Small business owners: It’s time to hire employees or add to your staff, but how?

By Jack Panzer

Whether you are about to open your doors or are looking to add to your staff, hiring the right employees for your new or growing small business is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as an entrepreneur and decision-maker. After all, as a small business owner, you know that every employee plays a huge role in helping you succeed. Here are some helpful tips and advice for business owners who are looking for the perfect candidates that will fill crucial roles on your staff.

Learn about Who You Are Interviewing Beyond the Resume

While a person’s resume provides you with a general background and qualifications, it is always helpful to look beyond the candidate’s resume before conducting the first interview. Asking for a cover letter in addition to the resume is a great way to see how the potential employee will present themselves in a professional manner, and this allows the applicant some breathing room to show you who they are outside or in addition to the positions they’ve held.

Another intuitive way to learn about a person’s credentials before interviewing him or her is to ask for samples of relevant work or pose additional questions during the first stage of the hiring process that you’d like answered in the cover letter or as part of the online application. Asking specifically about a potential employee’s level of experience, salary requirements, career goals or other relevant questions can help you sort through the pile of resumes and save precious time that you might have wasted by interviewing candidates who you know wouldn’t wind up being the right fit for your small business’ needs.

Last, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at a candidate’s public social profiles before scheduling an interview. If a person provides you with a professional website, blog or LinkedIn page, you can take a look to see if you can corroborate the information provided on the resume. The effort you put into preparing for each interview will be worth it as you need to get more than generic information about your candidates during the interviews if you want to land the best people for the job on your payroll.

3 Tips for Preparing a Productive Interview

  1. Offer them a chance to relax and reveal personality: To get a feel for their personalities and how they might fit in to your daily operations, let them let their proverbial hair down, for starters. An easy way to do this is to simply ask them to tell you about themselves. Then, you should actively listen and take note of whether they reveal professional or personal details. Let them offer a glimpse of how they see themselves so you can decide if it’s a proper fit for the company culture you prefer to build.
  1. Put them on the spot to assess their performance under pressure: You may want to know what your candidate is “made of” as the interview progresses. When the time is right, all you have to do is ask, “What is the biggest professional challenge you have faced so far?” You may discover that a project they handled didn’t go as planned, but how they faced adversity and came up with solutions is very valuable. They should be able to state how they would remedy that problem in the future. Also, feel free to provide them with a brief real-life scenario that could happen in their new role and ask them how might handle it. A good candidate will be able to draw on past experiences to provide an answer, or be honest about not knowing an answer but promise to learn your system so they can handle it when the time comes. Both answers are acceptable because in these cases, the person is being honest about what they do or do not know. If trainability is important, the second answer is just as much appreciated as the first one, depending on the nature of the position.
  1. Have a healthy mix of open-ended and fact-finding questions ready: With a nice mix of broad, open-ended questions and ones that are more fact-finding in nature, you will be able to get a nice profile of your candidate, from how they handled particular project challenges to asking what they consider to be their biggest mistake in their professional career. The key is to present questions that will reveal answers that help you find the best specific matches for the positions you have and the culture you are hoping to develop.

Ultimately, with some thoughtful preparation, patience and perhaps advice from mentors, you will be able to find the best candidates to build the hardworking, loyal staff you need to run your new business with great vigor and pride.  You deserve to have employees whose work ethics and abilities match the jobs you need filled, but you also deserve to have the best chance to have people working for you who you genuinely like as well.  After all, this is the beginning (for new small business owners) or continuation (for existing small business owners) of what will hopefully be a long and rewarding entrepreneurial journey.

Jack Panzer is area manager for Minuteman Press International for the Colorado region providing ongoing support to Minuteman Press franchise locations in his area. Learn more about Minuteman Press franchise opportunities at Tweet to Minuteman Press @minutemanintl.