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How to hire employees in 11 steps

Young woman looks at sheet of paper while sitting at desk
Pressmaster / Shutterstock

Breaking up the process into manageable parts will make it easier to tackle the hiring process.

While it does take considerable time and effort to find your perfect candidate, you’ll never regret investing in the search.

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1. Research

Before you can get started, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about what you need from a new employee and the skills they’ll require to get those tasks done.

Do some preliminary research. Look for online postings for similar roles and job openings to get an idea of what other employers are looking for in terms of skills and experience.

Spend some time thinking about a reasonable salary range for the role. If this is a brand-new role within your company, compare industry averages. Explore what kinds of benefits packages are standard as well.

Keep your notes for when it’s time to draw up the job description and an employment contract.

2. Create a job title

This is surprisingly important. Even if you have a fun, quirky vibe going at your office, keep your job descriptions simple and straightforward but descriptive.

Err on the side of being concise and clear. And unless you’re looking for a new member of The Rolling Stones, don’t include the term “rockstar.” The same goes for “guru,” “ninja” and “master of fun” or any other buzzwords.

Not only are those cutesy terms a turn-off for job applicants, candidates are very unlikely to use them in titles when they’re searching for jobs.

3. Write a job description

Now that you have the perfect job title, it’s time to write a description to go along with it.

This is another document you’ll want to approach with a focus on being clear, accurate and descriptive. Make sure it includes keywords relevant to the job and education or training required.

Don’t shy away from asking for input from your team, fellow managers and industry peers about what skills and tasks should be included in this description.

Once it’s been perfected, post that description and wait for the applications to start pouring in.

4. Review applications

Two people looking at application on clipboard, sitting across a desk
Mercigod / Shutterstock

Once your posting has attracted some attention and you’ve received a few applications, you can start creating a pool of qualified candidates .

Start with the top-level requirements: if you’ve asked for specific education or experience, filter out anyone who doesn’t meet that standard.

With the applicants left after your initial screening, it helps to make a few piles of resumes: A “definite yes” pile and one for the “maybes.”

Read through their resumes again and evaluate their past achievements. Look to see your job candidates not only have the right skills and experience for the role, but that they can demonstrate a clear career progression and some level of commitment to previous workplaces.

Employment gaps and short stints at certain places can be a red flag, but if the candidate is otherwise very strong, it’s possible they have a good explanation for that.

But if you spot a number of mistakes in formatting or spelling, that can be a sign the applicant isn’t such a great fit when it comes to attention to detail.

The goal here is to narrow down your pool to a manageable number of applicants to proceed with. If you have questions about their application or resume, reach out to them and give them an opportunity to address your inquiries.

Once you’re satisfied with a few strong contenders, you can move forward with interviews.

5. Interviews

Line up of people sitting in chairs from the shoulders down

A quick initial call with your top candidates can help save you a lot of time if it’s clear off the bat that someone isn’t a good fit for the workplace (or maybe you’re not a good fit for their next move either).

After your calls, pick your top three applicants to come in for an in-person meeting. Have a list of interview questions prepared that go over the basics of the job, their prior experience and any personality aspects that would make them a good fit for the company culture-wise.

Now this is really important. There are certain questions you are legally prevented from asking avoid discrimination in the hiring process.

In adherence with local, federal and state employment laws, avoid discussions of:

  • religion
  • race
  • marital status
  • sex (including gender and sexual orientation)
  • disability
  • age
  • citizenship status

If you want to get to know a candidate a little better, ask them to tell you a little about themselves. That puts the ball in their court in terms of what they’d like to share.

And you can ask them about their strengths and weaknesses, what drew them to the position, why they’d like to work for your company, the work environment they think suits them best — all these questions will tell you plenty about a candidate as well.

Try to stay engaged in the interview. Ideally, it should be conversational rather than more formally structured.. But make sure you jot down any relevant notes so you can refer back to those points when it’s time to pick a candidate.

And make sure you set aside sufficient time for each prospect, interviewing candidates can take longer than you might initially think.

6. Check references

Some employers jump to hire after an excellent interview.. But taking the extra step of checking references can be very illuminating.

References can help back up any claims your candidate has made and shed some light on what they’re really like. A good rule of thumb is to ask each of your finalists for three references.

In addition to asking these references to confirm the details in a person’s resume, ask them about what it’s like to work with the candidate and about their strengths and weaknesses and whether they’d recommend you hire the person and if so, why.

7. Keep the process organized

Whether you’re hiring for one job or multiple roles at one time, you’re no doubt working on other important projects as well.

You may think you’ll remember everything perfectly after interviews, but keep detailed notes so you don’t have to.

And to keep things from blending together or getting confused, keep your recruitment files all together and separate from your other work files. Within the recruitment folder, keep all your different roles separate as well.

8. Choose your candidate

If you’ve had some thorough interviews, received positive feedback from references and kept detailed notes, hopefully picking your ideal candidate is an easy decision.

But if you find you have a few different people who would all make excellent employees, you’ll need to do some reflecting. If everyone’s skills and experience are roughly at the same level, spend some time figuring out who might fit in best with the team.

Especially if you are a small business owner, a good fit for your company culture can be the difference between a team that runs smoothly and one that does not.

9. Send your employment offer

close up of man's hands dialing phone
Don Pablo / Shutterstock

When you’re ready to make a job offer, give your top candidate a quick call. Run through the details of what you’re offering in terms of salary, hours, benefits and start date. If your candidate decides they want to move forward, go ahead and send them an official job offer letter.

Make sure you include all the details you discussed over the phone in the offer letter.

