Hiring a new employee can be stressful–especially for a small business. Get it right, and you improve the productivity and profitability of the company. Get it wrong, and it can end up costing the company dearly–in time, money and, potentially, reputation.
While there is always an element of the unknown when making a new hire, there are some tried-and-true guidelines that organizations can follow to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
- Your ‘gut’ isn’t a hiring manager. Your intuition can be a powerful force, but, when it comes to hiring, gut feelings should not drive your decision-making process. Rely more on work samples and references and less on a candidate’s charisma.
- Favors to friends and family won’t do you any favors. Cousins, nephews, buddies and next-door neighbors–keep all these individuals in their place. Due to emotional ties and the complications that come with friendships, bringing personal and family relations into the workplace can be a recipe for trouble if things don’t go well on the job.
- Not every great candidate is a great small-business candidate. The stellar designer whose last job was in a shiny office tower with 10 times the resources your small business can provide might not be the right fit. Problems arise when a new hire has all the right qualifications and skills, but also has expectations that are torqued to a big-business kind of horsepower. Be clear with your candidates about the nature of a small business — your small business. Be specific about its atmosphere and limitations, and also its charms. How a candidate responds can tell you a lot about how he or she will fit into a small-shop experience.
- Listen more than you speak. You feel strongly about your business and love talking about it, but it’s important when interviewing a job candidate to listen more than speak. Market the pros of your company and provide all pertinent information, but then stop talking for as long as you can and open your mind to what the potential employee has to say. Watch the candidate’s body language and seek out tones, textures and all the little things that will develop your impression of how this person’s skills and background match up with how they present themselves and who they probably really are.
- Beware of illegal questions: Small-business owners may not have a human resources department or even an HR specialist on board, so they have to learn themselves what is and isn’t OK to ask during a job interview. Stay away from questions about things like pregnancy, marital status or age. Basically, avoid any questions whose answers could be perceived as placing a candidate at a disadvantage.
The good news is that successful hiring comes down mostly to common sense. Pay attention to these tips and then start fielding your best bets with the confidence that you’re about to find the right person for the job — and that you’re going about it by making all the right moves yourself.