With all entrepreneurs there comes a point when you realise that you have to employ someone; you just can't keep on going on your own. Sometimes the tipping point will be an increase in orders you can't fulfil on your own or a planned expansion without which your enterprise will not survive. If you own a small business with a few staff, you've already crossed the hiring hurdle but you may now need to grow the business and take on new people - perhaps for the first time in a number of years.
Either way, hiring staff can strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest and most confident business owner. I know that every time I've ever taken on a new member of staff I've felt a weight of responsibility. When you hire someone you're not only doing it to build your business, you're also going to be providing for the new member of staff and for their family. Hiring someone is not a decision to be taken lightly, which is all the more reason to make sure you choose exactly the right person for the job.
What do you want?
Small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to hire make most of their mistakes before they've even written the job advertisement. It's incredibly easy to say: 'well, I want someone like Janet' or 'I just need someone to look after deliveries'. This kind of vagueness is only going to end in tears. It's vital that you think very carefully and identify exactly what you want the new person you are hiring to do. No detail is too small. Make sure you make a full list of duties and be honest with yourself: how will you measure whether that person is doing a great job? What does success look like? Ensure you have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for that role before you write a job ad.
In the interview
Always be honest in the interview and always give a realistic picture of what you expect from the successful candidate. If a person doesn't feel they can handle the role it is far better to find that out at the interview stage. The worst thing you can do is 'sell' your business to a candidate. It's quite easy for an inexperienced business owner to become slightly desperate; compromising on what they really want and changing the job role as they go along in the interview. Ensure you cover all the questions related to what you really need from a person and make sure you're not getting sidetracked just because the candidate made a good first impression.
What do they want?
Interviews can be stressful for you as well as the candidate so make sure you don't rush. If you start rushing you may forget to find out about the person - not just the candidate! Don't just ask them about what's on their CV - ask them questions unrelated to the role. You need to find someone who can add value to the business and to do this you need to ask them not only what they can bring to the company but what they want from the company and from the job. What do they expect; what are their aspirations. You need to be sure this person is not just right for the job but also right for the environment and culture.
What if I can't find the right candidate?
New business owners are often surprised at how hard it is to find exactly the right candidate. Not everyone you interview will be able to do the job and sometimes you may think that none of the candidates are quite right, even after they've received the correct training. The first thing to do if this happens is make sure you've not got unrealistic expectations. Is your job specification too complicated? Do the salary and benefits match the responsibility and workload? If you're convinced they do, then think laterally. Do you actually know someone already that would be perfect for the job? Often employers forget that they are surrounded by people who might just be looking to move jobs. If you do know someone, ask them if they want the job! You just never know, your perfect employee might be right under your nose!