Motivated and productive employees are critical for business success in today's global market place. They tend to be the ones that really fit well into the workplace and whose skills and professional goals are in sync with their employers' expectations. Finding these employees is not a matter of luck, it starts with the hiring process.

Investing time in developing and implement a good hiring process upfront will significantly increase your chances of finding the right person the first time around.

This section outlines a step-by-step process that will help increase your chances of finding workers that meet your needs and fit your business. It includes tools, tips and techniques for each step  from describing and posting job positions, reviewing resumes and screening applicants, conducting interviews and rating job candidates to making a job offer.


In This Section:


On-lineTraining is Available: SkillsonlineNS offers free online training to Nova Scotia residents and businesses. The Hiring Processes bundle of courses includes training in screening resumes, interviewing and hiring,  and onboarding new employees. Click here to view the complete course catalogue or to register for the Hiring Processes bundle of courses.


Steps to Success

Finding the right person for a job is not as straightforward as you might think. Following an organized set of activities such as these can make the task easier and more successful.

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Describe the Job


Job Description:
Before you start the recruitment process you need a clear job description. This will help you to write your job ad and be objective in assessing job applicants. Job Descriptions commonly include the following categories:

Main Responsibilities (why this job exists):
In one or two sentences, describe what this position is expected to accomplish for the company.

List the duties of this position in order of importance. Use action words to describe the task and include descriptions of how the tasks are to be done. Also consider the behavioral requirements of the job, for instance is what kind of communication will be needed in this job? For example, "attention to detail".  Be sure to specify that type of detail work is involved.

Physical Demands:
Describe working conditions that may affect some individuals' ability to do the work. Some examples are: lifting, shift work and sight requirements.

Identify the skills and knowledge required to do the job. For instance skill in the use of particular machines, technical work, statistics, etc?

Work Experience:
What type of experience in related job functions is needed? How much experience is needed?

Identify the education requirement. If possible, consider a combination of experience and training as equivalent to education needs - this will widen your pool of candidates. Remember to include any certifications that are required for the position.

Special Factors:
Include any special requirements, such as second language fluency, willingness to work overtime on short notice, willingness to travel, willingness to work weekends, etc.

Core Competencies:
Now that you have prepared a written understanding of the job itself, you can decide on the skills and core competencies that you need in your new employee.

Occupational profiles which include information on all of the above and more for over 300 jobs in Nova Scotia are available on Explore Careers Nova Scotia.  This information will help you write your job description.

Click here for a Job Description Template as a starting point for writing the job description.


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What Are Your Requirements?

Now that you have prepared a written understanding of the job itself, you can decide on the skills and core competencies that you need in your new employee.

Core competencies include such things as communication skills, customer focus, conflict management, composure, approachability, dealing with ambiguity, action orientation, problem solving, decision making, motivating others, to name a few. It is important at this stage to have a clear understanding of which ones are essential for the person to have and which ones are "desirable." This step is invaluable to you when you are deciding on who to interview and who not to interview.

Chances are that you won't find someone with the perfect combination of skills, education, and competencies. It is important at this stage to think about which skills are essential are "desirable", how much on the job training are you prepared to do and what combination of education and experience you are willing to accept. These are important considerations in the screening applicants and interview processes.


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What Are You Offering?

Attracting skilled employees when job markets are tight is challenging, especially for smaller businesses. Employees are more likely to be lured away and more difficult to replace than in the past.

In those conditions, workers can choose their employers, so it is important that you use your job posting to attract them to your company. You can use the following checklist to remind you of what your company has to offer and include some of the key benefits in your job posting.


