The key to growing any business is having the right team. A bad hire can cost you time and money—a good hire can do the opposite. Knowing when and whom to hire can be an ongoing challenge.
This guide can help make the hiring process easier for you. It’s broken down into three hiring stages: preparing for the interview (yes, you need to do some prep work!); during the interview and post-interview.
These steps create a system for you that you can replicate over and over again with each potential candidate. It will help you weed out the wrong fits and hone it on the people who can really help your business thrive.
Preparing For the Interview
It may seem like the candidates should be the ones doing all of the prep work for the interview but in the end, it’s actually you, the business owner, who has more on the line here. Therefore, it’s more important for you to prepare so that you don’t end up hiring the wrong person.
Step 1: Understand Your Objective
What’s the objective in hiring this new person? What need are they going to fulfill in your business? Think about the “need” more than the role or job title.
For example, are you needing someone to handle marketing? If so, what kind of marketing? Will they be focused primarily on social media or will they also be putting together print and online ads?
Also, you may want to reassess if the new person will be replacing someone who’s leaving. Businesses should always be evolving as markets change, which means your staff’s roles should adjust with the times. Just because the last person had a certain role in your business doesn’t mean the next person needs to be performing the exact same tasks.
Are there new job responsibilities that this person could conduct to make your business more profitable and efficient? Now is the time to ask this question before you hire someone new.
Step 2: Know Who You Are
What’s your company culture? Is it laid-back or formal? Do you have team events? Are employees expected to work long hours? What kind of personality fits in with the other employees?
Knowing who you are as a company can help you hire the right personalities. If your company culture is formal, for example, then hiring someone who’s laid-back and who shows up wearing jeans will most likely be a mistake.
On the other hand, if your company is more modern with a casual vibe, someone who is stuffy and formal wouldn’t fit in.
Step 3: Prepare a good job description
Once you’ve thought about the needs this person would be fulfilling and you’re company’s culture, you can now prepare a good job description based on this information. This description can be used in any ads you place on job boards.
To write an effective ad, you (or your HR person) can use this format, in the following order:
- the job title, type (full-time, part-time or contractor) along with a brief description of the role
- some info about your business, including the nature of your business and company culture
- a more detailed description of the job
- the type of skills, education and personality you’re looking for
- any benefits and perks offered
The last point shouldn’t be overlooked. Before publishing your ad, you must think, what’s in it for the applicant?
No one wants to work for a business that doesn’t offer anything beyond a paycheck. People want to feel like they’re working for the right company—a company that cares about them enough to offer a few perks here and there—even if it’s just free coffee and an annual holiday party.
Whatever those perks are, be sure to include them in your copy.
Step 4: Prepare Effective Questions
This person could be someone you and/or your staff interact with every business day so you want to get to know them as much as you can in the short time you have.
Typical questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses” really limit what you learn about them. Plus, typical questions may provoke typical, scripted responses.
Instead, ask more non-traditional questions, such as:
- What’s missing in your current job that you’re hoping to get with this one?
- What kind of environment would you prefer to work in?
- What’s your primary motivation for working in this field?
- What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
- Which benefits are most important to you and why?
- Do you prefer to do the same one or two tasks each day or would you prefer a more dynamic role?
Questions like these are unexpected and, as a result, you are more likely to get authentic responses from the applicant.
Deciding ahead which types of these questions to ask will help the interview progress smoothly.
Day of the Interview
Step 5: Pick a Second Location Beyond Your Office
It’s fine to start off the interview in your office, but for best results, consider moving the interview to a second location. This allows you to observe how they interact with others and adapt to different situations.
You can take interviewees to lunch or for coffee, even if it’s in your building’s cafeteria. Talking to them in a less formal setting gets them to relax and be more themselves—and get beyond the façade they may be projecting.
Be sure to give them time and space to talk about themselves. Are they a positive person? Do they have negative things to say about former employers? What’s their attitude toward the work they’ve done and will be doing?
You can also show them around the rest of the office and let them meet other staff members. Watch how they conduct themselves. Are they polite? Do they make eye contact? Do they take an interest in others? Are they confident?
Depending on the type of personality you’re looking for, their interactions with you and everyone else can help you determine if a person is a good fit or not.
Step 6: Listen Well and Take Notes
Interviews can go by in a blur. Take notes, especially if you have a lot of candidates to interview. It can be easy to get confused about who said what.
This will also help you if you have a tough choice between several candidates: You can use the notes to decipher through deciding factors you may have missed in the moment.
Step 7: Gather Feedback
This is the time to consult with the other staff members whom your candidate met during the interview process. What did they think of him or her? Pay particular attention to senior staff members, as well as any employees who would be working directly with the new hire.
You will also want to look through your notes, as this is another form of feedback. As I mentioned above, going over the notes post-interview can help you validate (or dismiss) any impression you may have been getting in the moment.
Step 8: Do a Gut Check
Once you’ve talked to others and gone over your notes, you should have an overall feeling about whether or not a person you interviewed feels “right.”
Even if logic tells you a particular person should be a good fit, if something seems off then go with your gut. Our subconscious minds can pick up cues that can go beyond the obvious.
The Interview Process
These steps may make the interview process a bit more tedious but having the right team in place can make or break your business. Better to get it right the first time so you don’t have to deal with the ugly mess of having to fire someone in the future.
Plus, even if you have someone who doesn’t warrant being fired, finding someone who’s just “okay” versus someone who is an excellent fit can make a big difference in your bottom line.
If you want to grow your business—and net worth—you have to use an effective process to hire well.