How to Hire Rockstar Employees

Growing a business is challenging, but it’s easier when you have a team supporting the process. Making your first hire as a startup is exciting. It means you’ve got the very basics figured out, and you’re taking your business to the next level.
Getting the right team on board is a crucial part of growing your business. Employees don’t just need to be qualified on paper. They need to fit with the culture you’re hoping to build, understand your company’s values and goals, and buy into the growth of your business. Finding the best employees starts with having the best hiring process possible.
Most small business owners are first-time employers, so it can be overwhelming to start figuring out the hiring process. Whether you fit that category, or if you just want to make sure your process will give you rockstar employees, make sure you follow these key steps.

Start With Understanding Your Needs

Job descriptions are underrated. To some entrepreneurs, they may seem unnecessary and cumbersome. Don’t be fooled by these myths. Writing a job description has uses for both the employer and the employee. They help to provide a double check for small businesses: “Do we really need to hire?” Even better, they help determine in which capacity to hire: “Should we be looking for a full-time or a part-time employee?”
It’s not enough to have three bullet points of what you vaguely want your new employee to do. The most effective job descriptions delve into the details of the role and what you require of applicants. This will help weed out some candidates who would otherwise waste your time, and attract candidates who are serious about your company.
As a startup, you’ll likely need your first employees to wear multiple hats.  Make sure you’re clear about this in the job description and when interviewing as well.

Finding your Rockstars

Now that you know who and why you need to hire, the obvious next step will be to find candidates. While there are always great new ways of getting the word out about your opportunity (like your social media pages), here are the basics:

Posting a Job Opening

A job description that sits in depths of your laptop isn’t useful to anyone. The first step in getting the word out is to post your job description on relevant websites (including your own!).
In determining where to post the job, consider your target employee. Are they fresh out of college? Are they looking specifically for a startup job? Are you trying to attract people who would typically apply at larger companies as well? Various job-hunting websites attract specific markets, so make sure you scope out what other employers have added to the platform.
You can also use social media to post an opportunity. After adding a post on your own website, be sure to share this on your social media channels like LinkedIn or Facebook. Great candidates could find your business in a huge variety of ways.

Application Process Do’s and Don’ts

There is no standard application process. Instead, your process should be directly correlated with what you are looking for in your new role. That means you, as an employer, need to be crystal clear on what that is. (Meaning, have a job description. Are you tired of hearing that yet?)
While a cover letter and resume are the standard requirements for most jobs, additional steps in the process are at your discretion. You could add questionnaires, references, or even several layers of interviews to your process. Be sure to match your process with the level of the role. (Don’t have four interviews for a barista!) The depth of your process should match the level of commitment you require from the candidate.
If you’re hiring for an hourly role, screen for the following information, as applicable:

  • weekly hours available & ideal schedule
  • open to travel or relocating
  • ability to lift a certain amount of weight
  • driver’s license or ability to commute
  • ability to perform job-related tasks
  • openness to overtime
  • previous job history
  • ability to work weekends and holidays

If you’re hiring for corporate employees, your hiring process might be a little less standard. You can ask for specific information to be included in the cover letter, or you can even ask for a series of short essays that are similar to the interview questions. However, don’t make the mistake of biting off more than you can chew. Only add the additional steps that you have time to act on.

How to Review Resumes

We’ve all heard the statistics on how long it takes recruiters to give a first-glance to a resume. Now, you get to be on their side. You won’t have time to thoroughly read ever resume you receive. Instead, scan and filter with the following qualifiers:

  • Does the resume have any glaring typos or grammar mistakes?
  • Has the candidate put time into their resume, showing attention to detail and care about their first impression? (Consider their layout and design.)
  • Is the candidate in or near the same city as you?
  • Has the candidate worked in your industry?
  • Are they at or close to the level you are hiring for?
  • Have they worked in the specific function you’re hiring for?
  • What degrees do they have?
  • How often have they changed jobs?
  • Have they achieved results? (Scan for numbers, percentages, and dollar signs.)

Using these qualifiers, pair down the number of resumes sitting on your desk until you have a manageable stack.  The longer it takes you to get to the interviewing process, the greater the chance a candidate you want might be on their way to a job with someone else.

How to Interview

Once you’ve found your short list of resumes, it’s time to move into the most compelling part of the hiring process: the interview.
The first thing to know is that interviews go both ways. This is not only an opportunity for you to assess the candidate but also for the candidate to assess you. Therefore, you should use the interview as an opportunity to share your culture and get them excited about their future work.
The ideal interview process includes multiple interviewers and pre-set form of assessment. Having a crystal-clear idea of what you’re looking for allows you to have an informal method to grade candidates upon.
During the interview, you should look out for these qualities: impact, ability to thrive in teams, accountability, analytical capabilities, comfort with uncertainty, and effective communication.
When communicating with candidates, be sure to:

  • explain the process in detail (although not your rubric)
  • be transparent about your timelines and goals
  • use the same process for all candidates

Conducting Background Checks

It’s a best-case-practice to conduct background checks on every person you hire. This helps to ensure that your company’s culture and assets are protected.
Some states require that a conditional offer of employment is made before conducting a background check. Even if your state does not have this requirement, you can still make the conditional offer to secure an employee before the background check is complete.
However, be careful not to use anything you discover to discriminate against an employee. There are strict laws from the EEOC that help ensure all employees are treated equally. If you choose not to employ someone because of their background, you should be prepared to verify that the “unemployable quality” would hamper your business. Regardless of your decision, you must keep records for at least one year after their creation. When you dispose of background reports, you must do so in a secure method.

What to Know Before Making Your Decision

Hiring can be a risky decision, both strategically and legally for your business. Before making your final decision, you should be aware of potential discrimination problems. This is a complex issue, so take the time to read in detail (available on StartBlox). Here are some of the basics.


As an employer, you are prohibited from preferring or disqualifying any potential employee based on ethnic background, gender, nationality, religion, etc. Any person can file charges with the EEOC reporting employment discrimination, so be careful to ensure everything is in line within your hiring process.

Hiring Friends and Family

Be extremely careful when working with friends and family. Consider how easy it will be for you to separate your personal from your business relationship before making your decision; it’s likely that office disputes could carry into your personal life, and vice versa. It is important that you will be able to offer feedback, advice, or even discipline your team.
Getting a rockstar team onboard with your small business could be the key to your success, so make sure you have a rockstar hiring process.

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