A solid hiring policy affects your company at all levels. From the beginning, a policy that complies with all federal, state, and local regulations helps protect your business from legal challenges, and the resulting disruptions and costs. A well-crafted policy also consistently delivers the best and most promising members to your teams, resulting in increased productivity; these members also tend to stay longer, reducing turnover, stemming the loss of tribal knowledge, and preventing the resulting drop in morale. These are some common best practices when crafting a hiring policy that works for you in every sense of the phrase:

Educate Your Workforce Team

The legal complexities of hiring and employment law are ever-changing. Continuing education for the Human Resources professional is critical, as is a routine review of your hiring policy to monitor whether any changes or adjustments might be required. Above all, consistency is key, and the best hiring policy is one that doesn’t make exceptions and follows the same path for every candidate.

Define the Position

Let’s face it – you’re busy, and when you’re shorthanded, you’re naturally even busier. However, “winging it” when it comes to hiring someone, or going by the “I’ll know the right person when I meet him or her” school of hiring, will only do you a disservice. Take the time to fully map out the position you’re trying to fill, defining not just the job duties, but the skills this person needs to be most successful. By writing this down, you might discover things you didn’t realize about the position and the person you’re looking for (maybe the perfect candidate is sitting in another department of your company right now!), but you give yourself a template against which to measure the candidates you meet. Your gut instinct might be great everywhere else, but when you need to hire someone you can trust to get the job done right, a more methodical approach is called for.

Look in the Right Places

Now that you have a comprehensive job description, advertise in the right places. As Christine Lagorio-Chafkin wrote in Inc. magazine, “If you think Craigslist.org is your one-stop-hiring-shop, think again. Sifting through a deluge of resumes from a large, general-interest job site can suck up unnecessary time. Yes, other listing sites do cost more, but honing your search to a particular industry can do a world of good, because you’ll have the eyes of the job-searchers with standards – those who know what they’re looking for.” Additionally, looking in several different places will help increase the chances of attracting a diverse applicant pool and decrease the chances of maintaining the status quo.

Start with the Best Pool of Candidates

Employee assessments are nothing new, but many companies only use them to identify and analyze candidates they’ve already spent a lot of time and money on through the recruitment process. Using an integrity assessment at the time the candidate completes your application – one that is well-designed for the type of job you are filling, such as the ones offered by Insight Worldwide – makes your job as a hiring manager easier from the get-go. By eliminating up front those who will admit to doing illegal drugs, faking injuries and / or filing false workers’ compensation claims, or being undependable, among other undesirable traits, you can have a stronger sense of confidence in the applicants you start with when you first sit down to review.

Interview Intelligently

There are as many different styles of conducting an interview as there are interviewers. Returning to the first step above, the most important key is knowing what questions you can ask, and how you can ask them. Beyond that, however, try to go beyond the questions your applicant is anticipating (and has rehearsed answers for!) and start a conversation. Get to know them as much as you can in the limited time you have with them by, for example, simulating a task they might encounter in the job you’re hiring for. For an accounting position, this might involve taking data and preparing a report; for someone on a production floor, it might involve creating something using a set of mock work instructions. This can often put people in their element and help relax them, as well as give you a real-life perspective on how they might perform to your specific requirements.

Hiring is one of the most important functions a company does, because everything else is based on the choices made during that process. Creating a well-thought-out, thorough, and comprehensive policy is the first step to ensuring a successful business.