How to Hire HR Professionals

Executive Focused on Laptop

Human resources is a crucial part of any organization’s long-term growth. But it’s often the last function to be built out. While some organizations fear that HR is an unnecessary expense, it is actually a valuable investment. The help of an HR professional will pay off in countless ways across the organization.

Having an experienced HR person on your team will help you find the best employees, quickly onboard them, guide them along their career path, reduce turnover, and resolve interpersonal conflicts that arise. Your HR staff can also assist with payroll and benefits, legal compliance, internal policies, and other essential processes.

When Is it Time to Hire Your First HR Professional?

For most new businesses and first-stage startups, it doesn’t make sense to hire a dedicated HR professional. Often, compliance and culture needs are simple and manageable, and the finance leader or office manager can handle the day-to-day operations of payroll and benefits.

However, each new team member exponentially increases the complexity of an organization’s operations. Once organizations hit the forty-employee mark, culture shifts and impending compliance regulations make having a dedicated HR resource a necessity. At this point, the organization’s HR demands will either go beyond an office manager’s expertise or become too much of a drain on the time and energy of the finance lead.

And the sooner you make an HR hire the better, since the absence of an HR professional can have far-reaching consequences. Studies show that the cost of replacing an employee can range from one-half to twice their annual salary. Beyond just the immediate cost, losing an employee can affect your customer relationships, slow down your productivity, and affect staff morale—potentially leading to a domino turnover effect.

Your business can also face major costs from failing to follow regulatory compliance or a lawsuit from an employee over a situation that HR could have easily prevented or mitigated.

How to Hire HR Professionals

Creating a Job Description

The first step in hiring an HR professional is to determine your organization’s needs. Will you require a full-time employee or part-time? Are you more focused on hiring and onboarding or on keeping the day-to-day operations running smoothly? Do you anticipate only needing one HR person for the foreseeable future, or will you eventually need this person to lead their own department?

All of these questions and more will help you create a clear goal for the hire, including what the ideal candidate should look like. This clarity will allow you to build a detailed and specific job description to attract candidates who fit your ideal profile.

The profile should include all the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations that you have for the role. It should be comprehensive while still allowing for flexibility—both for your own needs and for the new HR hire to take ownership of the role.

Make sure to highlight any HR-specific trainings or certifications that you’re looking for, such as SHRM-CP or PHR.

Posting the Position

Well-known platforms such as LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Glassdoor are always a good place to start. You should also leverage your organization’s social media profiles, industry associations, and professional networks to improve your efforts.

There are professional HR associations and platforms where many potential candidates will look for a position, and getting your opening posted there can be a major boost to your hiring efforts. For example, a local SHRM chapter. However, it can take time to find the right places to post and a significant amount of money to make sure the position is getting seen by the right people.

Working with an HR recruiting firm can shorten the process, allowing you to quickly post the position to the websites and platforms most frequented by HR professionals. They’ll know the best places to post the position, and they may also have a prebuilt pool of vetted potential candidates and their own industry network filled with high-quality, experienced candidates.

Reviewing Candidates

Screening the applications you receive can feel overwhelming if you don’t do it on a regular basis. You’ll likely receive a lot of long-shot resumes from prospective candidates who don’t have the background or skill set you’re looking for. Looking at dozens or even hundreds of resumes can be a challenge since they can all blend together, and it can be tough to learn much about a candidate from their resume alone.

Some businesses like to ask for something extra in their postings to help their candidates show themselves as individuals and create space for them to put forward their arguments for why they would be the best fit for the position. You may request a recorded video introduction, an example of a previous project, or a short assignment to help you identify strong candidates. Using an application tracking system can also make your job a lot easier as you move candidates through the phases of the hiring process.


Interviews can be especially useful for finding the right candidates for an HR position since they’ll need to prove that they have excellent communication skills and that they can navigate any number of questions about their work history, education, and goals. 

The goal of the interview is to ensure that they can talk with expertise about what is on their resume and that they have ideas that they can bring to your organization. It’s also essential to get a sense of the candidate’s values and how they would approach potentially tricky situations such as conflict resolution.

Be sure to create a list of questions that you feel confident in, such as:

  • Can you walk me through your experience in HR, including your key responsibilities and accomplishments in previous roles?
  • What motivated you to pursue a career in HR, and what aspects of the profession do you find most rewarding?
  • How do you stay updated on HR laws, regulations, and best practices, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your work?
  • Can you provide an example of a challenging employee relations issue you’ve handled in the past and how you resolved it?
  • How do you approach recruitment and talent acquisition to attract top candidates and ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce?
  • Can you describe your experience with performance management processes, including goal setting, feedback, and performance evaluations?
  • How do you prioritize and manage multiple HR projects and initiatives simultaneously?
  • Can you share an example of a time when you had to navigate a complex HR compliance issue, and how did you ensure compliance while balancing business needs?
  • How do you foster employee engagement and morale within an organization, especially during times of change or uncertainty?
  • Can you discuss your approach to developing and implementing HR policies, procedures, and initiatives that align with organizational goals and values?
  • How do you handle confidential information and maintain confidentiality in HR matters?
  • Can you describe your experience with HR technology and systems, including HRIS, ATS, and performance management software?
  • How do you approach conflict resolution and mediation between employees or teams?
  • Can you provide an example of a successful HR project or initiative you led, including the challenges you faced and the outcomes achieved?

Pre-hire Assessment and Reference Check

Interviewing, while important, shouldn’t be the only point of data you collect. Pre-hire or pre-employment assessments can add another layer of insight into a candidate. They are best used in the final round of interviews. There are many pre-hire assessments out there, but make sure you are using one that is validated for pre-employment and that you understand how to interpret the results.

Hiring and Onboarding

Once you’ve singled out a candidate that you feel confident in, it’s time to extend an offer and bring them on the team. You’ll want to create a comprehensive onboarding process in advance, and it should include details on company policies, hiring processes, regulatory compliance, and more. 

If possible, choose an executive or high-ranking staff member to serve as their mentor to provide the support and guidance they need to get up to speed quickly and be successful in their new position.

Laying a Foundation for Success

If you’re hiring the first HR professional for your organization, you’ll want to set them up for success by allowing them to tap into the resources of an experienced HR team. Many growing organizations hire HR professionals out of college or with minimal on-the-job experience to save money, but that means they’ll likely be less effective.

Using fractional HR through a retainer model will allow you to provide your new HR professional with the resources and mentorship they need. Working with an HR firm on a retainer empowers you to build the proper foundation for hiring your first HR employee. Once that HR foundation is in place, they can assist with the hiring process and help develop the new hire as they start their HR career at your organization.

Talk to the HR Experts

If you’re looking to hire an experienced, knowledgeable, and highly qualified HR candidate for your organization, the experts at HR Collaborative can help. Reach out to our team today to find the ideal candidate in 45 days or less.

Share This Article