No matter how big or small a business is, a new hire is always a big deal. New hires are risky and expensive, but they’re also crucial for growing and improving a company. 

With open positions at an all-time high, hiring is expected to become more competitive for 74 percent of recruiters in the next several months. Maintaining an edge doesn’t just mean offering the highest salary or most benefits — it means using the right hiring techniques to find the right people for your position.

Bringing a new employee to your team is a long and difficult process, and many companies still use outdated practices. If you’re looking to hire the right way, make sure to:

1. Identify your business’s needs.

Take a step back, and determine what caused you to want to make this hire to begin with. Is there simply too much work to be done for you to do it all? Do you need someone with technical knowledge that your business doesn’t already have? While it may be obvious why you’re adding someone new to the payroll, asking questions like these can help determine what kind of hire is right for your business.

The point of these questions is ultimately to determine whether a full-time employee is what your business needs. Expanding your company is expensive, and it’s almost always cheaper to outsource or hire contractors for small-scale work. Full-time employees are a major cash investment that also require extensive work in getting integrated into the culture of your office. If your business’s need is long-term or specialized or requires hands-on work from multiple workers, a new hire might be the way to go. 

2. Determine the actual cost.

It’s common knowledge that taking on new workers is a massive expense, but it’s not always easy to tell exactly what that means in terms of dollars and cents. Between salary, benefits, insurance, and other expenses, calculating the ROI of a new hire is a murky process. 

Going over expense sheets for current employees is a good place to start, and tools like OnPay’s employee gross-up calculator can make the number-crunching easier. This is a model you can also spread to existing employees: Once you have the likely ROI for a new hire, compare that to the ROI of existing employees. Knowing how much a new employee will contribute to the value of your company is critical information for deciding what kind of hire to make.

3. Get the job description right.

Getting the position listing correct from the beginning can save you lots of time down the line. Work closely with HR and the team the position is part of in order to get the specifics of the job description correct; you don’t want to alienate anyone with poor use of technical language or unreasonable requirements. A poorly written job posting can easily attract the wrong applicants. 

Tools like Indeed’s job description template are a good place to start for crafting the structure of  your posting, but the description itself requires some heavy lifting on your part. Think about what you value most in your current employees — is it their knowledge? Friendliness? Education? Indicate in the job description that you’re looking for employees who have the same qualities as your best workers. 

4. Hold the right interview for the role.

The classic interview model is broken. One-third of employers state that they know whether they’ll hire someone within the first 90 seconds of an interview, despite that not being nearly enough time to know what someone is capable of. As tempting as it can be to make hires based on appearance, demeanor, and “fit,” consider taking a more contemporary approach to interviewing.

Working interviews are becoming increasingly popular, with employees working in the office for anywhere from an hour to a week to demonstrate their professional capabilities. More technical roles often include assessments like programming challenges, which show specialized knowledge as well as problem-solving ability. Develop an interview that tests for the qualities you’re looking for specifically. (Remember that any work needs to be paid.)

5. Don’t neglect onboarding.

The facts supporting the importance of onboarding are striking — new employees who go through onboarding are nearly 70 percent more likely to remain at a company after three years than those who don’t. Yet 35 percent of companies continue to spend no money on onboarding whatsoever. Maximizing the ROI of a new hire is impossible if new employee retention remains low, so onboarding should be a nonnegotiable part of every new hiring process.

Onboarding isn’t just about keeping employees around; it’s also about getting them working well. A good onboarding process should include training components that maximize a new hire’s productivity as quickly as possible. Transitioning to a new position can be jarring, and a well-developed onboarding process helps ensure that employees are ready to do their best work as quickly as possible.

Hiring a new employee is always a risky task, so it’s important to refine every step of the process to ensure that the role is going to the right person. Hiring doesn’t end with a handshake, however, and it’s just as important to set your new employee up for success from his or her first day on the job. A new hire isn’t a momentary expense, but a long-term investment in the future of an individual — and your business as a whole.