Hiring employees is probably the hardest thing any small business will ever do, especially if you’ve always operated with a small, close-knit staff, or even as a family business. Attracting the right employees and retaining them is as important, if not more, than attracting and retaining customers.
Here are a few tips for hiring the right candidates:
1. Set up a hiring process. Like any task in your company, hiring needs to be a process that you create, maintain, and improve. It’s just like the order entry process and the product creation process. It needs to be thorough and reviewed with others who will be involved. Also, look for some experts in this field to help you. If you’ve never been trained to hire someone, you probably just use the techniques people used on you when you were being hired in the past. Finally, in that hiring process, have a systematic scoring system you can use. This way the search is data driven, not gut and feel driven, as that rarely works out.
2. Sell it. Think of your job posting as a sales ad to attract good people, not an ugly job posting to deter bad people. Most all of us think about writing a job description with the thought in mind that people applying need us more than we need them. The problem with this thought process is we are going to only attract people that are probably looking for a job for a reason. When we write a job description we are typically writing the minimum requirements to do the job. With that approach, you’re probably going to find people who only have those minimum required skills or are willing to lie about their skills to get the job. Thus, you end up fishing in the wrong job pool, that 10 percent of candidates who are aggressively seeking work do so because they are unemployed. Conversely, 70 percent of candidates are open to the possibility of a new job with the right opportunity. This is where top talent can be found, but only if you’re working to attract those folks. Use the interview process to weed out the people that don’t fit, not the job description. If you have a systematic hiring process, you can easily weed the wrong candidates out quickly after you get in touch with them, not before you even have a chance.
3. Improve your interviewing skills. One of the reasons that most of us are horrible at finding out what the candidate will be like once they are part of your company is that most of us have been on the other side of the table. As humans, we want to connect with people. But remember, we are only perfect two times in our lives; when we are born and when we write our résumé. The second issue is that we don’t know who we are looking for because we don’t clearly define the role. Because of this, we have no way to measure success with some sort of a roadmap with goals. Beyond that, many small businesses haven’t clearly stated what the company vision and strategy is. You must define success very clearly in the hiring process, otherwise you are setting up the candidate for failure.
4. Pick the right questions. In interviews, we typically pose vague questions, like “For this position, we are looking for someone who can multitask, is that you?” An interviewee who truly needs a job won’t answer “no” to this question. You need to dig deeper and ask for specific examples of how they will multitask, and ask for examples of how they have done that in the past. That said, we are too focused on what someone did in the past at other companies, and not focused enough on what they will do in the future at your company. When asking for examples, also ask how they would use their past experiences in your company. Just because they were successful in the past with a similar role doesn’t mean they will be successful in your company with your culture and your resources.