Many small business owners are so busy running their businesses that hiring employees can slip to the bottom of the list – until a major ball gets dropped. When that happens, often entrepreneurs will compromise and grab the first person who comes along. They don’t interview multiple candidates, check references, or even develop a detailed job description to see if the person’s skills are a match. They take a candidate’s word for it. They settle for a candidate who shows interest or just needs a job. Don’t just hire a warm body– hire the right candidate.
Here are six ways to hire great employees for your small business.
1. Develop a job description. Take the time to figure out exactly what skill sets are needed in your company. Be as comprehensive as possible, but also make it clear that all workers are expected to be flexible and jump in where needed.
2. Ask the right questions. Small business owners often hire unqualified employees because they don’t follow up on information shared during the interview. They hire people because they genuinely “like” the candidate or get wooed by their willingness to be a “fast learner”. They run into problems because they don’t test the candidate’s skills. If you need your employees to write business letters, test their writing skills. if you need them to know social media, see what they are already doing online. You need people to hit the ground ready to help your business. OJT – or on the job training – is not something most small business owners can afford. Hire employees who have the skills you need to be successful.
3. Make sure the candidate’s skills are up to date. You certainly want to hire people who have business experience, but you need to make sure their skills are up to date and relevant to your business. Often, people who have spent the majority of their career in Corporate America struggle to thrive in the small business environment without all the structure and resources. Focus on the candidate’s specific work achievements, not their years of experience. Look for people who are willing to help you create processes and systems in your business. You must stay focused on your company’s specific operating needs.
4. Hire people who can think. People who work in small businesses need to be problem solvers. They must be able to think on their own and be highly self-directed. You want employees who are highly motivated to exceed work goals. Create interview questions that probe how a candidate handles high-pressure situations. Some small businesses, particularly in the early years, can be a real rollercoaster and any new hire must be able to roll with it.
5. Look for teammates. It really does take teamwork to make the dream work. You want to make sure that your new hire fits the culture of your company. It is possible to have four generations in the workplace at one time, and you need to make sure that energy works for how you want to run your business. Ask prospects how they handle disappointments and being frustrated. You need people who will be adults who communicate about challenges, can shake things off and not get easily discouraged from setbacks.
6. Fire fast. One monkey doesn’t stop the show. Never be afraid to fire someone that works for you. You should always know your next hire for every position in your company, so that you don’t feel like you are being held captive by anyone. Use 90-120 day probation periods for all new hires. Give your new hire a chance to correct their initial impression with one feedback conversation. If they continue to struggle, cut your losses and fire them fast. For non-critical roles, try using a temp service for some positions with an option to bring the worker on permanently.
Make a list of your top three skills any new hire must have to make your final decision, get three references and check them all, and don’t forget to do a Google search and or background check to make sure your job candidate is all that they seem.
Image “Hire Fire Keys” courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net