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Taken the necessary time during the hiring process

By Andrea M. Marsland


Hiring a new employee can be a fun and exciting time, especially when you hit the jackpot with a potential new hire. Unfortunately, excitement often gives way to circumventing important steps in the process, which can end up being a costly proposition if things do not work out. Taking your time at the outset of the hiring process is time well spent. Your employer will thank you for it later.

Below are 10 tips for a successful hiring process:


Define the role: Hiring the right person for the job starts with defining exactly what you want that person to do. Start with a comprehensive job description and, from that, create a checklist of mandatory qualifications from which to work off. This is your “must have” list.


Look internally first: Before you go to market, consider whether you have any employees you can promote from within. Hiring from within promotes advancement and motivates staff. Upward mobility and job satisfaction go hand in hand. 


Focus on credentials and note the bumps: When you are reviewing resumes, focus on whether the applicant has the credentials you need before spending time on the “outside interests” section of the document. Keep your “must have” list handy and use it as a checklist. Also, make sure you take note of successive periods of short service; these can be a bad sign. Make sure you understand the “why” behind the bumps. Successive periods of short service can mean the candidate has trouble holding down a job. 


Prepare your questions in advance: Prepare a list of questions in advance of the interview and ask all the applicants the same questions to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. This will help keep you focused on the task at hand instead of side tracking the interview to talk about personal interests. 


Ask about restrictive covenants: If your potential hire is coming to you from a competitor, make sure to ask whether they are bound by any restrictive covenants that might impact their ability to do the job. For example, a sales rep who cannot service and/or solicit customers may not be ideal. If a potential new hire is bound by restrictive covenants, ask to see copies of the documents and have them reviewed by your legal counsel before offering them a position. You may be able to live with the restrictions, but you may not.


Call references: For whatever reason, this step is often skipped in the hiring process. It is important to call references to get the inside scoop with respect to your potential new recruit. If you are told that “company policy is to not provide references,” this can be a red flag. If you receive this type of response, make sure you call all other references provided to you. Satisfy yourself before making an offer. 


Involve your staff: Once you have narrowed down your candidate pool, involve your staff in the interview process to the extent that you can. If your potential new hire is going to work as part of a team, make sure the team has met, and is onboard, with the new addition. Buy-in goes a long way and will contribute to your organization’s success in the long run. 


Use employment agreements: Once you have selected the candidate to whom you wish to make an offer, make your offer by way of an employment agreement or offer letter that includes all of the terms being offered to the candidate. These should include terms relating to compensation, termination, confidentiality, non-solicitation, intellectual property and, in certain cases, non-competition. Then, make sure the employment agreement or offer letter is signed before the new hire begins work. If not, you will have trouble enforcing the agreement if things do not work out. 


Probationary period: Track it and use it. In Ontario, the typical probationary period is three months. The probationary period allows employers to assess performance and fit. If documented properly, the probationary period can provide employers with an opportunity to let a new hire go without having to provide notice if things are not going well. In order to use the probationary period this way, the employment agreement or offer letter needs wording to exclude the employee’s right to common law notice. 


Policies: Distribute and enforce them consistently and fairly. The law requires employers to have certain policies in place (e.g., harassment, violence, health and safety). These policies will generally apply to all employees in an organization. Make sure that distribution and training on these policies occurs at the outset of the relationship.


 Andrea M. Marsland is a partner at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP.




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