Hiring people to work for your business is a very important and key element to making a business run smoothly. Sometimes things can be overlooked when you are interviewing someone and if you’re not prepared, they may slip in and be completely wrong for the job putting you right back at square one. The best way you can learn to hire your own future employees is taking advice from those that have been there, done that. Check out these tips and advice from current business owners who have hired people for their companies. Have a tip to share? Would love to hear it!

A Job Exercise

“When possible, I have candidates do a job exercise that essentially gives them a true taste of what the job is, and provides you insight both into their current understanding of the job and/or how truly interested they are in it. I’ve seen results where candidates simply don’t do the test, do it super-rushed or half-heartedly, or unfortunately just aren’t naturally good at it… all of which allows me to focus on the candidates that are stronger.”

Tip provided by: Sara Sutton Fell of Flexjobs.com 

Have A Dinner Meeting

“Would you be able to have a dinner meeting with them? Sounds funny, but working with them around the clock in the office and getting along is great, but dinner meetings is when you truly get to see how people are in a more comfortable atmosphere. Their guards are slightly lowered. Look for things like: if they order alcohol beverages, and if so how many; how polite are they around the table; lastly, if personal interaction comes about… are you relatable? It’s a different approach but it has worked for me when selecting hosts for The Businews Channel, and believe it or not, interns for the Creative Strategy Agency.”

Tip provided by: Alfonso Santaniello of the Creative Strategy Agency

Everything Speaks

“Personally, I learned the most about candidates outside of the formal hiring process. In most positions technical skills can be fine-tuned, but their intrinsic personality traits cannot. Most candidates have practiced responses to interview questions, are exceptionally polite to the interviewer and speak highly about the organization they wish to work for. In my mind the less formal details are more telling. Using the old adage “everything speaks”, here are a few things I look at:

  • How do they treat the Receptionist when they arrive?
  • Do they interact with others in the waiting area?
  • Do they hold open the door for others when leaving the office at the same time as someone else?
  • How do they talk about their old employer?
  • Is it respectful or derogatory?”

Tip provided by: Debby Carreau of Inspired Group of Companies

Attribute Tests

“Thoroughly screen each candidate by making sure they take attribute tests so you can make sure that their actual skills match up to what’s listed on their resumes. A few years ago we hired a candidate who looked great on paper and interviewed well. With her engaging personality, she charmed our interview staff and seemed to embody all the characteristics of our ideal candidate. When she started however, we realized that her proficiency level in the major programs that she would be working in (Publisher and Illustrator) were not at the levels that she had described to us, and her spelling and grammar were not to the level we expected either. As nice as she was, she turned out to be a bad fit for the position, and we had to terminate her employment with us. We learned a good lesson and now on our first interviews, all candidates take a basic skill test that includes keyboarding, spelling, grammar and basic math. For more skilled positions, candidates must complete a short project in the programs that they will be working with. It’s absolutely improved our success ratio when hiring.”

Tip provided by: Rob Basso of Advantage Payroll Services

Make Sure They WANT The Job

“Make sure your candidate really WANTS the job before you make an offer. I once hired someone who seemed like a perfect fit, but she said her dream was to eventually be a PR rep in high tech. I thought she might change her mind once she worked for us, but she left 6 months later to pursue her actual dream job and I was back to square one. I should have hired someone who was thrilled to be in the food industry.”

Tip provided by: Bibby Gignilliat of Parties That Cook

Make Time To Talk To Them

“Have times for open interviews and talk to people. Hiring is a contact sport. You can’t hire great people by combing through resumes all day. Resumes can be manipulated to look great because they are basically a commercial for the person.”

Tip provided by: Michael D. Hayes of Momentum Specialized Staffing

Define What You’re Looking For

1. Take your time. Always ask, “Is this person good enough?” If you have to stop and think about this, move on.
2. Define what you are looking for before you start your search. I’ve seen too many companies waste countless hours, which translates into days searching for candidates and never finding the right one because they had no idea what they were looking for.
3. Always check references. Just because a candidate can accurately describe a college campus, that doesn’t mean he graduated from that school. Check degrees and check references before making an offer.

Tip provided by: Roberta Matuson of Human Resource Solutions 

 The Competition

“Ask yourself: how would I feel about this person working for my competition?”