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  • Opportunity to learn on the job and to keep on learning Schedules that fit the employee's lifestyle
  • Mutual respect and support
  • Chance to take initiative and see a project through Meaningfulness in work
  • Variety in the work
  • Opportunity to work from home on occasion (telecommuting) Opportunity for promotion – an attractive future
  • Opportunity to take on more responsibility
  • Chance to be involved with decision- making
  • Opportunity to work with senior managers
  • A fun work environment
  • Personally rewarding work
  • Job security
  • An informal, non-bureaucratic workplace
  • A relaxed dress code
  • A safe and healthy work environment
  • Reasonable job demands
  • Competitive wages that are considered fair for the job Annual leave
  • Family or sick leave
  • Health Care benefits
  • Child Care – low cost, cooperative, etc.
  • Special perks - birthday celebrations, social club, day off on birthday, family events, etc. Paid gym or club memberships
  • Tuition support
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Free uniforms

If you refer to some of these items in your job postings or your interviews, be sure to be realistic – don't over or under sell your company.


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Post the Job

Use information from your company brochures or your own knowledge of the company, and the information contained in the job description you just created, to create a job ad or posting. The job ad should summarize what your company does; describe in a short paragraph the general purpose of the job and the training and experience needed; and provide instructions on how and when to apply.

Some items must be included in a job posting; others are optional depending on your company policy and the particular posting. The bold items are usually essential.


  • job title
  • employer's name
  • location of the job
  • brief, to-the-point company description
  • to whom the position reports
  • outline of job role and purpose - expressed in the 'second-person' (you, your, etc)
  • outline of ideal candidate profile - expressed in 'second-person' including qualifications and experience required. Consider if a particular skill or experience is a requirement or an 'asset'.  Can you provide on-the-job training in any of those areas, if needed?
  • salary or salary guide
  • whether the role is full-time, part-time, permanent or a short-term contract
  • other package details or guide (pension, car etc.)
  • response and application instructions
  • contact details as necessary, for example, address, phone, fax, email, etc.
  • request for references
  • website address


Use this Job Posting Template to create a job posting for the position you want to fill.

Check the "Finding Workers" section for suggestions on how to reach potential applicants and how to expand your usual pool of candidates.


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Do's and Don'ts of Job Posting

Please keep in mind the list of Do's and Don'ts below when posting a job.


Use one simple headline that is relevant and clear Don't use fancy graphics, layouts or fonts
Use simple fonts (such as Arial, Times New Roman, Courier, etc.) in 10,11, or 12 point size Don't use capital letters or italics
If company is well known, show the brand name in the posting Don't use strange colors
Use easy to read, simple language that the reader is likely to use and leave space around the text so it's easy to read Don't use jargon or too-technical language
Use short, to-the-point sentences and small paragraphs Don't use too many words
Stress what's unique about the company or the position, and try to incorporate something new into your posting Don't use boring descriptions
Get the reader involved in the position by using "you", "your" etc. Place the emphasis on the person Don't put too much emphasis on the job
If using print media, try to get your ad placed on the top right-hand corner. Next best is somewhere else on the right Don't waste money on huge ads
Be credible in your description of the job and the company. Describe the main points well Don't oversell or undersell the company or the position
Select the best option for advertising your position. See Finding Workers for ideas on where to post and how to read a broader pool of candidates. Don't miss out on great candidates.



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Screen Applications


Deciding on Interviews

Not everyone who applies for your job will be qualified, and you may receive more applications from qualified applicants than you will want to interview. This is when your deliberations on which skills are essential are "desirable", how much on the job training are you prepared to do and what combination of education and experience you are willing to accept starts to pay off.
Having a well thought out process for screening applicants can help you simplify this process.

The first step is to remove any applications from persons who lack the "essential qualifications. This will save you time as you have reduced the number of applications.

The next step is to review the remaining applications for evidence of the skills, qualities, education and experience you asked for in the job posting.


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Tips for Reviewing Resumes

Here are some tips that can help you when reviewing the resumes:

Overall appearance: Look for professional looking resumes. A sign of typos or a cluttered, unorganized resume shows that the applicant can be sloppy, careless and unprofessional. Be aware of significant gaps in experience which should be looked into. Also be careful of a significant number of jobs in a short period of time which may mean loyalty issues.

