Once you identify a role you need to fill in your business, it can seem like a bit of a slog to find the right people. In the short term, it might seem easier to just keep doing it yourself. But, in the long term, it’s a must—especially for your own sanity!
Whether you’re hiring someone on-staff or to do hourly freelance work, following the process we outline here will help you fill roles with ease without having to deal with thousands of unqualified people contacting you.
Avoid One-Click & Easy-Apply
“One-click” or “easy-apply” applications like those on Indeed.com are damaging for both the people hiring and the people looking to be hired. Candidates using these features tend to be passive and lazy. For the employers, you get a massive number of applications to weed through.
It’s absolutely not worth your time because the vast majority of these applicants aren’t going to be qualified. If you’re looking for a quality person to fill this role (which of course you are!), anyone who’s just clicking an easy-apply button and not doing anything else to learn about you, your business, the role, and what you’re looking for is not the type of person you want on your team.
Include Mini Tasks
Including mini tasks within the job description can help you weed out applicants who are unable to read and follow your instructions. For instance, if you say to apply at this email address and they use that one-click option, then guess what? Good news! You don’t have to look at any of those people.
One tactic is to include specific instructions for when they apply like to use the words “green smoothie” in the subject line. It can be something ridiculous and irrelevant to the role. The key is to see if the job seeker has read your entire job description and is following the instructions, which is important because, no matter what role you’re hiring for, you want someone who can follow basic instructions.
A business owner friend asks applicants to include their MBTI type. (That stands for Myers-Briggs Indicator Type.) This request gives some information about the applicant’s personality, but it also shows they took the time to research, take the test, and provide the answer to your mini task.
The person you hire is someone you want to be proactive—to do the research for something before they come to you with every little question.
Sometimes it’s tempting to consider candidates who followed some but not all the directions. But remember: If they can’t follow the tasks, then they’re not detailed-oriented and that’s someone you do not want on your team!
Set Up a Separate Email Address & Auto Response
This simple act can improve organization and make your life so much easier by ensuring your inbox won’t become flooded.
Set up an autoresponder that goes out every time someone sends an email to that address. It can say something like: “Thank you so much for applying! Due to the volume of applicants, we’ll only be able to reach out to people who are a good fit for this position. If that’s not you, thank you again for applying and best of luck in the future.” Keep it friendly and positive.
Do a Video Screening
Video screening is an important step to help you find out more about potential candidates, why they are interested in this role, and if they are a good fit for you and your company.
Ask candidates to send a Loom video so that you don’t actually have to get on a Zoom call or a phone call. Save the interaction (and your time!) for the next round of interviews.
In the video, we ask people to give us a background about them, about who they are, about their previous experience, and a description of their ideal position.
Screening questions tailored to the person’s role can give you a sense of how the candidate thinks and approaches things.
Do a Phone Screening
You may want to do a phone screening to dig in a little deeper. You can ask what types of projects are they working on and have they worked on in the past. Do they have favorite types of projects to work on? What excites them about this role? You want to understand why they interested in your company and working with you versus for someone else.
You want to see if they are a good fit both culturally and skill-wise. Getting them to describe in their own words the work that they’ve been doing and the work that they want to do can help you see if this is going to be a good fit.
If your team works remotely, ask the candidate if they have remote work experience. If so, what did they like and dislike about it? Do they like having autonomy to get things done or more collaboration and guidance?
Some other great questions include: How would you describe your communication style? How do you keep yourself organized? What would your current and previous supervisor tell me about you in one sentence?
Ask them to tell you what they know about your company. Obviously, you’re not expecting them to know everything about your company, but they should have a baseline understanding of who you serve, what you’re offering, what your service or product is, etc.
You should expect people to have questions about the role. If they come with ideas for your business already, that’s great! If the only question they ask is how much time off they get, that’s a red flag.
Aim for your call to last 15 or 20 minutes. This shouldn’t be a big time investment.
Give Them a Test
Testing that is geared toward the role gives you further insight into the skill set and capabilities of potential candidates. Use an activity pertinent to the role for which they are applying that will take anywhere from a half hour to an hour.
If candidates say that they don’t have this information about your business yet so here are some additional questions that they would want answers to before they could complete the task then that gives insight into their thought process, which is wonderful!
Give them enough directions that they can complete the task but don’t overexplain it because you want to give them room to come back with questions. It is truly the A-players who come back with questions who say, “based on what you gave me, this is what I would do, but I’d also want to know X, Y, Z.”
Pay Them To Take the Test
Don’t ask applicants to do all this work for free! (Also, if there’s any chance that you could use anything that any of these candidates give you, you are morally obligated to pay them.)
Paying people for this test says something very positive about your business and about the way that you treat your teams.
Give the test to only the cream of the crop of the people who passed your phone screening. That’s likely a maximum of six people. Depending on how much you’re paying them, you’re probably looking at $50 an hour. So, okay, it could cost you a couple hundred bucks. But it’s a small investment to help ensure that you get the best possible candidates!
Also, you don’t want to lose your best candidates just because you were asking them to do free work.
Ask How Long the Test Took
Asking candidates to tell you how long they spent on the paid test can be another indicator of whether this person is a good fit for the role.
Some applicants may spend way too much time on something trying to do their very best. But you’ll also get candidates who complete something a lot faster than they should.
Time is not a perfect indicator by any means, but it should be something that you factor in. You can’t just look at quality. You need to bring on someone who does amazing work but also does it in a reasonable timeframe.
Conduct the Final Interview
You should be getting down to two or three candidates. The last step is to interview them.
Asking situational questions in the final interview allows you to see the candidate’s thinking and how they would handle themselves within your company.
More open-ended questions allow you to see a candidate’s thinking. Do they have examples that they can pinpoint? These types of questions show what and how someone would handle themselves within your company.
Ask a potential candidate about a time that they failed. How did they handle it? Did they own up into it? Did they apologize for the mistake and then fix it? You don’t want someone who just says they never fail. Or it wasn’t their fault. Or who puts the blame elsewhere. You want someone who takes ownership for their work. Someone who is open to learning, growing, and fixing the mistake.
Situational questions really help get at how they would truly react. The more that you can make a situational question about something that would actually happen in their position, the better. Look at things that have happened in your company, maybe places where people have dropped the ball, and ask the candidate what they would have done in that situation.
Those situational questions give you insight into how people truly act when things happen in the moment because so much of business happens in the moment.
When you follow this process, filling a role with the right person is so much easier than without it. And it is also so crucial that you take all these steps because they will help weed out the people who are not the ones who are meant to be on your team. You and your business deserve A-players!
On this episode of the Energize Your Online Business podcast, hosts Nicki and Kate dig deeper into finding the right person to hire for your business and some practical strategies to narrow down the applicant pool.
Do you have any successful hiring strategies you can share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!