Tip provided by: Shane Fischer of Fischer Law

Broaden Your Horizons

“A lot of business owners are really narrow minded when it comes to hiring; they want to see a business degree, an internship and an easily digestible resume. While all of these are great, they can severely hamper the type of thinking you are bringing into your business. I recently hired a young woman who was originally interviewing for a customer service job but had included her personal blog with her resumé. She showed she had passion for a particular subject, in her case social media, and was actively pursuing it despite working in other positions. While she would have made a fine Customer Service representative, that drive led me instead to put her in charge of our fledgling social media department; a position she has thrived in. We actually ended up hiring an intern to work under her who has his BA in History but showed such skill in research and writing thanks to that degree’s training that, even though he wasn’t trained in business, he still writes very well informed articles on business news, trends and advice.”

Tip provided by: Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation.com

Never Judge A Book By It’s Resume

“My number 1 tip would be to never judge a book by its resume. You can have an exemplary candidate on paper – someone you’re really excited to interview and hopefully bring on board – and then meeting that candidate in person is a total let-down. When I first started in Human Resources, we were hiring for our Sales Director and I was really excited to interview a specific candidate. They had a great resume and cover letter, had the qualifications we were looking for and even had experience in our industry – in other words, they sounded perfect for the job! But alas, when the candidate came in for the interview, they were not at all like what their resume depicted and, as the interview went on, it was clear that someone else had very likely “helped” them write and create their resume. It was really disappointing, but at the same time, was a wonderful learning experience that has helped me shape how I view resumes. On the other hand, I have brought in candidates that have what I would consider an “okay” resume who turn out to be an excellent candidate. So it does go both ways.”

Tip provided by: Jessica Campbell of Voices.com 

Dedicate Time To The Process

“In our opinion, the most important aspect an employer should do when hiring employees is to dedicate their time to the process. This means they should conduct multiple interviews, do their due diligence and conduct background checks and ask questions that are a match to the job duties for the business to help find the right person.”

Tip provided by: Eugena Bellamy of Staffscapes.com

Provide A Thorough Orientation And Training Process

“I can tell you the biggest mistake made. It’s the fact that business–especially small biz–often doesn’t offer a thorough orientation and start to the training process. Without a strong welcome/orientation and start to the training process, the new employee is thrown into an environment which he/she is unaccustomed to and when the training process starts poorly, you’ve sown the seeds for longtime poor performance and lack of employee commitment. Invest the time in a new employee to conduct a proper orientation and start his/her training correctly. Make the employee feel he or she is a truly valued contributor, and help the employee to increase the value of your company.”

Tip provided by: Alan Guinn of The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc.

Don’t Cut-Corners When Hiring

“Always double check new-hires, especially the people you are most excited about hiring. Sometimes, as hiring managers, we really connect with somebody and tend to see them as we want them to be versus how they are. Case-in-point: we had interviewed a receptionist that we couldn’t wait to hire. She said all the right things and projected all the right experience. Months into the job, however, things started disappearing from around the office, and from purses. Turns out she was a clepto-maniac. We should have worked harder with her references. But a simple glimpse at her public facebook profile would have tipped us off that she wasn’t all she said she was.”

LESSON: don’t cut-corners in the hiring process and always check social
media.

Tip provided by: Mike Monroe of theinvisibleboss.com

Employees Should Be Tested

“We hire a lot of people and the best tip is that all employees should be tested. If hiring for a position that involves a computer administer a computer proficiency test. If hiring for a position that requires basic math skills test for those. We recently hired a person who claimed to be excellent at using various computer systems but went hired barely knew how to type. We implemented a new policy right away.”

Tip provided by: Lenny Kharitonov of Unlimited Furniture Group, Inc. 

Use the 80/20 Rule

“Use the 80/20 rule when it comes to interviewing. You should be  talking or asking questions only about 20 percent of the time. Spend the other 80 percent listening so you can actually learn something about the candidate. Toward the end of the interview, if you like what  you see in this potential employee, encourage the candidate to interview YOU. What questions does this person have about you, your style or what you’re hoping to achieve through your business? Questions  about the potential for advancement or the direction of the company show an interest in the long term. Asking how often they’ll be paid could be a sign they’re just looking for one or two quick checks.”

