The hiring process is never an easy one, no matter which side of the desk you’re sitting on. That goes double for small businesses, as one bad employee can have a much greater impact on your overall success. A small business owner must carefully weigh interviews, resumes, and sometimes even recommendations to figure out who the best candidate is. There are, however, a few tips that can make this whole process easier.
The Power of Recommendations
One of the most overlooked means of hiring is also one of the easiest: get advice from your existing employees. If there’s someone working for you already whose work you’ve been pleased with, consider asking them if they know a candidate who might be a good fit. While they may simply suggest their friends or family, they’re also likely to think of old coworkers at their previous jobs, whose skills and work ethic they have some familiarity with. This also has the added benefit of showing your current employees that you trust them and appreciate their opinions, which can do a lot to raise morale.
While experience is typically the number one feature employers are looking for in applicants, and for good reason, education is something you shouldn’t overlook. Employees with business degrees will be highly knowledgeable in their chosen area of business, and they’ll be bringing that finely honed ability with them. And although education can’t be a total replacement for first-hand experience, it can provide a lot of the skills that experience can, without the preconceptions built up at prior employers. Their degree also stands as a testament to their dedication to the craft, proving they can set a goal and see it through over the course of years.
Soft Skills Get Things Done
The term “soft skills” gets tossed around a lot in the world of business these days, but the reason is that they’re often critical to success. It can be tough to get an agreed upon list of what exactly soft skills are, but in general they’re a measure of someone’s interpersonal abilities in a variety of circumstances. How well can this person work in a team? Lead a team? Are they capable of behaving professionally, even in stressful environments? And should a situation go off the rails, just how well can they adapt? Recognizing soft skills in applicants isn’t always easy, but questions during the interview process can help you to get a feel for what areas a candidate excels at and which they might struggle with.
Something to consider when hiring for a position is whether or not you actually need this person in your home office at all times. Recruiting locally is inherently limiting your pool of talent to those who live in your city, after all. A social media manager or website content writer could do what you need them to do from the other side of the world just as easily as in the cubicle down the hall. By opening up your position to remote applicants, you’ve suddenly gone from the few hundred people in your city with the appropriate skills to everyone in the country with those skills. You can also set up the position as remote with occasional travel to the home office, if face-to-face contact is really that important, providing you with the best of both worlds.
A job candidate who comes to your office for an interview should be aiming to do their best to dazzle you with their knowledge and abilities, but the reverse is true as well. Job seekers today may be applying to dozens or even hundreds of positions at once, and your business is just one of many possibilities, in the same way that they are for you. If you do manage to find the ideal candidate, it’d be a shame to have them turn down your offer because they weren’t as impressed by your business as you were by them. When interviewing or otherwise inviting candidates to the office, your company should be putting its best foot forward at all times.
In the parlance of the modern age, “ghosting” is when a person suddenly drops all contact without explanation. The term has caught on in the dating world, but it’s just as applicable to business. Often times, when a company goes through its hiring process, the only one who ends up hearing back is the applicant that gets hired. This leaves a lot of other candidates who weren’t chosen in an uncomfortable sort of limbo—they perhaps feel like their interview went well, and may be waiting to hear back, but they never do. While big companies get away with this quite a bit, small businesses should have an aim on expanding, and may need those applicants to come back again the next time they’re hiring. This doesn’t mean you have to send a formal “no thanks” to every resume that crosses your desk, but if you’ve gotten to the stage where you’re performing interviews with a small number of candidates, consider letting those who weren’t selected know that you’ve decided. It’s basic respect, and they’ll likely appreciate not being left hanging. They may maintain a positive attitude towards your business that brings them back next time.
At the end of the day, you’re the one hiring for your business, and you need to feel confident in the decisions you’ve made. If a candidate looks great on paper, and perhaps even does well on the interview, but leaves you with an odd feeling after the meeting, follow your intuition and pass. Your brain can pick up on subtle cues and microexpressions that your conscious mind isn’t fully aware of, and that’s usually the origin of these gut impulses. While it could just be nothing, it might also be a warning that this person is being dishonest, or perhaps even dangerous. As your employee at a small business, this is someone you’ll probably be spending quite a bit of time with, and they may be a public face for your company, so do what makes you most comfortable.
With these tips, your hiring practices can become just a bit easier. If you really find yourself struggling with the recruiting process, consider earning a degree in human resources or finding a hiring manager who already has one. These programs can provide far greater insight into the hiring and management of employees than any article online ever will. Employees are the lifeblood of your business, after all, so getting the hiring process right is key to survival.