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10 Expert Recruiting Tips Every Small Business Should Know

Jun 13, 2019

One year as a recruiter, I hired over 200 employees. Given that one typically interviews an average of ten candidates to hire one, I likely interviewed candidates in the ballpark of two thousand (at least it felt like it!) 

To stay organized and ensure I hired quality candidates, I needed a process. With help from HR Branches' Reanna Werner (my mentor) and research of what top companies do, I was able to hone our process into a well-oiled machine!

I know first hand how many hats you wear as a small business owner and your limited time and resources. If you need the right hire yesterday, these recruiting tips will teach you how to set yourself up for success, ask the right questions, and increase your hiring efficiency.


First and Foremost:

1.     Build A Focused Job Description

A proper job description will keep you on track when searching for the right candidate with the experience you need.

Be sure to include any soft skills that are essential to success (i.e. communication skills for a sales position, leadership skills for a manager position, and so on.) 

Do you have the time to mentor an inexperienced employee or do you need someone that can hit the ground running? Include years of experience or education needed for the role.


2.     Create An Interview Guide 

An interview guide is a tool with pre-determined questions based on the technical skills, education and experience, and soft skills needed for the position. This will keep you focused during the interview and help you maintain consistency in comparing candidates answers and qualifications.

*For each interview, add the candidate's resume, application, and your snazzy job description for reference.

We have sample interview guides, premium interview questions, and other great recruiting resources for HR Branches Online Members. Head over to HR Branches Store and become a member today!


3.     Strategically Advertise to Save Money

Posting a job ad can be very expensive. Posting on Indeed starts at $300, and increases from there. Often times you can save a small fortune by getting creative in where you advertise.  Here are a few ideas to save you some cash during your recruiting adventure.  

Post on Social Media

 If you have a business page or are a part of different local groups that allow such posts. Posting on your business page or in groups can be a free alternative to paying the potentially high fees of a Facebook ad (although Facebook ads are worth considering if you don't get any traction from your posts)

Local Colleges

Every college has alumni boards you can post to (usually for free) and are great resources for interns if they have a program related to that field.

Industry Associations

Think about industry associations that you belong to or apply to your industry. This is great (low cost) way to capture the interest of experienced professionals.

Employee Referral Program

Employee Referrals are often the best way to hire great employees. Most current employees will not refer a candidate without being 100% confident that they will not be embarrassed, so your chances for a bad referral is quite low. Referral bonus can be very helpful in encouraging employees to send you great candidates.


4.     Get Creative

Traditional job postings with only job duties will fade into the background. What is the selling point of this job? What do your employees love about your business? Bring your culture into the description and paint a picture for your ideal candidate: do you have a laid-back atmosphere with weekend team bbq’s or an annual skiing trip? Do you offer flexible working hours or student loan repayment benefits? If you do, highlight it!


5.     Screen, Screen, And Screen Again

Narrow down your applicant list to those candidates that meet the minimum requirements and that you want to take VALUABLE time to learn more about.

Your first interview is generally a phone interview and lasts about 10-15 minutes. Review their resume and fill in any gaps or answer any questions you have. Your ultimate goal is clarity and weeding out the ones that are obviously not a fit.

We recommend you choose your best 8-10 candidates for this round of interviews.

On-Site: Your second interview will be an in-person interview and typically lasts between 30-60 minutes. During this time, utilize your new professional interview guide

We recommend you choose the top 2-3 candidates for this round of interviews.

In most cases, you should be able to decide on the best candidate at this point. However, if you are struggling to reach a final decision, invite your top 3 choices back for a second on-site interview to meet with the team and ask any follow up questions.

*Avoid looking up your applicants on social media as this can lead to bias and discrimination. Your goal is to find the best candidate for the position, not a lawsuit. Trust us on this one!


6.     Red Flags

During the interview process, you are going to see the candidates best side. Actually, this is the best you will ever get out of the employee.  If their "best" is non-communicative, generally uninterested, and always running late then how do you think they will be as an employee?  


7.     Personality is Potential 

You are looking for the right fit and a long term hire. Personality can be the difference between an employee complimenting your team and learning everything they can about your business or creating conflict and costing productivity.

Are they team players that like to fill in where needed? Do they like variety? Have they worked for small businesses before? Often times, candidates from corporate environments have a niche and don’t get the opportunity to break out. If they value training and flexibility, they may be a great investment for your business.


8.     Don’t Drag Your Feet

From posting an opening to hire, you should aim for two weeks to hire if possible, one month at the most. The longer the hiring process is, the more productivity you lose. Your time is valuable so as long as you maintain forward progress (without rushing and ending up with a bad hire), you can get back to growing your business. Remember, candidates often apply more than one place so if they don’t hear from you, they will likely accept an offer elsewhere.


9.     Follow Up

Congratulations, you have your top candidate! Remember to follow up with the rest of your candidates so they know where they stand (after your offer is accepted). You are selling your brand and establishing a reputation as an employer and a business. Word of mouth spreads quickly so this is a great opportunity to take candidates and turn them into raving fans!


10. Retain Your investment

Don’t flush all your hard work down the drain by letting your new employee sink or swim! They will likely swim right out the door and to an employer that will set them up for success. Establish a thorough onboarding program and check in with your new hire after 30 and 90 days to ensure they are transitioning well.

You should be feeling more confident in tackling recruitment and understand how to set yourself up for success in the hiring process, what to ask in the interview, and how you can increase your hiring efficiency.


You hired your new employee, now what? HR Branches has your back! Download our Free New Hire Checklist. 

New Hire Checklist


For more guidance and resources, become an HR Branches Member today! 

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Here's to your success!

Leah Walton

HR Branches


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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