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Your Complete Pre-Hire Checklist for Recruiting Success

Are you struggling with recruitment? If your pipeline seems to have a bunch of roadblocks, questionable candidates, or rushed decisions, or perhaps your new-hire turnover rate is through the roof, it’s time to dissect your process and figure out where you’re missing the mark. 

Ideally, your hiring funnel should be wide enough to attract a diverse range of applicants, selective enough to weed out unsuitable ones, and smart enough to surface candidates with the highest potential for Quality of Hire.

This checklist can help you upgrade your recruitment process, using pre-hire data to drive decision-making and resulting in better post-hire performance and retention across all levels of your organization.

1. Define the Job Requirements:

What will your candidates need to be able to do? To clearly outline the job title, responsibilities, and required qualifications, you’ll need to first determine the desired skills and experience for the position. Make sure you get manager and team input on what’s really needed in a new hire. This will help you collect pertinent pre-hire data later in the process.

Ensure that you aren’t putting less impactful data points (like a bachelor’s degree) in front of more important ones (like soft skills required for customer service success.) You can always pay for an otherwise highly qualified new hire to take a crash course in a software program, but the ability to remain calm when interacting with an angry customer is a skill that is harder to teach.

Read more here: The importance of hiring based on skills and competencies tied to outcomes


2. Develop the Job Description:

What are you looking for in a candidate? Create a detailed and accurate job description that includes key responsibilities and expectations. Highlight the company's culture, values, and any unique selling points. Your ideal candidate will be discerning and your job description should be geared to attract qualified applicants and extract critical pre-hire data from them.

Many organizations find it more helpful to create two lists: one list representing the non-negotiable requirements list, and another “nice-to-have” or “bonus” list. Again, take into account the value of hard-to-teach soft skills and skills that can fill gaps in your organization as you develop your description. A well-written description will yield candidates with the right attributes for the position.

3. Review and Update Recruitment Processes:

How will you attract top candidates? Evaluate your existing recruitment process and identify areas for improvement. Are you spending a fortune on hiring boards or recruiters who aren’t delivering results? You can often reduce your recruiting costs by trimming the dead branches.

Use specific candidate sourcing metrics to determine the most effective sourcing channels, whether they be job boards, social media, referrals, or other sources. Which sources deliver the best applicants and the most pre-hire data? Focus on those channels and refine your techniques for attracting suitable candidates.

Build an automated, new source of quality candidates
using Recruit functionality of Crosschq 360.
Learn more about sourcing intelligence here.

4: Create an Attractive Job Ad:

What are your best candidates looking for in a job? Craft a compelling job advertisement that accurately represents the position and appeals to potential candidates. Give them good job data, and they will give you back good pre-hire data. 

Include all essential information such as job title, responsibilities, required qualifications, required work location (if applicable), salary range, and application instructions. Your job ad should be free from buzzwords or phrases that carry unconscious bias. Non-inclusive wording can cause your organization to lose up to 39% of qualified candidates, according to McKinsey. 

5. Develop Screening Criteria:

Which of your candidates are best matches? Define specific criteria to evaluate candidates' resumes or applications effectively. If you are using automation, make sure your parameters aren’t set too tightly—you could miss out on great candidates due to bias in the data fed to models that depend on machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

Identify key qualifications, skills, and experience that align with the job requirements. Don’t forget that you can teach hard skills, but soft skills are ultimately the ones that make candidates more valuable, more successful and increase Quality of Hire.

6: Review Resumes and Applications:

What do you know about your candidates? You’ll need to screen all received resumes and/or applications against the defined criteria, and shortlist candidates who meet the initial requirements for further evaluation. Remember, the data you get from resumes and application forms is just a starting point, and it’s almost always insufficient for making a decision.

Here is a list of key candidate traits that indicate a higher Quality of Hire.

If an automated system is doing all of this initial screening, make sure you revisit rejected applications regularly to spot check in case high-quality applicants are being filtered out. If a human is doing the initial candidate screening, check your stats to head off unconscious bias (examples: all applicants sent to the next stage are the same gender, or graduated from the same college.)

7. Conduct Phone Screenings or Initial Interviews:

How can you get a better handle on each candidate? Schedule and conduct brief phone screenings or initial interviews to assess candidates' suitability. Here’s a good chance to spot any interview red flags before you commit a lot of company time and resources to your final round of candidates.

Ask relevant questions to evaluate each candidate’s experience, skills, and cultural fit. Use the same questions for each candidate, or you won’t end up with usable pre-hire data. Ideally, the person conducting these initial interviews will be specifically chosen and trained for the task (even an early and/or brief interview should hit all of these five interview stages.)

8. Conduct Reference Checks:

How do you learn more about your candidates? It’s customary to contact provided references to verify the candidate's qualifications, work ethic, and performance later in the process. However, using an automated tool like Crosschq 360 Reference Checks allows you to  gather better pre-hire data earlier. This data is useful for weeding out poor fit candidates earlier, and applying candidate insights to your hiring analysis – for example, asking specific questions during the interviews. 

Here’s a quick guide on
how and why you should conduct reference checks earlier in the game


Also, Crosschq 360 allows the candidate to perform a self-reference check first based on specific questions related to their previous roles and responsibilities. Then the same set of questions and scoring metric are given by their references, as well as all other candidates and their references. The result is a comprehensive, comparative report across all candidates with a wealth of pre-hire data that lets you compare apples to apples, as opposed to traditional reference checks which typically yield little or no actionable information. 

9. Coordinate In-Person or Video Interviews:

How do you narrow down candidates to your final few? When do you really get serious with your candidates? Select qualified candidates for in-person or video interviews. The best path forward at this stage of the hiring process is to coordinate for a team interview. You’re investing time in the candidate, and accurate, unbiased data is required. 

