Get Started

A Comprehensive Guide to Hiring in Small Businesses

by Jessica Elliott




Corporate success is most often dictated by the employees, and few business owners question the importance of hiring the best and the brightest team members. This fact may be even truer for small companies who are competing with well-funded, larger companies. Hiring problem solvers who can think outside of the box can be just what a small business needs to level the playing field. All small business leaders should have a process in place to attract the best candidates when hiring, as well as ensure that new employees are properly vetted. Below is a detailed description of what the hiring process should entail.

Posting the Job

The first step in the hiring process is posting the job. While there are many sites where you can post a position, some are more suitable than others for particular career opportunities. As is true with most small business expenditures, a cost/benefit analysis of what sites deliver qualified candidates affordably is warranted.

Smart recruiters recognize the need to post on several job boards for the best results. Here are a few of the most popular job posting websites:



No discussion of job posting sites is complete without mentioning Indeed. Google Analytics' findings cite 200 million visitors every month; the sheer number of job seekers on Indeed qualifies this source as a productive recruiting platform.

As a mobile-friendly platform, Indeed is easy to use. Considering that job seekers rely heavily on job boards, Indeed makes it easy for candidates to access positions in their field. When a candidate clicks on a company listing, they can follow the link to the corporate website to learn more. This offers an advantage to a small business that often does not enjoy the same name recognition as larger rivals.



This site specializes in engineering, technology, and IT opportunities. Any seasoned human resource professional realizes the substantial challenge a small business faces when it is time to hire in these sectors - the demand for these positions is greater than the number of available candidates. This is where Dice comes in; they have a huge database of technical talent with fraud detection and screening solutions.

Posts on this site cost approximately $400 or more for 30 days, depending on current pricing. While that can be steep for a small business, it is noteworthy that paying a one-time fee can be cheaper than paying for a subscription plan required by other job sites.

Like Indeed, Dice offers recruiters a resume search option for a proactive way to go straight to the candidate. When expertly used, this feature can identify more job seekers.



As a popular social media site established for business professionals, LinkedIn has become a go-to resource for both recruiters and job seekers. As a unique platform where networking is strongly encouraged, small business professionals can leverage the contacts forged on this networking platform designed to actively recruit qualified professionals.

Small businesses can also utilize a corporate LinkedIn page as a way to put the company's best foot forward to promote the benefits of becoming an employee. As an affordable way to recruit new talent, LinkedIn uses a pay-per-click payment plan so that businesses with small budgets can easily monitor their budget while competing against larger competitors for the best new employees.



There’s a good chance that a small company with top reviews on Glassdoor enjoys a hiring advantage over rival companies who have less favorable ratings on this popular platform. Since this site doubles as both a review and employment site, small companies can parlay positive word of mouth into a competitive edge.

New hires from Glassdoor tend to have higher retention rates, boasting 30% higher rates with 57 million job seekers visiting the site. Additionally, three out of four candidates say they are more likely to apply for a job with a company if it is active on Glassdoor.


Screening Candidates

Screening candidates requires a streamlined process to find valuable candidates and avoid wasting time in moving to the interviewing step of the process. If posting efforts are successful, it is not unusual to have hundreds of resumes to review.

Before spending money on background checks and drug screens, ruling out candidates with insufficient experience or education is often the best way to proceed. Technology provides an efficient solution to tracking applications and resumes as a way to improve recruiting results. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) touts the use of an electronic applicant tracking system not only because it speeds up the hiring process, but also for the added benefit of ensuring data is readily accessible for future audits and legal compliance.

Social media profiles are often evaluated to add another screening dimension to the hiring process. While resumes and applications are useful for evaluating educational and experiential credentials, social media profiles often provide an invaluable tool for evaluating how well a prospective candidate will fit into the corporate culture.

A majority of companies run background checks to verify a candidate's education and previous employment history. Background checks can also shed light on credit profiles and any criminal history. The SHRM reports that 98% of background screenings are to check for criminal records.

When scheduling for new hires, it is important that corporate HR professionals allow enough time to get back the results of the background check - the average background check takes up to a week to complete, with three days typically being the fastest turnaround time. It is important to note that background checks can take as long as a month or even longer.

