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9 Steps to Hiring Your First Employee

Hiring your first employee is a big deal, especially if you have a new business. You’re probably super-excited and nervous at the same time. You know that you have to find the perfect person, someone who will be an asset to your business and help it grow, and you don’t want to make the wrong choice. 

If you have never hired someone before, this can be a daunting task. However, there are steps that you can follow that will help guide you along the way.   

#1. Define the position your hiring for 

When hiring someone, you should be clear on what the role you’re hiring for requires and who you would consider as an ideal candidate. Not being clear from the start will lead to issues down the road. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then how will you know when you find the right person.

Before you start the hiring process, define what the role entails. The skills an employee would need to succeed, the expectations of the position, and the character of person that the role requires. Once you have this nailed, you can write a more compelling job description, which brings us to the next step. 

#2 Write a compelling job description 

You should approach writing a job description as if you were delivering a sales pitch. However, instead of trying to land a sale, you want to land the perfect candidate. Your description should grab the candidate’s attention and keep them interested enough to read it completely and entice them to take action. 

Here are some tips for nailing your description: 

No buzz words: Buzzwords like ‘rockstar,’ ‘ninja,’ super-star, or ‘awesome.’ are used to death in job titles and descriptions, and they have now become tiring, uninspiring, and so cliche.

No need for minute details: Set-out only the main expectations, responsibilities, and must-haves for the role, there is no need to go into every little detail. Some job descriptions read like a long (endless) shopping lists that no one wants to read.

Big up your company. It’s a job candidates market, and today’s employees want more than just a pay good paycheck. So, highlight your company culture, work environment, work-life balance, and the perks and benefits.

Sell the role itself. The candidate should know that they are joining a company that is going somewhere, and that will be making a difference and an impact on that journey. You want them to feel like their role is key to the success of the company.

#3 Post your vacancy 

Once you craft a compelling job description, its time to advertise the position and get your vacancy in from of potential candidates. Thankfully, there are lots of platforms where you can post your opening.  

Some of the top job platforms include Glassdoor, Craigslist, and LinkedIn. In addition to the big employment websites, post the position on local job boards. The more places you advertise the role, the more potential candidates that will attract. 

The key to a successful job advertisement is the headline. Potential candidates will see this before they read the actual description. In your title, include the name of the position and use words that will make the title pop to a potential applicant. For example, instead of writing’ sales rep,’ write ‘dynamic sales professional,’ or instead of ‘content writer,’ write ‘a content wordsmith.’ 

#4 Read resumes carefully

After posting your open position across multiple platforms and job boards, hopefully, you will have a lot of resumes. However, when reviewing these resumes, you have to be ruthless in separating the wheat from the chaff. 

Below are some pointers to help you review resumes more effectively:

Have a checklist: Create a checklist of the minimum skills, work experience, and education that a candidate needs. Use this list as your guide when reading resumes, any candidates that don’t meet this minimum standard go straight in the no pile.

Separate the maybe’s from the definite yes’s. When reading resumes, some candidates will go straight to your yes pile. However, others, while not a hard yes, might still give you pause to consider. Put these resumes in a maybe pile and come back to them later for a second review.

Look for red flags. Job hopping, gaps in employment, significant changes in career directions are potential red flags. Hiring someone that will leave your company after a year, or get bored with the role is something that you want to avoid. Such red flags are not always a deal-breaker but require further scrutiny.

Words matter. Some candidates might use vague language to hide a lack of experience or knowledge. Phrases such as “helped,” “proficient in,” or “familiar with” raise more questions than answers. Someone who “helped” the marketing team to reach thirty percent year on year growth, might only have attended meetings, without actually contributing anything.

#5 Pre-screen potential candidates 

Been ruthless in your reviewing of resumes is the first step of screening for the right candidates. However, once you have separated the wheat from the chaff and identified your top picks for the position, the next step is a pre-screening interview. This will help you whittle down your list of potential candidates even further.  

A pre-screening interview is usually done by phone and typically lasts 20-30 minutes. On this call, you want to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the role and the company. According to Glassdoor, there are five critical questions you should ask in a pre-screening interview.

  • Is the candidate comfortable with the location of the company
  • What are their salary and compensation expectations 
  • Why do they want to work for your company
  • How will they apply their skills to the position
  • What are they looking for in a manager

After the pre-screening process, you will have a final list of candidates that you can move to an in-person interview. 

#6 Interview your top candidates 

Now that you have picked your topic candidates, its time for interviews. 

The purpose of an interview is to assess the skills, qualifications, character, and personality traits of candidates, and you do this by asking questions. 

Some basic interview questions include: 

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why are you interested in this position
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What’s your greatest professional achievement
  • Describe your ideal work environment

These are just the top of the surface questions. However, to get deep insights into the candidate, you will have to ask more strategic questions – Monster has a list of over 100 here.

While there are lots of questions you should definitely ask in an interview, there are some that you can’t because they are not in accordance with the employment laws laid down by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To ensure you don’t set yourself up for a lawsuit, become familiar with these questions, you can read some of them here in this post from

#7 Check references 

By this stage of the process, you should have one or maybe two candidates that you think are a great fit. They have ticked all the boxes so far. However, before you seal the deal and make an offer, check their references. 

Checking references is not just about verifying the skills, experience, and qualifications of the candidate, but it’s also an opportunity to find out more about their character. 

Here are some questions you should ask: 

  • How long as the candidate worked for you?
  • Can you confirm the candidate’s job title, responsibilities?
  • What it’s like to work with them?
  • Why did they leave the position?
  • What are their biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would you describe their reliability and dependability?
  • What type of work environment do they thrive best in, and why?
  • Why should I hire this candidate?

Ideally, look for at least two or three references from previous employers. If the role is management level or security-sensitive, you might also ask for character references from former teachers, clients, or business acquaintances. 

#8 Make an offer

After checking references, and if you’re happy with the feedback, you can move to the final step of the process, which is making the offer. Depending on the role, the offer process might be straightforward or more complex, requiring final negotiations over bonuses, fuel allowances, holidays, etc. 

Once you and the candidate agree to terms verbally, send an official offer letter, which contains the position of the candidate, the salary, benefits, start date, etc.

Before sending the official offer letter, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice from an attorney to ensure that everything is above board and that you have not left yourself open for any unwanted legal repercussions. 

#9 Onboard your new employee 

You have made the offer, and your candidate accepted, the final part of the step is onboarding your new employee. Onboarding is the process of familiarizing and integrating new hires into the company so that they feel at home, comfortable and up to speed with procedures and how everything works as soon as possible. 

The process typically includes but is not limited to: 

  • Providing the new hire with the necessary tools and equipment 
  • Providing them with an employee handbook 
  • The completion of new hire paperwork
  • Training sessions if required
  • Informing them about cultural activities 

Don’t wait until the first day to begin the onboarding process. Call the employee a few days before they are due to start. In the call, express your excitement that they are joining you, inform them of what they should do and expect upon arrival, and ask them if they have any questions or queries. 

Now you’re ready to hire

Hiring the right employee is so important. Choosing the right person for the role will help push your business forward. On the flip side, the wrong person can drag your business backward. With this in mind, it’s essential not to rush the hiring process. Take your time and ensure that the person you choose ticks all the boxes, both professionally and personally. 

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