Follow these steps to recruit a new staff member:

1. Set up the selection criteria

Before you review the job applications you've received, come up with a list of the most valuable criteria for the job. These might include specific qualifications, experience or personal qualities.

Your selection criteria will help you make an objective decision on the most important requirements for the candidate.

2. Review job applications

Look through the resumes for people who have your most highly valued criteria.

When reviewing an application, ask yourself:

  • Does this person have the skills, qualifications, attitude and experience to perform well in this job?
  • Will they fit in with other employees and the culture of the company?
  • Will they stay?
  • Do the candidate's goals match what your business can offer and what it has planned for the future?
  • Will there be some degree of challenge for them in the job?

3. Choose an interview format

Once you have a shortlist of potential applicants, you need to decide if you want to interview someone virtually (via phone or video), face-to-face or both.

4. Prepare for the interview

You want to create a professional impression of your company, so make sure you're prepared for an interview with:

  • a list of core questions to ask each applicant
  • specific questions related to their applications
  • a copy of each applicant's application and resume
  • information that will allow you to answer their questions about the role

5. Ask the right questions

Our interview template provides a list of practical, standard interview questions that you can use or modify to suit the job you're advertising.

Use experience-based questions

Asking the candidate to give examples from their past will give you a better idea of what they'll do in the future.

Ask open-ended questions

You'll get more detail and insight if you use open-ended questions that begin with:

  • why
  • who
  • where
  • how
  • what
  • when
  • tell me

For example, 'Tell me about a time when you've had a difficult customer. How did you deal with the situation?'

Look for the competencies you need

Make sure the questions you ask test the competencies you need in the job, such as:

  • leadership
  • team work
  • conflict resolution
  • initiative
  • customer management

6. Conduct the interview

Make the candidate feel welcome and as relaxed as possible. It helps to start by giving them an overview of the company and reason for the vacancy.

Make notes during your conversation so you can review them later.

Explain to each applicant the process that you're currently conducting and what the next step will be. For example, you'll be back in touch if you'd like to organise a follow-up interview.

Know your responsibilities

Prospective employees receive some of the same legal protections as employees, so make sure you're familiar with their rights under:

  • the Fair Work Act 2009 (including freedom from discrimination)
  • privacy laws
  • sexual harassment laws

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more about the general protections given to prospective employees.

7. Check references

Perform reference checks once you've narrowed your selection down to one or two candidates. You must get permission from the candidate to check their references.

Types of references

It's usual to contact 2 of the preferred applicant's previous immediate managers or supervisors to confirm the applicant's skills and experience. But not all applicants will be able to provide this information.

If you're interviewing someone with limited work experience, such as a student or graduate, it might help to get references from school teachers, university tutors or other character referees.

For applicants that have been out of the workforce for a while, or who have been working for themselves, clients or customers might be useful referees.

What to ask in a reference check

Like the interview itself, it's worth having standard questions to ask all referees. Our reference checking template has some standard questions for you to use.

Asking about a candidate's weaknesses

Referees will usually not hesitate in talking about the candidate's strengths but are often hesitant to talk about any potential weaknesses.

One way to investigate this area is to ask questions such as 'Are there any areas for improvement that you can suggest as this individual moves forward in their career?'

8. Check qualifications and eligibility

If the position requires specific qualifications, such as a Responsible Service of Alcohol, make sure you've inspected the relevant documents and certificates. You might need to take copies of these documents for the employee's file.

You should also be sure that the successful candidate is authorised to work in Australia. If you have any doubt, ask to see the documentary evidence before making the final decision to hire them.