Human Resources, HR

HR Hiring Policies

Many small businesses don’t have dedicated human resources departments or staff with HR expertise to manage the company’s hiring processes and policies. In this case, the company’s owner, founder or the staff member responsible for operations may need to establish workplace rules and parameters for hiring employees. Designing your company’s HR policies related to hiring employees begins with identifying job qualifications and generally ends with extending a final offer of employment.


Before you post advertisements for your company’s job openings, review the job descriptions and talk to the hiring manager about basic requisites and the types of candidates she wants to interview. The job description contains the essential functions of the job and the required qualifications. However, learning what the hiring manager wants besides what’s on paper will be useful when you narrow the list of applicants down to the best qualified. If you’re handling recruiting and interviewing yourself — without the help of a dedicated HR department or an in-house recruiter — list the attributes you prefer. For example, the job may require a college degree and five years’ experience, but you might be partial to candidates who can adapt to a small-business environment and who can work cross-functionally when needed.

Employment Applications

For businesses that don’t have online application processes or applicant-tracking systems, resumes and cover letters are acceptable for the first stage in the hiring process. Still, your hiring policies should require that all applicants complete a formal employment application. Formal applications are important because they obtain applicants’ personal data necessary for conducting background checks and they require applicants to attest to the truthfulness of statements they’ve made concerning their qualifications, including their eligibility to work for a United States employer. Applications also require that applicants acknowledge that they understand the conditions of employment-at-will, meaning that the company has the right to end the working relationship at any time, for any reason or for no reason, with or without advance notice.


Telephone interviews are a cost-effective, efficient means to select candidates for face-to-face interviews. In a telephone interview, you determine if the applicant meets the basic requirements. A 20- to 30-minute telephone interview is sufficient time to verify the applicant’s work history and discover what the applicant has to offer your company. Conduct at least one face-to-face interview before you make a hiring decision. Two to three interviews often are necessary, particularly when you’re selecting candidates for leadership roles or filling jobs that require approval from more than one person in the organization. Small businesses might want to consider introducing final candidates to employees with whom they’ll be working to get a sense of whether the candidate fits into the organizational culture.

Pre-Employment Steps

One of the first pre-employment steps is making a conditional job offer to the final candidate. Some companies also select a runner-up candidate in case the top candidate doesn’t pass the background check, employment verification or drug test. Send the candidate a written job offer, explaining that it’s conditioned upon successfully passing the background check and other pre-employment steps, such as drug testing. Ensure you have the candidate’s written authorization to conduct a background check. Upon receiving the results, send the candidate a final job offer.

Formal HR Policies

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or adding to your staff, it’s essential that you develop consistent HR hiring policies. Consistent hiring policies and procedures can ensure that you give all applicants due consideration for employment with your company. Formal hiring policies also can mitigate your risk of potential liability for claims that applicants or employees might file, alleging that you engaged in unfair employment practices. In addition to formal HR hiring policies, consider developing policies for performance management, workplace safety and HR training and development as part of a complete set of guidelines for your company’s HR activities.