Hiring 101: How to Prepare Before Your First Hiring Round

🙋‍♀️ This is a cross-post from my newsletter, Leading by Design. If you liked the post below, consider subscribing! I post one issue per month.

Exciting times! Your small team is expanding, and you’re ready to kickstart your first hiring round! You’re already thinking about how to attract good talent, daydreaming about all the fantastic work you’ll do together. You want to hire the best person for the role fast and make them feel productive even faster.

The problem is: you don’t know where to start. Preparing for a new hire is an intricate project that requires action from your whole team. Fortunately, the effort you will make now compounds, so you won’t have to repeat it every time you hire a new person. All the deliverables you will work on in this phase are considered living documents, meant to be improved and polished with every hiring round.

This is the first of a series of writeups on the hiring process. In the following issues, we’ll examine how to prepare and structure your hiring process, write compelling job descriptions and conduct stellar interviews.

🤔 Start by asking why

Before even thinking about assignments, whiteboard exercises and applicant tracking systems, start by taking some quiet time to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you need to hire an employee right now? Is it a capacity issue, or do you need a new skillset your team currently lacks?
  • Will you need to hire more people for this position in the future? Why or why not?
  • What will happen if you don’t hire a person right now?
  • Will the new hire cause any org chart change?
  • To whom will they report?
  • How does the new hire fit in your team’s vision? How will they help you achieve your goals?
  • What is the budget for this hiring round?

Write down your answers and communicate them to the rest of your team and your manager (if applicable). Incorporate any feedback you receive to make sure that everyone is in sync before you start.

🎛 Clarify roles & responsibilities

To start writing a job description, you should have a good idea about this new role’s scope. Write down any responsibilities attached to the new hire you can think of and discuss with your team to ensure that nothing’s missing.

There’s a pitfall here: When a team works well, it’s tempting (and seemingly faster) to start looking for clones of existing team members. This urge will harm you in the long run. Diverse teams are proven to be more productive and innovative. Instead of trying to clone yourself, aim for diversity in lived experiences, primary and secondary skills, education and focus.

Think about how the new hire can augment, not just expand, your team. To get started, try to chart your team members on a table (based on work by Chris Avore). Spot the gaps that you’d like to fill and think about how the new role will fit in with the rest of the organization in the future, not just how they will help your immediate needs.

🔜 Start thinking about onboarding

If this is your first hire, it is imperative to help them get on board as smoothly as possible. An employee handbook, i.e. an internal document that details what the employee can expect from the company, is an excellent first step.

You don’t have to dedicate lots of resources to this if you want to move fast. Even a single Google Doc or Notion page with links to all the relevant documentation will work. Your employee handbook is supposed to be a living document, updated as you grow and evolve.

Now is also the time to start thinking about your onboarding process and create a relevant checklist. To get started, try to answer the following questions:

  • What will be the first project of the new hire?
  • How will success look like for them? How will it be measured?
  • What should they work on during their first week, month and quarter?
  • Will they have an onboarding buddy?
  • What tools do they need to be productive right away?
  • How will you communicate the company culture to the new hire?

You don’t have to have everything ready before writing your job description. Still, the answers to the questions above will help you solidify the position scope and might uncover critical points you missed early in the process.

Next up: writing job descriptions!

After thoroughly preparing for your first hiring round, it’s time to write a compelling job description for your new role. In the next issue, we’ll examine the basics of writing for candidates, learn to avoid common pitfalls, and explore an exciting alternative to traditional job descriptions.

Stay tuned!

Subscribe to my management & leadership newsletter
Overcoming Your Imposter Syndrome as a Manager