Drug screening and reference checking are also recommended tools for screening prospective employees. As is true with background checks,  you will need time to get the drug test results back as well as conduct a thorough reference check. It is even better if you know someone else from that company who was not listed on the candidate's list of references who can shed light on that employee's strengths and weaknesses for an inside scoop.


Interviewing/Finding the Right Fit

While the previous steps to the hiring process are necessary, none are more critical to hiring the best candidate than the interview process. It is important to approach this task with the knowledge that the right candidate may not necessarily be the one with the most experience. Focusing on interview questions to uncover a candidate's talents and past accomplishments is crucial for evaluating future potential.

Below are some interviewing tips that can make all the difference.

  1. Always be prepared for the interview. 


In a busy workplace, it is far too easy to simply wing an interview while glancing at the applicant's resume and asking the same basic questions that the candidate expects to hear. Researching a person's Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages provides additional information about their personality and social life; in fact, 54% of employers have eliminated a candidate because of their social media. Google an applicant to get an even broader perspective about a person's accomplishments. Not only will the applicant recognize the extra effort, but as an interviewer, it will be easier to conduct a more personal interview with questions prepared specifically for them.

  1. Use case study interviews.

Case study interview questions allow you to gain insights into how well a particular candidate thinks on their feet under pressure. The key is to present the job applicant with a complicated problem to analyze and solve. The subject matter can be a real-time situation the company is currently dealing with or any crisis that has occurred in the past. Some common examples that are worthy of consideration are personnel problems where two employees don't get along. Another possible case study scenario could be about how to motivate an employee with a bad attitude who only does the bare minimum to get by.

  1. Put the candidate at ease for a better interview.

When a job applicant comes in for the interview, it is important to put them at ease.

Asking open-ended questions about hobbies and interests will relax any job applicant and also give the interviewer a glimpse into what makes that individual different from others. When candidates feel comfortable, they are much more likely to share valuable information, rather than relying entirely on rehearsed answers.


The Hiring Process

When a qualified candidate has been selected, it is time to make an offer. While rushing to judgment is never a good idea, it is also important to remember that the best candidates may have other opportunities they are considering. For this reason, it is crucial not to take too long to make a formal offer. There is always a distinct possibility that another company will hire them first if the hiring process takes too long.

A backup plan is mandatory just in case the applicant does not accept the offer. Having a backup candidate who has been completely vetted means that losing the top candidate will not cause major problems for the company due to a hiring delay.

The onboarding process is key for making a good first impression and getting your new employee off to a fast start. While both informal and formal onboarding are used by companies, the SHRM recommends a formal onboarding process. Unfortunately, informal onboarding is all too common in small business environments where new hires are essentially left to figure things out on their own. New employees may be shown their desk on that first day with little instruction or without an introduction to coworkers. A formal onboarding process often separates the industry leaders from those destined to experience high turnover rates.

An informed employee is a happy employee. Providing new team members with a basic understanding of what is expected of them will make them feel comfortable and also promote a professional company image worthy of their respect and best efforts. Addressing compliance issues and company policies can be covered in a printed employee handbook or a special "Welcome to the Company" session designed to help them feel at home. Policies that explain company rules, legal procedures, clock-in procedures, and job expectations are key for ensuring a new employee's seamless transition into their new environment.

Whether this happens before extending a job offer or during the onboarding process, it is always a good idea to introduce a new employee to their team. By the end of their first day on the job, a new employee should know the name of their supervisor or manager and the members of the team, as well as what is expected from them during the first week and month.

Special attention should be given to a discussion of the corporate culture. Is there a monthly team-building event at a local tavern? How are birthdays celebrated? What is the mission statement of the company? How are high-achievers recognized? These are the types of questions that should be answered so that a new hire understands how the company operates.


Last Thoughts

A company's hiring practices significantly impact the bottom line. That's why a thoughtful and methodical, step-by-step process is crucial for hiring the employees needed to grow any small business. When competing for top talent, small business management must also determine what unique perks and advantages they can offer to convince a potential employee to accept a job offer with them over a large corporation. A streamlined and efficient hiring process that is evaluated regularly by corporate management ensures that they recruit the talent necessary to thrive.

Not sure which background check is right for you?

We’re here to help. Our U.S. based support team and expert investigators will work with you to make sure you have everything you need.