Every small business starts out small – maybe only the founder. At some point, business growth overwhelms one person’s ability to “do it all” and they will need to add staff to the organization. This places a great responsibility on the owner or manager of the venture to do an effective job of filling positions with excellent people, and then managing them effectively so they perform to your expectations or more. The value of great employees cannot be over emphasized.
Take the time to develop specific criteria for a new hire, and interview prospective employees with these in mind. Don’t get caught up hiring a new employee only based on personal appearance and personality. Delve into the individual’s experience in the past in work and school to ensure that this is the right person for the job.
Hiring and developing good employees is what will make your company grow and prosper. Here are some policies on how to do it the right way.
“Hire deliberately, not randomly”
From the human resource management perspective, recruiting and hiring people is a system. Here are a few easy steps to having a productive hiring system.
- Write a Job Description. This will clarify what you are really looking for. If this is a struggle, take a step back and look at your organizational chart. Where does this job fit in? What are the duties and responsibilities, and is the position even needed? (For more information on creating an organizational chart and job descriptions, read my post 3 Step Strategy for Planning Your Organizational Structure.)
- Commit to a salary range. It should be competitive with the market. No one wants to overpay, but some employers hope that they can find a superstar for half the going wage. It doesn’t happen very often. If it does, question why.
- Write an attractive advertisement and have a strategy of where to place it – whether on-line job boards, social networking, newspapers, or other sources. A key to getting a good response is to “sell” the company – good candidates are not just looking for more money or benefits – they want to feel that they will be working in a team environment, the company has a vision for the future, and they can be part of the company’s growth.
- Simple “ABC” system of reviewing resumes – here is where many people get slowed down. Staring at a pile of resumes is like going to the dentist for some. But focusing on the key variables you need in the candidate will get you through the pile quickly. Write down in advance the 3 key variables (“ABC”) you are looking for and scan each resume for those variables.
For example, you may want a candidate with a college degree, 5 years of customer service experience, and who has worked with a certain software. Train your eye to look for those variables first instead of reading each resume top to bottom.
Another, more subtle variable that I look for is whether their resume is well organized, logical, and there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. This tells me a great deal about the candidate’s attention to detail.
- Have an employment application form – to standardize information.
- Plan the interview in advance. Many managers “wing it” when it comes to interviewing, and often the result is a pleasant, general discussion, followed by an uninformed, gut reaction as to whether to hire the person or not. Professionals, on the other hand, prepare a series of questions that are designed to get at the candidate’s behavior. This type of interviewing, known as “behavioral interviewing,” is based on the idea that past behavior predicts future behavior. Here are some examples:
- Assertiveness: “Tell me about a time when you were willing to disagree with another person in order to build a positive outcome.”
- Initiative: “Tell me about a situation where you found a way to make your subordinate’s job easier or more productive?”
- Judgment: What are the biggest and toughest decisions you have made in the last year? Tell me how you went about making them?
For each question, have the candidate describe the situation or task, what action (behavior) they took, and the outcome.
Note that these types of questions tend to be “open ended,” meaning that they force an answer other than “yes” or “no.” Look at the difference between asking,
- “Have you made tough decisions …”
(Candidate’s answer: yes or no),
… as compared to:
- “What are the biggest and toughest decisions you have made … (Candidate gives a description of their behavior.)
Be sure to download my free Hiring the Best People with These 123 Interview Questions. Proven in actual interviews, these questions will take your hiring decisions from “gut reaction” to confident selection.
“I guarantee that just preparing a list of behavior-based questions in advance will increase your decision-making confidence by 100%.”
- When interviewing, the biggest decision should not be about skills – it is relatively easy to find out if the person has the technical, sales or administrative skills needed. The hard part is finding what motivates the candidate, what they hope to achieve, why it fits with what you need done. Several trusted people should interview each candidate. Get several points of view. Invite the candidate in for a ½ day to shadow someone in the area they are going to work. Call references. Ask for more references. Take them out to lunch. Get to know them.
- Consider other types of information gathering: these include psychological, integrity, skills and intelligence tests, drug testing, background checks – to find out information such as criminal history and credit record – and reference checks.
“A hiring system, with trained interviewers, is far more effective than the typical unfocused interview.”