As a small business owner, you have a lot to juggle. Unfortunately, this means you may have a limited amount of time to interview prospective employees. You’ll get some great employees and some not so great employees, and you will have to waste even more time getting rid of the bad apples. Not placing enough importance on the screening process could also mean that you wake up in a foreign country with no memory of the last twenty-four hours, and a painful scar right where your kidney should be.
If you want to run a successful business, and get to keep all of your internal organs intact, then a proper hiring process is critical. Your employees are the people that represent your brand, build customer loyalty and retention, and that ultimately make your company money. You are investing in their potential, so you need to be certain that you choose the right ones. Not only that, but choosing the wrong ones can cost you. Did you know that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions? Or that one bad hire can equate to 30% of that individual’s first-year potential earnings?
So, what is the process of hiring a new employee? And how can you ensure that you locate the most viable new employees who will help your business remain on an upward trend? Here’s a great road-map to follow:
The first step towards hiring anyone is creating a comprehensive job description. If you don’t clearly define the parameters of a particular position, you aren’t going to attract the ideal candidate. So what makes a good job description? A detailed description will contain a variety of points, including but not limited to:
After you’ve posted the position online and in industry-specific publications, you should see resumes begin to pour in. Now it’s time to filter through them, weeding out those whose education or experience isn’t in the ballpark.
You might be surprised to learn that most candidates will be reluctant to include a detailed description of their stint at San Quentin prison on their resume. No, sadly, you may never see “shanking” listed under their skills. Sure, a background check will let you know about any major deal breakers right away – but you’re not there yet. That means you’ll have to read between the lines when reviewing resumes. First, try to look for patterns. Was this person successful in college (think GPA), and then had limited success afterward? Does this person have a history of working well with employers (think number of years at each job)? Was this person involved in team-related activities, or largely solo work? Everyone wants to put his or her best foot forward. So you’ll have to infer any missteps by fine-tooth combing their work history. The last thing you want to do is hire someone who is only dedicated enough to stick around until the next decent opportunity comes along.
Contemplate the following when placing calls. What key elements are you looking for in a new hire? What qualities are pluses and what missing pieces can you overlook? For example, let’s say you’re hoping for an assistant with in-depth knowledge of PowerPoint, and the candidate you are speaking with is only so-so at PowerPoint, but happens to be bilingual. Is that something you could work with? Don’t settle for less than the position requires, but don’t instantly discount seemingly exceptional candidates who may be short a technicality or two.
Compile a list of questions that get right to the point. Remember, everyone’s time is valuable. That means you can’t afford to beat around the bush. Here are a few examples that might be useful for the employer and for a job candidate wondering what to expect in a phone screen interview:
These basics will give you a good feel for the candidate’s qualifications as well as his or her level of professionalism on the phone. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to have a conversation! Ask for 3 professional references, and don’t forget to mention that if a position is extended to the candidate, it may be necessary to submit to a background check and/or drug screen, depending on your company’s policy. If there is currently no formal policy in place, now is the time to write one. The benefits of background checks are invaluable.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, the opportunity to sit across from the candidate and fire away with your inquiry. So what should you ask an employee during a face to face interview? You should already have a list of questions you asked during the phone screen. Now it’s time to broaden the scope and get a better idea of what makes the interviewee tick. You’ll want to start with a little small talk to break the ice, so to speak, and help the candidate to feel at ease. Then begin the process, going from simple to in-depth questions, and moving on if the candidate seems to be stuck. These are a good place to start:
You might want to supplement the interview with proficiency exams, such as those for software programs, or a personality inventory, to see if the candidate’s style appears to match your company’s culture. Be sure to explain your management style, expectations of the person in this role, your commitment to employees’ work/life balance, salary range, and additional benefits such as medical, childcare, legal services, etc.
It’s also a good idea to consider the 7 “C’s” as you search for the best man, or woman, for the job. Candidates should be competent and capable, compatible with your team, share a commitment to excellence, and have strength of character, among other important ideals. Are they responsible? How will they get along with your clients? Do they have a willingness to learn? These are all things you will find out when the candidate is sitting right in front of you.
Keep in mind, that saying about first impressions is ubiquitous for a reason: because it’s true. Candidates should be well groomed and articulate, provide thoughtful answers to interview questions, mention a few key points about the company to show they’ve done their research, express a desire to know more, and have a few questions of their own prepared for you. Be watchful for those who appear to be “reaching” for answers, whose verbal description of their experience doesn’t seem to match their resume, those who have an overly exaggerated demeanor or whose personality doesn’t look like it would mesh with your existing team.
Your demeanor and sense of decorum is as crucial, if not more so, than the candidate’s is. While the candidate *might* represent your company at some point, you DO represent your company. Make it look good.
Now that the hard part is over, it’s time to review your chicken scratch and decide just who will be the next member of your amazing team. Interviewing can be complicated. It definitely takes some advanced preparation, but it’s all in the interest of helping you find “the one” and saving you and your company from the headache of firing and rehiring down the road.