If you have a legal team, it’s not a bad idea to get them to review the letter before you send it out. If you’re planning to make more than one hire this time around, it may benefit you to have them help you draw up a template for these letters to make the process even easier.

10. Notify rejected applicants

Not all workplaces do this, but it’s a nice touch to reach out to the candidates you decide not to go with. You should wait to do this until your preferred candidate accepts the offer to avoid any awkward calls to your second-choice pick.

But be honest, fair and provide them with feedback if they ask why they were not chosen. Wish them well on their job search, but only offer to keep them in mind for future roles if you mean it.

11. Finish legal and administrative paperwork promptly

Hand of businesswoman writing on paper in office
Mangostar / Shutterstock

We know, paperwork is the worst. But you’ve got some regulations and legal obligations to comply with when you hire a new staff member.

We suggest consulting a legal professional to get the full picture of what’s expected of you, but here’s an outline of what you can expect to have to complete at this point:

  • Form I-9, which proves the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States
  • Form W-9, with the employee’s Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Form W-4, to indicate how much income tax to withhold from the employee’s wages

For more information on all these forms, and to download them, visit the IRS’s website.

You may have some other state-level legal requirements or internal administrative processes to follow.

Be very careful not to make an error in the paperwork that could negatively impact your business or your new employee. Err on the side of caution.

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How to hire employees in specific fields

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When you’re hiring for specialized jobs, much will be the same as any other member of your team. But you’ll also need to take into account relevant skills and experience.

You may need to look for individuals with specific training or academic backgrounds. You’ll probably have to alter your standard interview questions or give candidates tests to ensure they’ve got the skills you’re looking for.

You wouldn’t hire a writer without seeing any examples of their previous work. The same goes for a web developer.

Candidates may come across great in an interview setting, but be sure to ask for evidence to back up their claims.

Here’s a few tips to help you hire employees in some specific fields:

How to hire a personal assistant

Finding the right personal assistant can be life-changing. But the key here is that they have to be the right assistant for you.

You know best what kind of support you need.

If you don’t already have an assistant, make a list of the tasks and distractions that currently prevent you from being your most productive self. Is it managing your own schedule? Organizing your emails? Booking travel and accommodation? It could even be picking up your dry cleaning, coffee or lunch.

Make sure all these essential tasks make their way into your job description. Filter through applications for candidates with strong planning and time management skills.

With this type of job, be upfront about what you need in both the description and interviews. Providing your new assistant with clear expectations will help them start strong and save you both time in the long run.

How to hire temporary employees

Whether you need to cover a member of your team that is on a leave or get some temporary support during peak or seasonal business rushes, temporary employees can be a great convenient resource for all types of businesses.

When you’re filling this type of position, it’s generally because of an urgent need. So while you’ll want to still be thorough and find the best candidate, you’ll also want to make it happen more quickly.

Temp agencies can be the best option here to help you fill urgently needed positions. And this is where your detailed job description will come in handy to help them direct the right candidates your way.

Approach hiring these temporary employees the same way you do with your permanent employees — you never know, they may become invaluable to your team or be a great fit when you have a permanent opening.

How to hire employees for startups

When you’ve built a company on your own, making your first official hires is a big deal. For a startup, those first couple years in business are crucial to your long-term success.

That’s why it’s so important to find the right people who will support your business as grows and changes.

Your first step should be to make sure that the company mission and vision are clear. It may seem clear to you (because you’re holding all the information in your own head), but make sure you make a record of those things and ensure everything you do is in line with those values.

When that’s done, seek out employees who demonstrate an admiration and passion for your brand or those values you set out. You’ll need strong team players who can pull their weight, but enthusiasm also counts for a lot in the early days of a startup.

Make it enjoyable for them to do their best work for you — provide what you can for your team within your budget, but also be a flexible, supportive and encouraging boss. You don’t have to have free food, “decompression capsules,” or free gym classes like Google to make your office a desirable place to work.

How to hire a web developer

You don’t have to be tech-savvy yourself to recruit and hire new web talent.

With this kind of role, if it’s just the first member of the web team, you’ll probably want to focus on general aptitude rather than specialized knowledge. They should also be able to fit into the corporate culture that you’re cultivating.

If you’re adding to your web team, check in with your current employees about which skill sets are currently lacking and go from there. Use their three-month probation period to test if they are a good fit and get a sense of how the person meshes with the rest of the team.

If you don’t need a full-time employee, there’s also a number of websites for professional freelancers like Upwork, Fiverr and 99designs.

When you find someone you think you’d like to work with, make sure you request some samples of their previous work. You can also ask for testimonials from previous clients if you want a little more reassurance.

Next steps: Start your hiring process today

Two women sitting across from each other at a desk, smiling
bernatets photo / Shutterstock

If you feel you’ve got the process of hiring an employee on lock, but it’s just a matter of finding excellent candidates, you may want to consider getting the help of a recruiting service.

One valuable option to connect you with the right people is ZipRecruiter.

ZipRecruiter is a leading online employment marketplace. Powered by AI-driven smart matching technology, the company actively connects millions of businesses of all sizes, and job seekers, through innovative mobile, web and email services.

You can even download templates for job descriptions from the site, which can help you streamline that front-end process.

And ZipRecruiter is recognized as one of the top sites for recruitment, having helped more than 1.8 million businesses of all sizes find great candidates since its inception in 2010.

If that sounds like just what your business needs, this link can provide you with a free trial and job posting on the site.

Visit ZipRecruiter

Start a Free Trial


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Sigrid Forberg Associate Editor

Sigrid’s is Moneywise.com's associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the Moneywise team.


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.