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Hiring 101: How To Hire the Right Employees

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 06/29/2023

a hiring manager interviewing a potential employee

Table of Contents

There are multiple phases and requirements when hiring employees for your business. Learn about the requirements for hiring and how to hire employees effectively.

Knowing what's required to effectively hire employees may be among a business's strongest assets. With the high demand for quality workers, recruiting and hiring qualified employees can become time-consuming and expensive. Establishing and following a methodical hiring process can help to ensure you're getting an employee who is a good fit for the role and your business culture. That's why it's vital for employers to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to bring new employees on board.

Before You Start: Ensure Your Business Is Prepared To Hire New Employees

When hiring new employees, the importance of preparation can't be overstated. Before posting any "help wanted" announcements, start by making sure your business is internally prepared. You'll want to carefully evaluate the details of the role that you need to fill. Having all the necessary information prepared will not only keep your business compliant but also send a message to your new hire that your business is organized and efficient.

Here are some key pieces to prepare before beginning the recruitment phase:


As you prepare to hire new staff, take time to carefully assess exactly what you need your new employees to do. Be realistic about expectations. Are compensation and responsibilities commensurate with job requirements? What skill sets are necessary and what can be learned on the job? Do you have realistic expectations for candidates? You will also need to research the most current federal, state, and local laws that govern employee and employer tax requirements, anti-discrimination, and salary transparency to make sure your hiring practices are up to date.

New Hire Paperwork

Be prepared for your new hire by having any necessary paperwork ready to go. This will include many of the following:

  • W-4 form to provide you with their paycheck tax withholdings.
  • Form I-9 to verify identity and employment eligibility.
  • Direct deposit form if you offer this to employees.
  • Employee handbook so your new hire has easy access to information about key workplace issues, company policies, benefits, and culture.
  • Acknowledgement forms that confirm your new hire has read and understands all the necessary documents.
  • Consent to drug testing form if applicable to your business and allowable by law.


The Hiring Process: Steps to Hiring an Employee

Your workers are one of your business's most important assets and bringing on new hires merits the time and attention this process demands. In fact, the hiring process begins long before the search for candidates. It starts with an internal business evaluation and continues well past your new hire's first days on the job.

Knowing how to hire an employee is a distinct skill and there is a learning curve to achieving optimal results. The following eight steps typically involved in hiring an employee can be a guide to help you avoid mistakes or refresh your memory on the many details that are part of this important process.

1. Evaluate the Needs of the Business

It's challenging to focus on hiring employees if you are unclear about the needs of the business or the position itself. Employers should identify where there are talent gaps in the business and the need for one or more employees.

A job analysis can help identify the skills, knowledge, education, abilities, and experience the ideal candidate should possess to perform a specific job. Your challenge is to determine the level of work experience needed, as well as the appropriate levels of education, training, and/or need for certification. One tip: when possible, assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals who have successfully performed this role, and factor relevant criteria into the job analysis. However, it's also important to analyze the position and how someone could effectively perform in it, not just those who have previously held the job. For comparative purposes, consider also researching similar roles and responsibilities from other companies or positions.

2. Create a Job Description

Attracting qualified candidates often hinges on a carefully crafted and accurate job description. To identify the details that will shape your job description, answer questions such as:

  • What specific duties and essential functions will the role entail?
  • What skill sets, education, or experience will the person need to succeed in the role and add value to your business?
  • Where will the person work, and during what hours? Will they be remote, fully in-person, or a hybrid of the two?
  • What tools, software, or technology resources will the employee be provided to do the job?
  • Is travel required?

Also pay close attention to:

  • Job title: Be sure the job title is consistent with similar positions in the marketplace. The job title should not reference or imply discrimination based on any protected characteristic (e.g., gender or age).
  • Key responsibilities, skills, and qualifications: A concise but appropriately detailed listing of essential and secondary functions gives candidates a better idea of what the position entails.
  • Formatting/style: Stay away from long, rambling sentences, and instead look to make the wording easy to review and comprehend. Use bullet points and present-tense verbs.

In general, the more accurate your job description, the better you can maintain parameters around the types of skills or experiences you'll consider as minimum requirements, so you can quickly screen out applicants who lack the necessary skills for the role. The more detailed you are in your description, the more likely it may be that you will attract applicants who are qualified, eager, and excited to help your business succeed.

You should also inform applicants if the work is or can be performed remotely. Flexibility in the workplace can be an enticing perk and a valuable recruiting tool, which we've seen as businesses grapple with labor shortages. If you do allow for remote work, you may also want to include certain skill sets needed for successful remote work, such as good communication skills.

3. Find Qualified Candidates

You know precisely what the job entails, but what about the process of attracting qualified job candidates to fill the position? The best hiring solutions include a comprehensive strategy to attract the right job seekers from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:

  • Employee referrals: Who do your current employees know that might fit the bill?
  • Online job postings: Make use of online employment sites to advertise the position.
  • Networking: Turn to your professional network or friends for leads on qualified candidates.
  • Consider past candidates: If their prior information is still available to you and they are qualified for an available position, consider reaching out to previous candidates to gauge their interest in reconsidering your company.
  • Advertise on your company website: Consider drafting a compelling statement on your "Join Our Team" page, "selling" prospective employees on your company's vision, mission, and values. Let job seekers know what sets your business apart from others, and why it's such an attractive place to work. And make it as easy as possible for interested candidates to submit their application.

