Whether you’re a large employer with an organized human resources infrastructure or a start-up making your first hire, with a little training and preparation, you too can hire like a pro.

The hiring process is full of both opportunity and risk. Supervisors and hiring personnel may unintentionally add to the risk if they don’t understand some of the perils of hiring. As a point of first emphasis, every applicant for employment should complete an employment application before being considered for an available position. Close scrutiny and attention should also be placed on the types of interview questions used during the process with an overall emphasis on ensuring fair and equal treatment of all applicants.

A completed employment application should be a prerequisite for consideration for any open position. All applications should include Equal Employment Opportunity and Americans with Disabilities Act language specifying that the employer provides equal employment opportunity to all persons. All applications should include a representation statement, wherein the applicant verifies that the information provided on the application is true and accurate. Finally, the applicant should sign the application and references should also be requested.

Before deciding which applicants to interview, an employer should conduct some initial screening. Reference checks, for instance, can be conducted by current employees, so long as the applicant’s privacy considerations are adequately protected. Asking for several references will likely provide the employer with the names of people that will be honest about the applicant’s performance. Criminal background checks may also be helpful.

On to the interview. The interviewing process is at the core of the hiring function. Although the supervisor or interviewing official may not have the final say in the hiring decision, the interview process is no less crucial to making a good hire. Just one ill-advised or improper question or comment from a supervisor during an interview can bring harm to an employer and expose the company to potential legal liability. Stay away from questions that might implicate a protected class, like race or religion.

When conducting interviews, supervisors should prepare in advance by starting the interview on time. The candidate’s resume and application should be reviewed ahead of time. The focus of the interview should be to determine whether the applicant is a good fit for the job. Questions during the interview should focus exclusively on the requirements of the job. Written job descriptions go a long way toward making sure that the interview is conducted properly. It is also good for the interviewer to ask all applicants the same set of questions.

At the end of the day, the interview is a professional meeting and should be conducted as such. The interviewer should refrain from taking phone calls, responding to e-mails or allowing others to interrupt the meeting if at all possible. Jokes and other comments not directly related to the job are also not recommended. Once the interview is over, the interviewer should thank the applicant for coming in, shake hands and inform them of the next step in the hiring evaluation process.

If the employer follows these guidelines, the company will hire like a pro and avoid the pitfalls of a poorly developed and implemented hiring process. At the end of the day, the goal is to hire the best applicant for the job.

Copyright ©2011 by L&L Communications d/b/a Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, Thomas A. Cox. Jr. Esq, author. Posted with permission from publisher. All rights reserved by the original copyright holder.