7 Steps to Successful Hiring For Small Businesses

In small businesses a single employee may wear many hats and as your company grows so do the responsibilities and work load. For a small business owner the hiring process can be an overwhelming experience. The following is a simple but effective framework for hiring for small businesses.

New Hire Process

Step 1: Articulate the need
Begin by writing an employee job description that is in line with the departmental and organizational goals. The description should reflect what the job duties are, as well as the performance expectations. Be clear about the skills and experience needed to succeed in the position.

You should prioritize the qualities you are looking for in the ideal candidate. Some roles may require less experience and more professional characteristics like creativity or communication skills.

The more information you include in the job description the more likely you are to weed out candidates not suited for the position.

Step 2: Place the ad
Place the ad in the mediums most likely to reach qualified candidates for the position. Make sure the ad is informative about the role, skill set needed, the company culture, perks and benefits, and salary range. Attracting qualified candidates will save you time.

There are many ways to find the right person.
- Word of mouth – get the word out and ask around if anyone knows someone with the skill set you’re looking for.
- Social networking – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all good resources to help find job candidates.
- Craigslist – use advertising websites.
- Online recruitment sites such as Monster, Career-builder, Jobs.com, etc.
- Old fashioned newspaper ads – this is a dated way to find job candidates but there is a certain demographic that still goes to the newspaper to look for jobs.

Step 3: Identify the right candidate
The hiring process needs to be approached as a symbolic microcosm of what to expect from the candidate as an employee.

Once you have all the applicants, review the applications and look for the obvious:
- How is the information presented – is it professional looking, are there typos, how is the information organized? Obviously, you would look at this very differently if you are looking for someone to help with facilities as compared to hiring a CPA.
- What is their work history – where has the person worked, what kinds of jobs have they had in what kinds of industries?
- What are their accomplishments in prior positions? Look for quantifiable accomplishments.
- What is the length of employment at other positions – you want to see if there is a pattern with someone moving to new jobs every few years. This is sometimes an indication of employment instability.
- What is their educational background – look for relevant education.

Step 4: First phone call
Compile a list of suitable questions you can ask over the phone to help you quickly identify qualified candidates and eliminate everyone else. Using a consistent set of questions in both this step and your face-to-face interviews will help ensure you’re evaluating candidates equally.

During the call cover the following:
- Ask them to talk about specifics that relate to the non-negotiables of the position.
- What stage of their career are they in.
- Ask what salary they are currently on. This is such a deal breaker it is good to handle early.
- Clarify the hours. Discuss where they live and the distance needed to travel to work. Do they have a car, etc.
- Answer any of their questions
- Ask what their availability is like in terms of when they could start work.

Step 5: The Interview
Interviewing is a tricky thing and is a skill that can be developed. This is a list of some questions that can be asked to learn more about the candidate and how they respond to the work environment.

- What are your strengths and weaknesses? How will they help or not in the position?
- How would a colleague or friend describe you?
- Give me an example of a time your were able to problem solve with little guidance or help from colleagues.
- What ideas have you offered to improve things at a prior position?
- How would your prior boss describe you? Discuss their last employee review.
- How would you deal with a difficult customer.
- Tell me what you enjoy about your current (or last) position.
- Tell me what you like the least about your current (or last) position.
- What are your long term goals?

Using a combination of behavioral, problem-solving, interpersonal, and competency based questions will help you learn more about the candidate.

Consider taking the candidate off campus for lunch or drinks once the formal questioning is done, perhaps inviting some of your co-workers as well. This can be a great way to see how they transition from formal office settings to social situations.

Step 6: Decision Making
After the interview, follow up with any fact-checking or background items you noted during the interview. Watch for the candidates’ follow-up. They should send a note thanking you for the opportunity and offering to provide any additional information you might need.

Finally, choose the candidate most suitable for the position.

Step 7: Offer the job
Reach out to the candidate to answer any questions and offer the position. If they accept, negotiate a start date.

If you want your business to attract and retain good clients, your comprehensive people strategy must include a recruiting and selection strategy that attracts and retains quality employees. Following a well-thought-out, structured process will help you best match the right people to the right jobs in your company.

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