decide how many members of your team need to be in the interview. For this example, let’s say three team members need to be there.

ApplicantStack will pull information from Google Calendar or Office365 for each member of the interview team.

Let’s suppose there are four specific time slots where all interviewers are available. The applicant is only presented with these time slots. The applicant can choose the most convenient time slot.

Let’s suppose there is only one time slot for which all hiring members are available. If this is the case, ApplicantStack presents the applicant with one interview time.

Your Applicant Won’t Be Frustrated With Scheduling Hassles

Interview scheduling is a hiring process bottleneck for many companies. With slowdowns, you run the risk of abandoned applications. Interview self-scheduling keeps the process on track.

Job Offer

When the background and reference checks are complete, it’s time to offer the job. Here is an offer letter email:


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee

Notice the electronic signature. The applicant can sign and accept the offer immediately.

ApplicantStack ensures that you never lose an applicant because they are confused. ApplicantStack is always ready for each stage change. Candidates advance through hiring stages as quickly as your team chooses to process them. You will never have a slowdown because of the ApplicantStack platform. Your hiring team, the applicant, and their references control the timeline.

ApplicantStack can send hiring team members task reminders. Task reminders help your hiring team support a fluid, timely applicant journey.

ApplicantStack Reports

By running reports in ApplicantStack, you can identify bottlenecks in your hiring process. This allows you to continually refine your process and keep improving your company’s applicant journey.

How to Hire Your Next Employee

We hope you’ve found our How To Hire Employees series helpful. Here are the links to the posts on each step in the process.

Job Posting: Where and How to Post Job Listings

Job Posting: Where and How to Post Job Listings

After you’ve written your job description, it’s time for job posting. Posting jobs manually can be a long, tedious process. But there are lots of tips and shortcuts to save you time, and to help you find the best places to advertise your position.

The Difference Between a Job Posting and a Job Description

Though these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A job description is used by the employer internally. Its purpose is to describe the job role in detail, not only for the hiring team and Human Resources but for overall business strategy and operations. A job description also protects the organization legally.

A job posting is used to market the position to potential applicants. As such, it is written like an advertisement. Though it contains necessary experience and skills, you want it to showcase the job and company to entice people to apply.

What is a job board?

Job boards are websites where employers post open positions for individuals to review and apply. They are essentially search engines for jobs. Some job boards are highly specialized by industry, geography, or role. Others are known for their breadth and volume of job postings. LinkedIn has a job board-like function incorporated into a social platform. You can build a network of business contacts, post your job, and have the platform recommend candidates to reach out to.

What are some examples of job boards?

There are more than 25,000 web sites that list job openings. Indeed, Monster and ZipRecruiter are some well-known ones. Other niche sites may be favorites within your industry or for the position you seek to fill.

How do job boards help employers find applicants?

As mentioned, some job boards have a unique focus like diversity candidates, tech jobs (, or remote jobs (Flex Jobs). By targeting boards that best match your ideal candidate, you can increase your reach. You can also actively recruit from many job boards, to identify the individuals you want to apply for your open position or internship.

How do I post a job to a job board?

Each job board has a process to upload job listings. Typically, you use a form to enter the various components of the posting–skills, work experience, etc. Most boards have a free and paid option. If you opt for the paid option, they give your posting more visibility. This includes moving it up in search results and presenting it to applicants searching for the position. Of course, if you don’t have the budget, you’ll have to go with free posting sites.

Like anything manual, this takes a lot of time when you post to several sites, which you will likely want to do. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) make it easy for you to post to many job boards at the same time.

Which job board is best for your organization and open position?

With thousands of job boards available, it may seem overwhelming to identify the one that is best for your company and budget. The good news is that you don’t need to pick one. Instead, figure out which ones focus on your industry, the skills required for each job posting, geography and more.