Career Path and Accomplishments: Look for things such as promotions, advancements, etc. Look for specific accomplishments instead of general responsibilities.

Don't consider: Don't consider personal information that may be on the resume. Things such as age, gender, marital status and religious beliefs have no impact on qualification for a job. And remember, you are looking for the best candidate for the job!

The following rating form may be helpful to you in comparing the applications. Simply insert your own values to each of the criteria you are using and your total point value, list the applicants in the left hand column, and rate the applications using the point values you have identified. The applicants with the highest total scores are the ones you would most likely interview.



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Conduct Fair and Objective Interviews

The job interview is an important factor in choosing the right candidate for the position. It not only helps a manager get to know an applicant's skills and knowledge, but it also helps the applicant get to know the company.

The best way to interview someone is to decide what questions to use before the interview. This is called a structured interview. In a structured interview, you ask all applicants the same questions and evaluate all their answers in the same way. You can be more objective when you use structured interviews.

A major interviewing pitfall for employers is hiring the person who was the best talker rather than the right person for the job. Using a structured interview process and asking well thought out questions will help you avoid this pitfall.


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How a Structured Interview Works

  • Interviewers ask all candidates the same questions.
  • All interview questions relate to the job description.
  • Questions focus on ways applicants behave using examples of the applicant's past behaviours.
  • Interviewers take notes during the interview.
  • A rating scale is used to rate the answer to each question and each possible response is assigned a score in advance so that all applicants are rated consistently.
  • Different weights can \ be assigned to each question according to the importance of the skill or knowledge.
  • Interviews are scored by totaling the scores for each question.

These aids will help you select interview questions and set up a guide for rating candidate responses.


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Interview Tips

  • Don't ask how applicants how they might behave in a situation or ask how they evaluate themselves. Instead have them describe how they have responded to past situations, using real examples.
  • Invite applicants to ask questions at the END of the interview so that the interview does not go off track.
  • Take detailed notes – it's actually quite hard to recall applicants' responses, especially after you have interviewed a few.
  • Welcome the applicants. Smile and take a minute to let them get comfortable before you start – even if it is just to comment on the weather and offer a glass of water.
  • Be clear about the next steps in the process and when you hope to reach a decision.
  • Create a list of interview questions that focuses on job related information. Human rights legislation protects employees and job applicants from discrimination. Make sure you know what you can and cannot ask during the interview.


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Recruitment Firms

There are many recruitment firms and job placement agencies throughout Nova Scotia that can help you with your recruitment needs, for a fee.

  • Some firms offer full service recruitment services while others offer job placement services. A list of recruitment firms and job placement agencies is located on the Explore Careers Nova Scotia website. Alternatively you can do an online search using key words.
  • Not all recruiters are licensed to recruit foreign workers for employers in Nova Scotia. For information about the Nova Scotia Foreign Worker Program.


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Make a Decision


How to Use the Guide for Rating Candidates

The following rating form can assist you in comparing the persons you interviewed. Assign a value to each of the skills listed on your candidate evaluation form, for example, if each skill is of equal importance you would assign equal values to them or if some skills are more important to the job than others, you would give them different total values, as seen below. A person who meets and exceeds your requirements in a particular skill would get full points, whereas a person who falls short would score less than that. The persons with the highest total scores should be your top candidates.



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Check References

Having decided on your top candidate(s), it is important to check references before you make the job offer. Many companies however are now refusing to provide detailed references on past or departing employees because of privacy or liability issues.


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Offer the Job

It is a good idea to provide a "Letter of Employment" to all new employees. This can also serve as your offer of employment. It ideally should be provided before the start of employment and should set out the duties and responsibilities of the job, wages or salary, hours of work, leave entitlements and other relevant items. Include a copy of the job description with the letter.

If your letter contains any special conditions or accommodations, it would be helpful to have an employment lawyer take a look at the offer before you make it.

When the position has been accepted in writing, send out polite rejection letters to the other applicants.


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Downloadable Resources