Small Businesses and the Hiring Process: 5 Tips

June 03, 2022
Checkr Editor

Five tips for finding, screening, and hiring the best fit.

As a small business, you want the employees you hire to stick around. But retention begins long before an employee shows up for their first day of work.

Recruiting employees and retaining employees are two intimately linked processes. Neither can function properly without the other. Here, we’ll look at five ways you can find and hire the best employees while setting the stage for long-term retention.

  • Define your expectations
  • Make a compelling offer
  • Leverage your existing relationships
  • Get to know your candidate
  • Take your time

By following these hiring best practices, you create the potential for a long and positive relationship with your employees. Let’s dive in!

Define your expectations

One of the biggest places of friction in employee-employer relationships comes from a misalignment of expectations. Your employee expected one thing from the job. You expected something else.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this issue: Defining and clarifying your expectations during the hiring process. During the hiring process, plan to state your expectations in two primary locations:

Job description

Your job descriptions are the first thing candidates will see when considering applying to work at your company. Job specifications can tell a candidate quite a lot—or very little—about what it’s like to work for your business. To set expectations and make the best impression, be clear and concise about what you’re looking for in an employee and what they’ll be doing. Moreover, stay away from buzzwords and ground your description in concrete details and examples.


Caught up in the moment of an interview, it can be easy to tell candidates what they want to hear about your expectations. Yet, this will inevitably backfire when the candidate accepts the role and learns it to be different than expected. Instead, during the interview process, be open and honest about your business, the role, and the expectations for the person who fills it.

In addition to defining your expectations, you can also use pre-screening tools, such as questionnaires and diagnostics, to filter for candidates who possess the skills, motivations, abilities, attitudes, and values that match your expectations.

Make a compelling offer

On the flip side of this, you also want to be clear to candidates about what your business will offer them. As much as you are deciding on the right candidate, they, too, are deciding on the right company to join.

Instead of waiting until you make an official offer to detail benefits and pay, be transparent with candidates about what you can offer your employees from the get-go. POS Nation’s hiring tips for first-time owners recommend clearly answering the following questions in your employee handbook and job description:

  • Can you offer health insurance to eligible employees?
  • Do employees get paid time off for vacation and holidays?
  • Is there overtime for working over 40 hours per week?
  • Will you offer sick time if someone isn’t feeling well?
  • Are there opportunities to get bonuses?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • What’s the attendance policy? Can employees swap shifts?
  • What happens when someone is a “no call, no show”?
  • How much of a raise are employees eligible for, and how frequently?
  • Do you offer maternity and paternity leave?

While it’s best practice to pay a fair, living wage, if you can't afford to match the highest salaries of your large competitors, consider non-monetary ways you can attract the best candidates. You might offer:

  • Mentorship opportunities
  • Skills training
  • Flexible hours
  • Remote work opportunities

Ultimately, candidates will appreciate your candor and clarity, and you’re more likely to have people applying who will accept your offer.

Leverage your existing relationships

Instead of using a scattershot approach to find candidates, take advantage of your employees’ networks. Your employees likely have friends and former colleagues in search of jobs. Moreover, this can help boost your employees’ job fulfillment and retention. Research shows that having a friend at work leads to more job satisfaction and a longer tenure. As an additional incentive, consider offering a referral bonus to your employees who recommend successful candidates.

You might also have the best candidate for a position right under your nose. Consider promoting and hiring from within your business. Not only does this save you time and money on training—since they already are familiar with your operations—it’s also great for employee morale.

Get to know your candidate

Much of the information you receive on a candidate will come from their resume and interviews. As a result, you want to make the most of these touchpoints. In addition to pre-screening resumes for errors and relevant keywords, use the interview process to:

  • Ask specific, open-ended questions about the candidate's work experience and previous jobs. 
  • Ask about interests and hobbies outside of work for a sense of the candidate's personality.
  • Allow time for the candidate to respond to your questions and ask questions of their own.

However, a resume and interview can only tell you so much. Since you may be spending 40 hours or more a week with your employees, it’s a good idea to know as much about your candidates as possible. Consider:

    • Getting a second opinion from a trusted co-worker
    • Testing candidates’ applicable skills with a short assignment
    • Calling references to verify work history and answer additional questions
    • Conducting fast, accurate background checks (here are 4 reasons why background checks are essential for small business success)

    Take your time

    While it may seem obvious, taking your time can change your hiring process for the better. There’s a lot of pressure these days to hire quickly. But so much can get lost in the haste to fill an empty position, and you're more likely to end up with someone who’s a poor or even just a “fine” fit for the role.

    The result isn’t good for your business, and it isn’t good for the employees you hire. Skeptical? Take a look at the numbers: Hiring the wrong person costs employers approximately 30% of a candidate’s first-year salary.

    Instead, plan to spend as much time as it takes to find the right candidate and don’t jump over any steps in your hiring process—no exceptions! From screenings to interviews to background checks, giving every candidate the same experience will create a more equitable playing field and make it easier for you to identify who stands out.

    Closing thoughts

    Hiring the right people, however, is only the first step in your employee relationships. From the moment they’ve accepted the position, plan to put in work to retain them and help them grow with your business. Have a plan to show your employees your appreciation and create learning and development, as well as team-building opportunities. Instead of trying to do this manually, use small business software that makes it easy to manage your employees, assign new roles, communicate, and track their hours.

    Ultimately, you don’t want to have to spend your days in the hiring room, interviewing one candidate after the next. Retaining your employees won’t just save you time and money on an expensive recruitment and training process. It will help foster a positive company culture that will attract employees and customers alike.

    Interested in faster and fairer background checks for your small business? Contact Checkr today.

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Ready to give us a try?