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Hiring Best Practices

Learn about the current best practices from both industry and research.

This paper was written by students in the Masters of I/O Science program at the University of Guelph, located in Ontario, CA. Special mentions to the students for their generous contributions: Melissa Pike, Molly Contini, Julia Kearney, and Jordan Moore.Supervised by Marian Pitel, VP Research at nugget.ai.

Welcome! If you’re here, you are likely a hiring manager or a human resource practitioner who is interested in learning about best practices for hiring. Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this post, we'll outline what best practices are, why they matter when hiring, and which current best practices you should follow to ensure fairness when hiring. This post will provide you with current best practices from both industry and research. Because you're learning about this through the nugget.ai website, if you're interested in how nugget.ai uses best practices, you can check out the brief outline at the end of this post or contact help@nugget.ai!

What are “best practices” and why do they matter?

Companies strive to hire the best talent. They want employees who are hard-working, motivated, and have the skills to be successful on the job. But, how do you know you're hiring the best employee? One way is to follow the current best practices for hiring. Best practices are procedures or guidelines that employers should follow to ensure they're achieving the best results, and they allow employers to go about their work in the most efficient manner (Besner & Hobbs, 2013). If you are looking to hire a new employee, current best practices help you maintain fair treatment of all job candidates as well as help you hire the best talent. Hiring the best employees is important because, hiring highly skilled candidates will likely improve a company’s effectiveness and reduce training costs for your company.

Some companies have reported training costs upwards of $75,000 over the first two years just to make sure their new employees have the proper skills and abilities to perform the job (Covaleski, 1999)!

So, it is recommended that current best practices are followed to ensure you hire the best talent with the skills to perform well on the job.

What best practices should I be following when selecting new hires?

Best practices for determining job-relevant skills

What is the first to hiring a new employee for your company? Before you can even select which tool(s) (e.g. interviews, questionnaires, etc.) you will use in the hiring process, it's important to determine what skills are relevant for the position (Reddy, 2016). Determining job-relevant skills ahead of time ensures that the tools you use for hiring measure these skills. It also helps candidates who see your job advertisement decide if they should apply based on the necessary skills for the job.Now you might be wondering: how do I determine the job-relevant skills? The best practice to determine the skills necessary for a job is to conduct a rigorous job analysis (Campion et al., 2011). A job analysis involves collecting information about the duties and responsibilities an employee must perform for a job to be executed effectively (Harvey, 1991). A job analysis could be conducted by interviewing current employees or using job databases to determine the tasks required for that specific job. For example, imagine that you're looking to hire for an administrative position in your company. To identify the relevant job skills through a job analysis, you may want to discuss what duties, skills and responsibilities are necessary in the role with your current administrative staff. Although the most thorough and complete job analysis would involve someone working in the role, if there is not someone currently in a similar role at your company, you could look at job ads for the description of duties and skills. You could also look to job databases that outline the skills for a similar position (e.g. O*NET). This process should allow you to determine what skills you will need to look for in a job applicant during the hiring process.When conducting your job analysis, you should make sure that you are not only considering the skills necessary for good job performance, but also the level of proficiency that is necessary for each skill (Campion et al., 2011; Thorton & Gibbons, 2009). For example, does the employee need basic formatting knowledge in Microsoft Word or do they need to know how to create complex documents using the software? You need to understand the complexity of each job task to best assess whether job candidates have the required level of each skill to perform the job successfully. In addition, having information about the proficiency level for each skill can help you prioritize which skills are most important to look for, as some skills are more universal and most employees will have them, while others are developed through months or even years of training.

Best practice for selecting hiring tools

After you have determined the skills necessary for effective job performance, you need to select the tools you will use to hire for these skills (e.g. interviews, questionnaires, etc.). You have variety of tools to choose from, so how do you select the best one? First, you should ensure that the tools you select encompass all the skills deemed relevant in the job analysis (Campion et al., 2011; International Task Force on Assessment Centers). By selecting tools based on job-relevant skills, you are increasing the legal defensibility of your hiring system. It should be noted that although the focus here is hiring, these predetermined job-relevant skills should also be used in performance appraisal, promotion, and compensation systems for employees in this job position (Campion et al., 2011).

When determining which hiring tools to use, it's also important to consider how the tools you select will impact candidates in the applicant pool.

If your hiring process involves any job relevant exercises, these should be created with the consideration of how someone with a disability might be impacted by the design of the exercise (skillsforcare, n.d.).

For example, if the exercise is being completed on a computer, did you consider how the visually impaired will perform the exercise? If exercises can be modified to meet the needs of all applicants without impeding the ability of the tool to predict performance, this accommodation should be made (e.g. if the use of a computer isn’t needed to perform the job, then an exercise could be adapted to involve providing answers on the phone, in an interview etc.).

Best practices for the hiring process

Now that you have selected your hiring tools and are ready to undergo the hiring process, what other best practices should you follow? The first best practice you should consider is that candidates should be scored consistently on each tool used (Caldwell, Thornton, & Gruys, 2003; International Task Force on Assessment Centers). Each of your selection tools should have a standardized scoring system, so that each candidate can be objectively rated using the same criteria. Standardized and objective scoring systems helps to increase the legal defensibility of your tool and ensure fairness in your hiring process.

Once the hiring process has started, applicants should be tracked with software (Reddy, 2016). Software can vary from simple Excel spreadsheets, to more complex applicant tracking systems (ATS). By tracking applicants, you can make note of which stage most applicants were eliminated from the applicant pool and why, as well as their scores on each tool. If a candidate was not selected but might be considered for employment for another position, or at a later date, having a record of all employees will allow you to contact this candidate down the line. This type of information can also help you to refine your hiring process over time based on how hired candidates perform on the job and the scores they received on the selection tools.

Once an applicant has undergone the hiring process, it’s important that you provide the applicant feedback on their performance (Binkley et al., 2010; Reddy, 2016). Feedback can help the candidate improve their skills if they were not selected for the position and can help them understand why they were not selected. Candidates who receive feedback feel that hiring practices are fairer (Gilliland, 1995), and feel more positive in general about the company.

Finally, once you have selected a(n) employee(s) for your company, you should ensure you review the hiring process and change it as needed (Reddy, 2016). As we exist in such an innovative and dynamic age, companies often must adapt and change to stay relevant.

As companies and job roles change, the way that candidates are hired and the skills that are important to the job will change as well. Therefore, it’s important to keep the hiring process relevant and effective!


We have provided you with a variety of current best practices to help you hire the best talent. Following these best practices should help you design a fair hiring process and select the best talent for your company. However, best practices are never static and evolve over time, so make sure to keep yourself updated on best practices for hiring to ensure your hiring process is working to the best of its ability!

Want to see how nugget.ai implements best practices? See below for some tidbits! Contact hello@nugget.ai if you’re interested in getting more information.

To learn more about our research, contact Marian here.

Marian Pitel ✨

VP Research