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Every business runs on human capital. Likewise, the cost of finding and keeping high-quality talent is a significant expense, both in terms of time and money. A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that it takes 42 days at an average cost of $4,129 per employee for an employer to bring on a new hire. If the new hire doesn’t stay long, the cost to onboard new employees rises accordingly. It’s crucial to get it right.

More often than not these days smart companies are seeing the connection between their hiring process and employee longevity by putting considerable thought into how they screen and interview applicants. From the starting gate to the finish line, having a clearly-defined interview process that aligns with your company’s values and prioritizes the most important skills for each position helps to ensure a smooth and fruitful experience for job applicants as well as your staff.

You want your entire hiring process to be well defined and structured. Here are some best practices for crafting and executing a strategy that works:

Be clear about who and why you are hiring
Develop a detailed job description for each position with the hiring manager. Make sure to revise the job descriptions if the exact requirements and expectations of the position have changed. Define each new hire’s reporting relationships and necessary skill sets. Know how each employee contributes to the well being and profitability of the company. Make sure you have a process for assessing whether every applicant, regardless of their title, aligns with your company’s culture.

Determine how you will evaluate and measure applicants
All of these questions are essential to answer: What materials will you require upfront from an applicant? Will you use screening questions, preliminary video chats, personality tests, skills assessments (or all of the above) to judge aptitude and fit? Will you have weighted criteria for each open position? Can you place applicants in a “real life” situation to double check your initial conclusions?

Make sure both screening and interview process is streamlined, efficient and customized
Screening, for example, is as important as the interview process itself. Who will do the screening to really make sure you are interviewing the best candidates? In addition, the number and types of interviews you conduct will likely change depending upon the requirements and complexity of each position. Look at which staff members need to interview your top candidates and the purpose of each stage of the interview process. Respect everyone involved. Don’t waste your time or your applicants’ time.

It has been said that how a potential employer treats candidates during the hiring process is indicative of how they will treat a person once he or she is hired. Not having a professional, effective and personable process can lead to negative candidate experiences and can reflect badly on your firm’s brand and reputation. It may prevent the best candidates from saying “yes” to your offers of employment.

So, save everyone time, money and frustration by making your hiring process one of the most focused activities in your company. Paying close attention to the details before and during the process can make onboarding fun and productive for all involved.