Both large and small businesses share a need for quality team members. Large businesses typically have strong HR departments to help them navigate the hiring process. Small businesses, however, often do not have the luxury of a separate HR department.

For that reason, many small business owners find themselves wearing the HR hat and trying to navigate the difficult task of finding and hiring the right team members. It seems easy enough; place a job ad, find the candidate with the most impressive resume, and make an offer.

But not so fast. A CareerBuilder survey found that the average company loses about $14,900 on every bad hire. Moreover, it’s a common mistake — almost three in four employers (74 percent) have made a bad hiring decision in the past.

Moreover, hiring the wrong person can mean more babysitting and hand holding, having to re-do tasks that were not done correctly, which can negatively impact your bottom line.

Why is hiring the right candidates so difficult? 

There are a few reasons:

  • The hiring manager has not given enough thought to exactly what they are looking for or needing from this role.
  • The job description includes only skills needed or tasks to be accomplished. It does not include the goals and outcomes for the role.
  • The interviews are short and do not give you an accurate representation of the candidate.

Hiring the right candidate with the right skills for the right job can dramatically impact your company’s productivity, outcomes and goals. Your team members are your greatest asset. They can help you succeed or they can hold you back.

So how do you hire the right person for the right job?

It starts with a thorough and accurate job description.

First, it’s important to define the overall goals of the role.

What is the main result you desire of this candidate? Include not only the most important tasks of the job, but also the outcomes you’ll expect. Is it an increase in sales; building a community of followers and clients; higher retention rates or improved customer service?

Your job description should also focus on what’s in it for them. Let them know:

  • Why is your company great to work for?
  • What are your company goals or mission?
  • What do you value? Is it independence, collaboration, synergy, fun, leadership, teamwork, hard work?

Let them decide if they think they would be a good fit for you!

The Right Questions to Ask 

After you’ve attracted some candidates, it’s time to start interviewing to see who’s most impressive in person. First, what do you value most in a candidate for this position? Are you looking for integrity, efficiency, intelligence? Do you need a proactive team player who’s organized and detailed? How does the candidate handle correction or setbacks?

Once you’ve defined your search, you can more clearly ask the right questions. What are some questions that would help you spot those who have those needed skills or qualities?

In the book Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street, the authors outline a thorough process for hiring top-tier players. The process may be overkill for some smaller remote roles, but the basics of the process provide a solid foundation for selecting the right candidate.

The interview questions Smart and Street recommend are easy and conversational. They recommend an initial phone interview asking the following questions:

  1. What are your career goals?
  2. What are you really good at professionally?
  3. What are you not good at or interested in doing professionally?
  4. Who were your last five bosses, and how would they each rate your performance on a 1–10 scale when we talk to them?

Each of those questions should be followed up with “tell me more”, “how” and/or “what” to dig deeper and gain more insight about the candidate and their performance, work ethic and skill level.

Once you’ve discovered who passed your first interview, Smart & Street recommend the “Who Interview” which “is designed to give you more confidence in your selection because it uncovers the patterns of somebody’s career history and is a chronological walkthrough of a person’s career.” They recommend walking through their past 5 jobs and asking:

  1. What were you hired to do? How was your success measured in that role?
  2. What accomplishments are you most proud of? Be listening for correlations relating to the expectations of your job.
  3. What were some low points during that job? Or what part of the job did you not like? In what way were peers stronger than you?
  4. Who were the people you worked with? Ask specifically for the boss’ name. Ask what that person will say were their biggest strengths and areas for improvement. That lets them know you will be calling and they are more likely to give you an accurate response.
  5. Why did you leave that job? Dig deeper into their response with more questions to more fully understand.

The Reference Checks

The last step of the selection process is to check their references. This will be an opportunity to see what others think of them. You may want to ask them some of the same questions from above to see how similar their responses are.

Taking the time to get a more full and complete picture of someone’s work history, personality, strengths and weaknesses will help you determine who is the best match for your role. Knowing what you want and what your goals are will help guide you in the interview process. The rest will be determined by the answers you receive!

Lesley Pyle is the founder of HireMyMom.com, a boutique service connecting Small Businesses with Virtual Professionals across the country. She began her work-at-home career in 1996 with the launch of her first website: Home-Based Working Moms. Pyle was named one of “50 Women Entrepreneurs Who Inspire Us” by Self-Made magazine and has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and many others. Follow Lesley on LinkedIn, Twitter  and FB.

Hiring stock photo by rudall30/Shutterstock