Where to Post Jobs recognized the following sites as top job boards for employers:

  • ZipRecruiter: Best for Large Scale Recruiting
  • Indeed: Best for Free Job Posts
  • LinkedIn: Best for Executive and Upper Management Positions
  • Handshake Job Search Site: Best for College Recruiting
  • Dribble: Best for Scouting Designers and Creatives

The Balance Careers rates the following as the top ten job search websites from a candidate’s perspective:

  • Best Overall: Monster
  • Best for Employer Research: Glassdoor
  • Best for Remote Jobs: FlexJobs
  • Best for Experienced Managers: Ladders
  • Best for Startup Jobs: AngelList
  • Best for Connecting Directly with Recruiters: LinkedIn
  • Best for Up-to-Date Listings: Getwork
  • Best for Hourly Workers: Snagajob

(Source: The Best Job Search Websites, The Balance Careers)

Better yet, use a job marketplace like JobTarget, which aggregates your data across all of your job ads and all of your publishers. JobTarget’s analytics show which job sites attract the most qualified candidates so you can manage your spend. You’ll be able to compare data across all of your activities. And ultimately, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about how to recruit.

How to Post a Job on Indeed

  1. Go to and follow the steps to create an account or sign in with your Google, Apple, or
    Facebook account
  2. Click the Post a Job button
  3. Once you’ve posted your first job, you can also find the Post a Job button in your Employer Dashboard
  4. Enter the job details as prompted
  5. Add your job description
  6. At the Applicant Qualifications page, enter screener questions that will immediately qualify or disqualify an applicant
    1. Types of screener questions include Yes or No, Short Answer, Multiple Choice, Date or Number, or Request for File Upload
  7. Designate any Applicant Qualifications a deal breaker and give Indeed permission to file under Rejected in your Employer Dashboard
  8. When you start receiving applications, you can sort them based on their answers to the Applicant Qualifications questions in your Employer Dashboard at the Candidates tab


How to Post a Job on LinkedIn

  1. Click the Jobs icon at the top of your LinkedIn home page
  2. Click the Post a Job button
  3. On the Job Details page, enter the job description and skills
  4. Click Continue
  5. On the Applicant Options page, set preference for how you would like to receive applications
  6.  Add screening questions (LinkedIn recommends at least three)
  7. Click Post Job for Free


How to Make Your Job Posting Stand Out

Company Careers Page

Of course, you’ll want to post every job to your careers page. Make your page enticing with photos and videos that showcase your culture. Bonus points if your employees make their own video. Consider a contest with prizes for the best videos.

Social Media

Post to every platform, even if you don’t use them for business. Instagram, for example, may not be the best site for ad-like posts, but perfect for a job opening. (Especially if you include some eye-catching photos!) You can also coordinate each job posting with a social post and link them to the application.

Internal Job Posting

Let your team know when you have openings. Use your HRIS, Internal comms tools like Slack or email. Referral rewards work great for some companies. Since referral hires are often more successful than non-referrals, it’s definitely worth spending a few hundred dollars on some enticing rewards.

Add Photos and Videos

As mentioned previously, photos and videos can help you stand out. Most job postings on LinkedIn and Indeed don’t have photos and videos, so get ahead of your competition.


If the job is 100% remote, put that in the job title. Many job seekers are looking exclusively for remote positions. An added bonus is that you can recruit from anywhere.

How to Promote Your Job Posting

Educational Partnerships

Partner with universities, colleges and technical schools in your community. Of course, if the job is remote, you aren’t limited to your geographical area.

Also consider the long game. Many institutions have formal business partnership programs. If your open positions are technical and there are skills programs in your area, volunteer to be on the curriculum advisory committee. This will solidify your relationship with the school and help you shape programs that could supply skilled talent for years to come.

Job Fairs

While we’re on the subject of educational institutions, participate in school-sponsored job fairs. In addition to promoting specific jobs, you’ll start building your employer brand among recent graduates and other job seekers attending the job fair.

Local Sponsorships

Get creative with local events. Depending on the demographic of your talent pool, sponsor a local event. For example, a volunteer day, race, theatrical production, or summer festival. You could even hand out branded swag or print your job postings on beverage cups.

Poach from Your Competitors

This technique if not for the faint of heart but some brave recruiters have had success with it. Transform an RV to a recruiting office and park it on a public street near a competing employer during lunch hour. If you have the budget, give free lunches to anyone who applies.

Local Radio Ads

Local radio stations might have affordable ad slots. Choose the station based on your new hire persona and produce a simple but informative ad about your open position(s).

Is there an easier way to post to multiple job boards?

Yes. Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to connect to many job boards at once, including aggregators like JobTarget. You can discover niche and specialty websites that give you the best reach for each job opening.