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How to Hire Employees in a Small Business Environment

How to Hire Employees in a Small Business Environment

A successful business is dependent on having competent and self-motivated employees.  However, many managers and small business owners are left wondering how to hire good employees.  Before posting on job boards, take the time to get organized and clearly define the position.   A little preparation will make the hiring process faster, less stressful and more efficient.   After you have clearly identified the exact skills needed for the job, it is time to move on to the next step.

To increase the chances that you will find a candidate that is responsible and matched for the job, ask for referrals.  Try asking anyone from current employees, suppliers, business partners, or someone in your professional network if they know someone who would be a good fit for the job.  Chances are you will get a great recommendation.

The Interview Process

Once you have compiled a list of resumes, begin the interviewing process in two rounds.  Stay focused on what you need; don’t worry about being liked and look for personality traits that are compatible with you and your business.

Round 1: The purpose of this round is to identify a handful of candidates that are qualified for the job.

  • Schedule the first interviews as close to each other as possible.
  • Give each candidate the same amount of time – 30-45 minutes.
  • Ask every candidate the same questions so you can compare candidate answers.  Working from your job outline, ask questions to determine if they will be successful at each job responsibility.
  • Make sure they answer each question so you can write down all the answers in a table for comparison.
  • Ask questions that will tell you how they have handled the tough stuff: disagreeing with the boss’s decision; a difficult co-worker or one who doesn’t pull their weight; a disgruntled customer.  Keep asking until they give specific answers and provide a successful resolution of the problem.
  • Let them know a timeline of when they can expect to hear from you again.

Screening and Identifying Candidates

Round 2: The purpose of this round is to determine who is a good fit for the company; both personality traits and skills should be considered.  Before starting this round, determine what a candidate MUST demonstrate to get the position.

  • Select 2-3 candidates to come back a second time and let them know the purpose of round 2.
  • When you set up the interview, talk with the candidate on the phone.  Pay attention to little things like how they answer their personal phone, what their voicemail sounds like, and their response.
  • Have employees take a behavior and natural skill assessment such as DISC or Kolbe.  This helps you avoid hiring someone just because you like them as well as letting a candidate’s strengths morph the position.
  • Confront any troubling concerns and determine if they are valid.  It’s better to ask now than to regret the hire later.
  • Decide and then sleep on your decision.  If it still feels right the next day, make an offer.  Let them know you’re excited.

Learning how to hire an employee can be a stressful process.  However the process of identifying needs and following a plan will help to ensure you hire someone that is a good fit for your business.  Just remember, there are terrific people out there, but hiring well takes patience.  Skills can be taught and learned, but attitude cannot.  So when looking for a candidate, be patient and persistent in your search until you find the candidate that will help your business succeed.

Take your business to the next level with a business coach

When you need to improve your fitness level, you hire a trainer.When you need to take your tennis or golf game to the next level, you enlist help from a coach.When you want to take your business to the next level, hire a business coach!

The decision to use a business coach can drastically change the future of your business.A coach will be able to see your business in an unbiased light and can help you identify your true strengths, weakness, fears, and operational gaps.Similar to a trainer, a business coach can turn a healthy business into a triathlon athlete.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level by hiring a business coach but are unsure of the next steps to take, here are a few points to consider when selecting a coach.

  • Consider their knowledge level and their resume
  • Ask if they have ever successfully run a business
  • Make sure you communicate well with the coach and feel open talking to them
  • Evaluate their training and experience
  • Consider how much of a time commitment you want from your coach (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Be patient and wait until you find someone who you think you will work well with

The process of selecting and hiring a business coach requires a little bit of a time investment; however it is an investment that will benefit your business for years to come.If you are ready to take the next step and would like to schedule a business consultation with Helen, contact her at 603-529-2345.


Small business lesson from a water taxi driver; Passion for Customer Service

Puerto_RicoI just returned from a fabulous vacation to Culebra, a small island off of Puerto Rico. Like many small Caribbean islands, it relies on tourism and fishing to sustain itself, and in general, is fairly poor. But Culebra stood out to me, although I couldn’t quite figure it out at first. In my usual style, I was determined to figure it out. Our water taxi driver, Guillian, gave me the key.

Guillian took us to Culebrita, an island fully protected as a National Wildlife Preserve to snorkeling, walk to an old lighthouse, and visit the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. Guillian told us he used to be a police officer and worked for US Fish and Game. When I asked him what he did for Fish and Game, he told me that when the US Navy used the island, “they did not care about it.” As a Fish and Game officer, he helped write regulations to protect the island and its resources, “because we care about it. It is important to us.” As Guillian talked about his island, he almost had tears in his eyes; his love of the island was right there and that’s when it hit me: what makes Culebra special is it’s peoples’ love for the island. The population is poor and for many, living standards are low – no windows, barely a roof over their heads. Yet evidence of their care for wildlife and nature was everywhere. They understand what their most valuable asset is and they protect and care for it.

Guillian got me to thinking: what resources does my business have that I am willing to protect, that I must protect, to insure it’s well-being and long life? If you are a solo-preneur service business like me, your most valuable asset is you – your well-being, your knowledge, your passion. Once a business adds staff, it needs to protect its customer service delivery to insure it is consistent and top-notch every time, regardless of who provides the service. To protect your most valuable assets, think like Guillian: what is so important to your business’s health that you would build a fortress around it, write regulations, and designate them as a preserve? Protect it like your livelihood depends on it.

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.