High-Level Tips on Forming Your Hiring Process

Alison Webb

Hiring policies help organizations hire the best candidates possible. Public organizations have a duty to be open, fair and accountable, so the best hiring process is one that is both transparent and gets the right candidate in the door.

The first step of any good process is the prep work. Start with your job descriptions. To ensure all of your needs are met, the job description must spell out the qualifications you are looking for. Include all essential job duties and remove all vague or unnecessary items. As a general and fair practice, you will consider all applicants who meet your minimum qualifications. This can take a considerable amount of time if your minimum qualifications are vague. Reviewing and revising the job description beforehand will ensure you are not wasting your time or the time of potential applicants with qualifications that do not meet your needs. In addition, the person you hire will ultimately be evaluated and succeed in your organization based on that document.

Next, make sure your application says what you need it to say. Avoid categories such as age, marital status, children and disability. The application is aimed at a person’s ability to do the job and will be used as your baseline for bringing that applicant in for an interview. Always include the following two questions on your application:

Do you understand the essential functions of the job you are applying for?

Can you perform this job with or without a reasonable accommodation?

Including these questions on the application confirms to you that a candidate knows what they are signing up for and gives you a heads up about whether you may need to provide some type of accommodation. (However, avoid all questions about what kind of accommodation may be needed or what disability a candidate may have. Save those subjects until after a job offer has been made.) Also include an authorization statement at the end of your application confirming the candidate has provided truthful information.  Include details on your background check process in writing; if possible, spell out the process in the authorization statement of your application.

When advertising for a position (whether on-line, in the newspaper or on a bulletin board in your town hall), be sure to outline pre-employment requirements such as drug screenings, criminal background and credit checks and pre-employment physicals that will be required once a conditional offer is given. Determine who will be tested and why, and then put it in writing. This way, applicants are aware of these requirements. A policy on physicals and drug-testing should be fair and consistent, just like everything else.

Structure your process so there is as little redundancy as possible. Create a central point for application submission so there is never any confusion about where the applications will be dropped off and picked up by the hiring department. Establish how and where you will accept applications so everyone in your organization can provide applicants with the correct information.

Have your policy reviewed by counsel. They will ultimately have to defend it, so they should know what it says. They will be able to guide you away from bad practices. There are also a myriad of excellent employment law resources and training opportunities throughout the state for further details on all of this information.

Once your policy is complete, consistent and reviewed by counsel, train your people! Everyone can use a refresher on the dos and don’ts of interviewing and hiring. Providing the policy and an interview guide is helpful. By giving your supervisors and department heads the correct tools, you will ensure that your process is followed and that your organization is well equipped to hire the best person for the job.

Alison Webb is the Human Resources Director for the City of Dover, New Hampshire.