Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Susan Guillory – President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. Her opinions are her own.
The first few weeks after hiring a new employee are the most difficult: not only do you need to get someone in a role quickly, but you also have to ensure that the new hire is comfortable in her position.
It’s all too easy to overwhelm her before her job’s begun if you don’t take the process seriously. And it can take two years for your new hire to become as productive as her predecessor, so time is of the essence.
Here are a few tips to make the hiring process smoother both for your company and your newest employee.
In the recruiting phase: Don’t start from scratch
There’s no reason you should be caught off guard the next time an employee puts in his notice. You’ve hired and fired people as long as you’ve been at your company, so you should be aware of patterns (say, more people quitting when their performance evaluations don’t go as they hoped) and be prepared for when an employee gives his two weeks’ notice.
Rather than scrambling to put together a job description and making a plan for who will take over his duties once he’s gone (if you haven’t yet hired a replacement), save yourself the headache by having everything ready as much as possible.
For every position at your company, have a job description on file. This may need to be updated when an employee leaves since roles often change over time. Still, having a template to start with cuts down on the work for this step.
If yours is a fairly niche industry (or some of your jobs are highly specialized and require skills that few people have), use contact management software to stay in touch with people who have applied for roles at your company in the past. Maybe one wasn’t the perfect fit for the job he applied for, but now that you have a new position open, you know a past candidate would be perfect. Keeping his contact details makes it easy to reach out to see if he’s interested in being considered for this role, and cuts down on the time involved in the hiring process.
In the interviewing phase: Use process of elimination to save time
Now that you have several candidates to consider, you don’t want to spend the next two weeks interviewing them in your office before you know which aren’t eligible for the role. Before you schedule in-person interviews, consider a few other steps to weed out unqualified candidates.
If the job requires specific skills, consider offering a pre-employment skills assessment test, particularly if the role requires detailed knowledge of a certain software program. Saying he’s “adept” in a program on his resume might actually translate to “have been exposed to the program” in reality, so a skills assessment test will help you truly gauge experience and ability.
If you’re considering candidates out of town, before you pay to fly them in for an interview, a one-way video interview can give you a sense of the person’s professionality and poise. Ask candidates to video themselves answering specific questions. From these answers, you can determine which you want to bring in for a one-on-one interview.
Once you do schedule in-person interviews, make sure everyone that needs to be in on the process is available, and if you have several people who need to interview each candidate, consider whether it’s better to have a panel interview (everyone in on one interview session) or back-to-back interviews with each person individually (more intimidating for the candidate and time-consuming).
Each person should have different questions to ask the candidate. The direct supervisor might ask about specific skills, a co-worker might inquire about experience working on a team, and HR should ask general job experience questions.
Afterward, schedule a quick meeting with your staff to assess each candidate’s interview. Using a rubric can be helpful in compiling each person’s insight into the candidates.
In the hiring phase: Streamline with technology
Now you’ve made your selection and are ready to make an offer. Here’s where technology can make your life a lot easier. Rather than sending an offer letter in the mail (so archaic these days), you can call and follow up with an email to start the process.
Be prepared for salary negotiation, but rather than trying to save a little money by lowballing the offer (thereby extending how long the negotiation process will take), offer a fair salary with a little wiggle room.
Once the candidate has accepted the offer, send a digital packet with the offer letter, details on employee benefits, and other documents pertaining to the hiring process. This cuts down on paper and eliminates the need for her to come into the office to get these. She can review them at her leisure and digitally sign and return them to you.
In the onboarding phase: You can never train too much
Technology also helps with onboarding. Certainly, your new hire will need a personal touch to acclimate her to her new work environment, but rather than throwing a giant employee handbook at her, consider an interactive online version that will engage her through technology. You can make it an app or a website, add quizzes, and use vivid imagery to keep her engaged. Try doing that with a dictionary-sized handbook!
Training should take many forms to better instill new knowledge in your hire’s brain. A series of online training videos are great because you can use them for multiple employees and they can review them whenever necessary. You also don’t have to remove another employee from what he’s working on to train the new hire.
Shadowing is another great training component that really drives learning, particularly for people who learn better by watching others do. Choose an employee who is patient and good at explaining a task so the new hire will feel comfortable about asking questions as the two work together.
Make sure the new employee has one or more people she feels comfortable relying on for help, and as the HR manager, make sure you check in every few days for the first few weeks to ensure that she’s feeling capable.
This is a critical time: 28% of new hires quit in the first 90 days, primarily because companies don’t have a structured onboarding process. If she feels overwhelmed and unsupported, she’s more likely to leave, which means you have to start this process all over again. It’s worth the investment to ensure that the onboarding and training process goes on as long as it needs to (and that could be months).
Constant feedback from her supervisor, as well as regular check-ins from you, can ensure she feels empowered to do her job well. Talk to others she works with to make sure she seems up to the tasks she’s responsible for. The more effort you make to ensure that your new hire feels engaged and capable, the longer she will stay with your company.
Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding are neverending responsibilities for an HR manager. But with systems and processes in place, all of these become that much easier, and set up new hires for great success. Employees that feel empowered in the early weeks and months at a company are more likely to feel engaged and work hard for the brand.