Interviews only have a 9% correlation rate to Quality of Hire. Be very structured and strategic about interviews to get better insights.


Prepare a set of structured interview questions to assess each candidate’s qualifications, problem-solving abilities, and behavioral traits. While interviews are important, they can’t be the main determinant behind hiring decisions; interview scores only have a 9% correlation to Quality of Hire and are not a reliable way to predict candidate success.

10. Assess Technical Skills or Assignments:

What can your candidates do well? Depending on the role, administer skill-based tests, coding challenges, or assignments to evaluate candidates' technical proficiency. Demands on each candidate’s time should be minimized when possible, but you want enough pre-hire data to make an informed decision. 

Define clear evaluation criteria for consistent assessment, and ensure it is applied evenly across your final candidate pool. These tests, challenges, and assignments should be purely skills and knowledge-based. Use pre-employment testing best practices and aggregate this pre-hire data over time to correlate to post-hire performance.

11. Evaluate Cultural Fit / Add:

Which of your candidates will enhance your workplace? Assess how well each one aligns with your company's values, work environment, and team dynamics. You can consider organizing informal meetings or team introductions to gauge your top choices’ compatibility, but don’t forget that a homogenized culture is a stagnant culture.

Look for what each candidate brings to the table from the angle of potential creativity and innovation. It’s been proven that more diverse teams increase revenues; in fact, company-wide diversity can drive up to 20% more innovation and 19% more revenues as a result. Pre-hire data you gather in this area can help drive your DEIB efforts.

12. Background and Credential Verification:

Are your candidates telling the truth? If applicable, conduct background checks, employment verification, and credential verification to ensure the candidate's claims are valid. A study done in 2020 revealed that one out of three candidates admit to lying on their resume! Even worse, some could be setting up your company in order to commit fraud once hired.


One out of three candidates admit to lying on their resume.


A background check isn’t the same as a reference check, and it is very limited in what you can discover. However, it is a valid way of verifying specific types of pre-hire data, and can be critical for certain roles and certain industries. At the very least, it will give you an idea about the honesty of your candidate pool.

This is another step in the hiring process where reference checks (when done correctly) can add further value. Crosschq 360 includes automatic fraud warnings and alerts, detecting when a candidate may have been fraudulent in the reference gathering process. Many clients find it invaluable in filtering out candidates who were in fact untruthful (and otherwise would not have been found out). Unfortunately, candidate fraud is on the rise, but here is what you can do about it. 

11. Make the Offer:

Can you secure your top candidate choice? Once you've identified the top candidate, extend a formal job offer. Don’t hesitate once you’ve found the right candidate; top talent could have multiple attractive offers heading their way, and aren’t going to wait around to hear yours.  Clearly communicate compensation, benefits, start date, and any other relevant details. 

Use your pre-hire data when making the offer - it could contain important facts like how much your candidate made before and how much they think they are worth now. Candidate experience is critical here, as it is in every phase of the hiring funnel. If your acceptance rate is lower than 40%, there’s likely a disconnect somewhere in your candidate communication process, possibly as early as the job ad phase!

The best way to find out how your candidate experience is perceived, is to ask! Here’s everything you need to know on Candidate Experience NPS.

12. Notify Unsuccessful Candidates:

Are you showing the candidate the respect you’d want shown to you? Notify all interviewed candidates who were not selected for the position. There’s simply no excuse to not provide this courtesy given tools can be automated to simplify the process. Remember though, although automation can make this easier, make every effort to personalize each response.

Provide feedback, if possible, to help your runners-up candidates understand why they were not chosen. A whopping 94% of rejected candidates seek feedback, and those who receive it are four times more likely to apply for a position at the same company in the future. If you save pre-hire data from silver-medalist candidates, you may be able to make them an offer from another role. 

13. Complete New Hire Documentation:

How do you get ready to bring your selected candidate on board? Start by preparing all of the necessary paperwork, contracts, and other new hire documentation. While you’ll need to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, a main goal here should be making paperwork as easy as possible on your new hire and your HR department alike.

A lot of pre-hire data can be utilized to autofill forms which can then be checked by your new hire for accuracy before signing. Consider using online verification and signing tools to make this step even easier.

14. Plan Onboarding and Orientation:

Is your chosen candidate ready to start, and is your team ready to welcome them? Develop an onboarding plan to help new hires integrate smoothly into the company. You should schedule orientation sessions and provide relevant information about the company, policies, and procedures.

Also get your team and managers ready for the new hire. Providing them with relevant pre-hire data can help them understand their new team member’s strengths and weaknesses, so they can train and use them for maximum performance. 


Crosschq 360 provides informative reports that can be utilized in creating a personalized onboarding plan to ensure the success of your new hire.


These reports should be kept on file for future reference in case an employee doesn’t live up to Quality of Hire expectations.

Crosschq 360 Digital Reference Checks

Accurate, actionable pre-hire data is the best way to attract, identify, and hire terrific candidates who will stay with your company long term, perform at a high level. The long-term result:  better company-wide Quality of Hire.  

Crosschq 360 is the fastest, candidate-friendly way to gather verified pre-hire insights. This easy to use solution can be customized for your specific needs, by industry, department, and role. Use it to ensure skills and competencies are a fit and eliminate hiring bias with every position you fill. 360 Reference Reports help you save valuable time and money by freeing your recruiters and hiring managers up to do other important tasks and improving new hire retention.

Enhance your candidates’ experience with better, smarter, faster hiring. Rated as the most candidate-friendly reference-checking tool, Crosschq 360 provides complete transparency and encourages high quality candidates to recommend the organization to friends and colleagues.

Ask for a demonstration from our team today.


Katie Kennedy

by Katie Kennedy

Talent Consulting Lead

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