Most employers don't take a systematic approach to hiring, especially when it comes to hourly employees. They just post an ad on their website or a job board, collect applications, interview a few people and choose one.

Unfortunately, this no-system, easy-hire approach is self-defeating. It tells every applicant you just need a body to fill the position. And it's why the person hired will often turn out to have an "it's just a job" attitude because that's the impression the employer gave them.

The better approach is to create a system and hire tough. Hire-tough managers have discovered that the harder they make the job to get, the more the best people want it. When you hire tough, you create the impression that yours is a special place to work and that the job is highly desirable.

The seven steps in a hire-tough system are:

1. Job analysis: Writing a thorough job analysis is the first and most crucial step. What capacities (mental and physical), attitudes, personality traits and skills does the job-holder need to have to be a peak performer?

2. Recruiting: A few minutes a day devoted to recruiting activities ensures you're not caught in a bind when you have an immediate need to hire someone. Ongoing recruiting activities prevent the worst mistake of all — desperation hiring.

3. Employment application: Every step in the hiring process should be viewed as a test. Structuring the system this way uses more of the applicant's time and less of yours. The first test is the employment application. Is it neat, clean and legible? Did the applicant follow all instructions? If not, why waste any time with someone who's unwilling or unable to follow instructions?

4. Phone screen: A short prescreen by phone will ensure applicants meet your basic requirements. Call promising applicants to find out if they have reliable transportation, if there are any days and times they can't work, if the salary you're offering meets their needs. Prescreening by phone saves you time and reduces your legal exposure.

5. Testing: You've probably learned the hard way that an applicant can make a great first impression and turn out to be a real dud on the job. Pre-employment testing is the only way to ensure you get what you need. Always test for any specific skills needed, but, whenever possible, hire for attitude and train for skills. Because most terminations are due to attitude problems, many companies offer simple, online attitude evaluations that measure traits like honesty, customer service orientation and dependability.

6. Interview: While it's still the cornerstone of the employment process, too many interviewers talk way too much during interviews. They talk about the company, their history with the company and the job they need to fill — all the while spoon-feeding the applicant the answers to the interview questions they will ask. For an interview to be a sound basis for a hiring decision, the applicant should do 80 percent of the talking.

7. Employment references and background: Because you and your company can be held liable for the acts of your employees, you should check employment references on every new hire and run the additional checks — drug screens, driving records, criminal records, credit checks — that are appropriate to the position filled. Negligent hiring lawsuits fetch big settlements, so all offers of employment need to be contingent on the outcome of these needed verifications.

When you systemize your hiring process and make your jobs tough to get, you will be able to attract more applicants of a higher quality and select the best of those.