Keep in mind that state and/or local laws may require you to disclose the expected pay range and benefits to job applicants. This disclosure may be required as early as in the job posting, while other pay transparency laws may require that this information be made available upon request, at the point of an interview or at the time an offer is made.

Following some or all these steps regarding how to recruit new employees can greatly impact the time and resources you expend in search of a great job candidate.

4. Strategically Interview Applicants

After you identify candidates for the position, having a well-planned interview strategy can help you uncover useful information during the process. When developing your interview approach, consider the following steps:

  • An initial submission: This could be a simple cover letter or a list of answers to several specified questions. This requirement can help screen out candidates who may be applying for any open positions and help identify those who are interested in the job you are looking to fill.
  • A comprehensive interview: Interviews should include a mixture of questions designed to assess the candidate's skills, as well as gauge a potential fit within the company's culture. An interview should also inform the candidate about the open position and the company as a whole. Be prepared to offer this type of commentary to ensure a better employer-employee match. It's also important to train supervisors and those who will serve as interviewers on discrimination laws and provide instruction on appropriate interviewing questions.
  • Remote interview prep, if needed: When an interview is taking place remotely, you may want to make slight adjustments. Questions remain consistent, but the tone of the interview may need to change when the conversation takes place over a video or phone call. For instance, a candidate who may be home may experience interruptions during the interview. Communicate and have patience if the interviewee needs to take a quick break or step away from the call to close the door. If you're open to hiring remote workers, ask the candidates about their experience working from home and if they believe they can thrive in this type of environment.
  • Keep candidates in the loop: Keep your candidates in the loop after the interview and set post-interview expectations of when they can expect to hear from you. Sticking to your discussed timeline may help you avoid losing candidates to other employers.
  • Interview follow-up: Gather feedback from everyone involved in the process to help you decide your next steps in regard to each candidate.

While you may hope to find your perfect candidate and get them working quickly, rushing the interview process may result in a poor match for your company, a candidate who doesn't fully understand the demands of the job, or lost time and wages in having to replace an under-qualified worker.

5. Conduct Background and Reference Checks

When you're down to your top candidate who may seem suited for an open position and you’re ready to make an offer of employment, consider the benefits of extending a contingent job offer subject to a thorough background check. A background check may include verifying certain information the candidate has on their resume, such as educational credentials and prior work experience. You could also consider contacting any references the candidate has provided.

If you’re going to conduct a background check, the candidate must authorize it as part of the hiring process through a separate release form. This will allow you to make the necessary inquiries. Additionally, know that federal, state, and/or local laws may restrict the information employers are permitted to obtain and/or use in an employment decision. Learn more about pre-employment background check laws and regulations.

The cost of unsuccessful hires can be staggering, both in terms of money lost and having a demoralizing effect on the workplace. Avoid typical hiring mistakes — such as overlooking the potential of internal candidates or skipping background checks — by working closely with an HR professional.

6. Selecting a Candidate With the Desired Qualities

Depending on the role and responsibilities, there are going to be certain qualities to look for when hiring an employee. You may want to ask internal employees to recommend questions that relate to the type of work the individual would be responsible for in your business. For instance, if it's a programming position, questions should be technical in nature. Roles in a creative department might yield questions about how to manage a brand or run a marketing campaign. Managers should know about leadership and communications.

There is more to a job than completing a series of tasks. Your new hire may need to work as a team member in your business and feel enthusiastic about their role in it. But instead of thinking only about the right fit for your culture, think about how a new employee can enhance or add to it. Hiring a new employee is an opportunity to strengthen your workforce, so it can be helpful to look for candidates who bring a perspective and experience that your business lacks. Consider also how diversity and inclusion in the workplace can strengthen your business with increased innovations, improved performance, and greater engagement.

7. Extending the Job Offer

A thorough interview process will hopefully help you and your team select a great candidate who can bring the right qualifications and values to the business. Once you feel confident in your decision, the next steps in selecting a job candidate often include:

  • Making a contingent job offer and sharing compensation package details: Often a member of human resources or a hiring manager will contact the candidate directly to extend a job offer. This may be accompanied by a formal letter or communication that includes specific details about the candidate's total compensation package (pay, benefits, perks, etc., if this information isn't required to be disclosed before the offer stage). It may also include details regarding the contingencies, such as a background check or drug test where applicable, and the candidate's proposed start date.
  • Negotiating, if necessary: If the candidate comes back with a counteroffer on pay or benefits, there may be a period of negotiations. It's important to have concrete deadlines set for both parties to keep the selection process moving along.
  • Informing other candidates: The ways in which you turn down other candidates can speak volumes about your recruiting process. Aim for clear, timely, and professional communication, rather than long delays or a lack of follow-up. Consider the possibility that candidates may be a fit for a different role in the future, which is why it's important to give them a positive experience with your company.