Tip provided by: Dr. Ken Gibson of LearningRX.com 

Skills Can Be Taught, Personality Can’t

“A great business runs on culture, and culture runs on the chemistry and personality of people. So without exception I hire for personality and “fit” first, skills second. Obviously a candidate must have the necessary
practical qualifications for the job (a designer must be able to design, an accountant must be able to. well.. account, etc.). But given two similarly qualified people I will always, always hire the one with the best personality and who seems to be the most likely to fit with our culture. Skills can be taught and developed, personality can’t. And I have found -again almost without exception – that the majority of bad hires we-ve made (which fortunately have been few) were more often bad hires because of personality and culture fit.”

Tip provided by: Michael Hess of SkoobaDesign.com

See How They Act With Everyday People

“Take your best candidates out, one at a time, into a public, non-office environment, service-oriented space to see how they interact with everyday people. Notice how they treat those who take the order. What happens if someone makes a mistake or does something irritating around them? How do they conduct themselves when opening doors for others? Level of politeness, etc. All of these social cues can be great indicators of the character of the person you will be hiring.”

Tip provided by: Derek Gillette of Derek Gillette Consulting

Check Their Social Media

“I think the best practice I’ve stumbled upon for hiring a new employee would be to vet them thoroughly using social media. Find all their links, from Twitter to LinkedIn and especially Faceboook and *gasp* MySpace if they have one (that alone is a red flag) Taking the time to see how they interact with others online is a good measurement for how they will interact with with their co-workers. It can also provide insight into their character or personal habits. I.e. do they talk about calling in sick online? Yes, that still happens.”

Tip provided by: JP Jones of Paige1Media & Collipsis Web Solutions

Hire The Person, Not The Resume

1. Trust your intuition/gut/instinct. If the person looks great on paper but the chemistry isn’t right or you have a nagging feeling, don’t hire them. It won’t turn out right.

2. Hire the person, not the resume. We often hire people who don’t have direct experience but are the right kind of people–smart, self-aware, hard working, proactive and have the right personality type (e.g., project manager = linear, organized, usually reserved. / marketing = creative, associative, usually very social). We believe that you can train someone to do any job as long as they are the right KIND of person to begin with.

Tip provided by: Elizabeth Amorose of Thinkso Creative LLC

Orientation Plan

“Have an orientation plan: introduce new employee to specific people (colleagues and department heads), give them material to read about the company, their new projects, the policy manual, and the benefit plans. It is always amazing to me when managers don’t give a moment’s thought to the day of arrival of a new employee.”

Tip provided by: Bettina Seidman of SEIDBET Associates 

Verify The Information

“Our best advice for business owners is to make sure you try to know everything you can about your potential employee before you hire. This can be done by conducting a thorough interview that will not only get you answers to all of your questions that you may have, but is also a good opportunity to clarify anything on the resume. Once the interview is over, you must now “fact check”. Verify all information on the resume, as well as anything that may have popped up in the actual interview. A good background check should be conducted on all employees. Unfortunately, given this economy, some applicants will say and do anything to get a job. Statistics show that 30% of business failures are attributed to employee theft, which can completely shut down a small business.”

Tip provided by: Marc Bourne of Know It All Intelligence Group

Hire The Passion

“My best tip is for companies to make sure all their interviewers are effectively trained. It makes a difference! Hire the attitude (and passion) to do the job and if necessary, teach the skill. Why? Because skill is the only one of the three components common to all high achievers that can be changed or added AFTER the hire!!!”

Tip provided by: Carol Quinn of HireAuthority.com

What Characteristics Are You Looking For

“First you must figure out the characteristics that are truly needed to be successful on the job, with the team, and in the organization. Sometimes those qualities are not what you think. Another tip is when they first start – have an orientation and on boarding plan. It has been shown that the satisfaction with and longevity on the job directly relates to someone’s first 2 weeks on the job.”

Tip submitted by: Michelle Tillis Leaderman of Executive Essentials 

Meet Their Spouse

“If at all possible, meet their spouse. Tells you more about them then all of the interview questions combined.”

Tip provided by: Grant DiCianni of Tapestry Productions Inc.

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Feel free to leave your tip below on hiring employees or even a recent story you want to share about the subject. Also, check out answers on this topic from our friends at the YEC on SmallBizTrends  

photo credit: Ahmad Alhomaid
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