First time hiring? Start here.

You’ve realized it’s time to start building your team. So where do you start?

You’ve realized it’s time to start building your team. So where do you start? Fortunately, we’ve been around the block here. And we’ve learned a thing or two along the way so you don’t need to make the same mistakes. In this article, we’ll break down the universal hiring structure that most companies use to run a winning hiring program. We’ll guide you with the must-know details from the moment you realize you need to hire to onboarding that ideal candidate.

Start with the basics.

Before you dive in, think about what you’re looking for. Maybe you need more software engineers to build your product. Or perhaps a salesperson to start putting your product in the hands of customers. Whatever the reason, think about some of these questions:

  • What is the primary objective of this role?  
  • What are they expected to accomplish? Consider these milestones in time horizons of 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • What tasks will someone in this role perform?
  • What are the most important skills — functional and personal — that one would need to be successful in this role?

WhoCo’s role builder can help you with this! Simply create a role and select a template. From there, we’ll get you started with some skills that likely align with the role you’re hiring for. Our role templates were built by our HR Science team through analysis of thousands of job descriptions, along with data from surveys and interviews with hundreds of professionals.

Design and publish your job description

Alright! Now that you’ve put some thought into this role, you can consolidate your thinking into a job description. Your job description should not only fully outline the objectives, tasks, and skills required for the role, but also highlight highlight why someone would want to join your company and take on this role. It’s important to strike a balance between “selling” the role and your company and accurately portraying the reality and expectations of the role.

We recommend customizing your application to collect any information you will need to advance someone to interviews. This could include vetting questions around visa status, openness to relocation, or custom prompts around why someone is interested in the opportunity. While custom applications can give you better early signal on applicants, be respectful of applicants’ time. If your application takes too long (typically more than 15 minutes), you’ll likely lose out on top talent.

Imagine your ideal candidate

You know what kind of person you’re looking for. But before you go searching for people that fit the bill, it helps to narrow your search a bit by targeting a few specific traits. Consider the kind of profile you would expect your ideal candidate to have.

  • What job titles do people with the skills you’re looking for tend to have?
  • What companies have they worked at? This can be based on common traits with your company or team, such as industry, culture, reputation, or tech stack.

Remember: the ideal candidate profile isn’t a hard-line stance. Just a directional starting point for finding candidates that match your needs.

Some recruiters will do this exercise before writing a job description. We suggest doing this later to avoid narrowing the scope of your job description to a candidate profile, rather than the actual needs of the role. For instance, perhaps your software business is looking for a salesperson, where sales, relationship management, and organization are the most important skills. If you limit your job description to a candidate profile of just individuals with experience selling software, you’ll miss out on individuals with different work experience that possess those critical skills.

Reach talent

With your job description published, it’s not guaranteed that your ideal candidates will see it. You’ll need to put in some work to get the job description in front of the right people.

  • Post to relevant job boards. Nearly everyone looking for a new job starts on major platforms like LinkedIn, so posting there can be helpful in reaching a wide audience. But don’t stop there! You want your job posted to boards that your ideal candidate profile will be searching. Check out our job board explorer to find the right ones for you.
  • Ask for referrals from employees, investors, and your network.
  • Post the job on your social media channels (business and personal).
  • Share the job in relevant professional communities. There are tons of communities across platforms like Slack, Reddit, Discord, and Github that attract individuals in particular industries or job functions. Many of these communities even have dedicated channels to sharing open job opportunities.

Review applicants

The applications are flowing in. Be sure to take your time reviewing resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Consider how well each applicant’s experience matches up with the skills and responsibilities you’re looking for in this role. Be aware of any potential hiring bias you may have so that you can avoid letting it cloud your judgement.

Whether you’re receiving a few or a few hundred applications, be respectful of candidates’ time and effort by providing them a transparent response in a timely manner. Candidates want you to be real with them. It’s an effective way for them to learn from the application experience even if they’re not getting the job. We recommend responding on a decision to interview or deny within a week and urge you to never let a candidate’s application go unaddressed for more than two weeks. “Ghosting” candidates is a bad look and can damage your employer brand, something you really don’t want especially if you’re a small, growing company.

Interview candidates

Interviews are crucial to hiring. Don’t let these critical meetings go to waste. WhoCo guides you in running a structured interview process. Before you even start interviewing, we’ll help you create an interview plan, a standardized set of meetings and questions that will help you and the interview team get to the heart of what you’re looking for in every candidate interaction. This structured approach is proven to lead to an easier hiring process for all parties and results in more informed hiring decisions.  

WhoCo’s interview planning tool will help you outline every step of your interview process, including defining all the questions to cover before you even invite candidates to interview. Setting your interviews up in advance spares headache for you, the interviewers, and candidates. To top it all off, well-planned interviews are more likely to be structured and consistent, resulting in clearer signal . You can design interview plan however you see fit, but here is the typical interview process.

(1) Phone screen: 15-30 minute call with one member of the team
During this conversation, have the candidate share a little bit about themself and then provide a general overview of the role, the team, and the company. Be sure to highlight specifics about the expectations and responsibilities for the role, along with any exciting aspects to the position or company (e.g., first sales hire, long-term growth opportunities, upcoming funding round).

(2) Skills interview/assessment: 1-2 interviews with 1-2 members of the team, each lasting 30-60 minutes
In the next interview(s), you’ll evaluate the candidate’s skills against the criteria you’re looking for in the role. This could take the form of a work sample, in which the candidate walks the interviewer through a real-life assignment or in the form of a standard behavioral interview. Ultimately, this is where your skills-based job description comes into play. When you build your interview plan, WhoCo will recommend expert-vetted interview questions based on the role and skills you’re looking to assess. You’re panelists can choose from these questions or use them as inspiration to create their own. Trust us: that will save you and your interview panelist a whole lot of time.

(3) Team/Company fit interview: 1-2 interviews with 1-2 members of the team, each lasting 30 minutes
During this stage, you’re evaluating candidates on their values, their personal traits, and how that aligns with the culture of the team and company. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for someone exactly like you. This is an incredibly important step, often led by team/company leaders. Be sure to carve out time here for the candidate to ask questions and share anything they think you should know about them. This is also an important opportunity to highlight why your company is a great place to work.

Remember: while the primary goal of each interview is to evaluate the candidate’s fit for the role, team, or company, the candidate is always evaluating you and your company as well. It’s a two-way street, so be sure to put your best foot forward, stay organized, and be transparent. All candidates will appreciate it and you’ll be in a better position for that ideal candidate to accept your offer.

Throughout interviews be sure to listen for

  • The context
  • What they did
  • The result

Following every interview, record your feedback within WhoCo while your memory is still fresh. 

Make smart hiring decisions

When all feedback is submitted on a given candidate, we recommend debriefing with the interview team to discuss the feedback and thoughts on the candidate. Armed with consistent data in one easy-to-read scorecard, you can feel confident in your hiring decisions. 🎉