8. Effectively Onboard Your Chosen Employee

After the interview process, onboarding sets the tone for your employee’s experience with your business. Set them up for success by encouraging engagement and commitment from day one. Generally, a new employee will have many questions. A welcoming environment complete with an orientation session and a peer mentor can help them feel more comfortable with their new colleagues and new role. It's also up to you to make sure they have the right training and equipment to do their job.

Onboarding should continue for a number of weeks after the start date. Frequent check-ins (especially for remote workers), feedback, and opportunities to get to know about company culture and learning opportunities can strengthen their ability to develop and be productive. Strong, healthy relationships and communications now often pay dividends in terms of long-term growth and loyalty.

Additional Considerations When Hiring Employees

An important note when hiring an employee: some jurisdictions may have specific new-hire notification requirements. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • Paid sick leave notifications.
  • Wage-theft prevention and unemployment notices.
  • Sexual harassment and workers' compensation pamphlets.

It's particularly important to review your policies with your HR professional — including sick leave and paid time off — prior to hiring new employees to be sure the company is in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

When in Doubt, Over-Communicate

Don't forget that communication is key. In the wake of COVID-19, many companies have permanently adopted flexible work schedules, remote work, and hybrid work arrangements along with traditional in-office staff. During the process of hiring employees, make sure to clearly explain acceptable work arrangements for their role. This information could be important in a candidate's decision to accept your offer. Once hired, checking in often with your off-site employees can go a long way in helping them feel connected to your business. Additionally, if your business has special protocols, such as a dog-friendly office or a specific dress code, communicating these upfront during the employee hiring process can lay the groundwork for a candidate's expectations of what work will be like on a day-to-day basis.

Hiring Remote Workers

The hiring process may include specific steps for remote workers. All new hires will likely need to receive company orientation and training. While those who work in the physical workplace may receive this onsite, consider whether remote workers will need to come into the workplace or whether they can complete it online. You may also want to make sure that remote employees are added to the company's online discussion groups and welcomed by their new co-workers. All remote employees should be transitioned onto company technology platforms and assigned any equipment required to perform their jobs from a remote location.

With all of these considerations in mind, learn more about the benefits of streamlining the new employee onboarding process, including the benefits of automating employee onboarding for both onsite and offsite team members.

Investing in Inbound Recruiting

Consider inbound recruiting — an online strategy that can position businesses to attract the most qualified candidates by making themselves stand out and having potential candidates come to them. Inbound recruitment strategies include:

  • Cultivating a social media presence: This includes posting fresh, relevant content on a regular basis to capture job seekers' attention. This can be a great way to build relationships with people you may ultimately want to hire.
  • Optimizing your website: Google now ranks websites based in part on their optimization for mobile viewing, one of many reasons to ensure that your site loads quickly and easily for on-the-go job candidates.
  • Making your careers page an exciting place to visit: Getting a job seeker to visit your careers page is just the first step. Once there, it's imperative that the prospective candidate finds an up-to-date compilation of job listings and useful information on how to apply. You may also want to consider including a direct link to an HR staff member to empower applicants to take action and stay connected.

The more you can spread the word about job openings, the greater the likelihood of recruiting employees with the type of skills and qualifications you are seeking.

Applicant Tracking Systems

If you've successfully leveraged the recruiting solutions mentioned above, you will hopefully receive a significant number of job applications. How can you keep track of them and, more importantly, identify the most qualified candidates?

Technology has transformed the recruiting process. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) comprised of computer algorithms can now parse large amounts of job applicant data at a far greater speed than humans can to detect patterns of behavior, candidate qualifications, and even keywords that can add visibility to job postings. ATS can also help gather insights into metrics around open positions, number of days it took to fill the position, the number of applications received, interviews conducted, and jobs offered, allowing your company to streamline and optimize each step of the employee hiring process. Even basic yet essential steps such as forwarding resumes to a hiring manager can be automated, helping to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

By having a paperless recruiting and applicant tracking system, your business can save time and potentially reduce costs by making it easier for HR managers and others involved in the hiring process to analyze the information they receive from job seekers — and ultimately identify candidates worth pursuing more efficiently.

Please note that legislation regulating the use of algorithms and AI in the hiring process is on the rise and employers should be sure to comply with applicable laws on this topic.

The Importance of Hiring the Right Employee

The importance of hiring the right employee cannot be overstated. Whether working behind the scenes, on the phone or computer, managing accounts, or providing customer-facing services, your employees put a face and personality to your business, brand, and reputation. They are responsible for the innovations, creativity, work ethic, and skill sets that propel your business forward. Conversely, a poor choice can negatively affect productivity and morale. Investing in hiring the right employees and treating them well throughout their tenure is a long-term investment in engagement, loyalty, retention, and profitability.

How Hiring Services Can Help

Looking for additional guidance on how to improve your hiring and recruiting process? Hiring services can provide innovative solutions as well as reliable, actionable HR advice to help you understand how to recruit and hire qualified candidates for your roles, uncover important information about potential employees, and welcome new hires in a way that makes an impact. Beyond hiring, learn how Paychex HR services can provide assistance to help with your business's current and future HR challenges.



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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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