Most small business owners, even those whose businesses start as a single employee operation, will eventually need to interview potential candidates to help them run their business. And whether the person will be helping with day-to-day operations, manning a machine, or answering phones, finding the right employee can make or break a small business. Training new employees can be an expensive and time-consuming process, and unproductive employees can kill profits. So when hiring employees, it is crucial to find the best candidate for the job. Here are 5 tips when conducting an interview to help you find the right employee.
- Know What You Want – While this may seem obvious, if you are not crystal clear in your mind of what your new employee will do, or what you expect of the new hire, then you cannot possibly find the right candidate. Whether looking for a cashier or a CFO, be sure to outline the position, take stock of expected job functions, and analyze what you want from the employee in terms of experience, personality, and work ethic. Also, be sure your expectations meet the job you are filling and the salary you are paying.
- Be Consistent – If you are interviewing multiple candidates for the position (which you obviously should), be sure to ask them the same set of questions. While there will obviously be different questions and conversations which develop from these questions for each applicant, having a series of present questions to ask each applicant will allow you to learn the same information from each candidate, and get a good feeling for how they are compared to one another. It will also ensure you get all of the information you need during the interview from each of the applicants.
- Be Prepared – Be sure you know about the applicant before the interview begins. Review the resume, try to understand the roles which the applicant has previously had and how they relate to the opening you are filling and look for areas where you have questions. This will allow you to quickly get to the task of evaluating the applicant and his or her relevant skills, rather than starting the interview learning what is on the paper in front of you.
- You’re not Making Friends – It is ok to talk about personal things during an interview to break the ice or if they are in some way related to the job or the needed availability. But beyond that, avoid getting too personal during an interview. You want to hire someone based on their ability to perform a job, not because you either sympathize with their situation or because you like the person. You obviously want to be sure you hire someone you can get along with and who will be a good fit at your company, but beyond that, save getting to know the person until you have made an offer.
- Talk Less – However much you currently talk during an interview, lessen it. The less you talk, the more the candidate will talk. The less you talk, the less the candidate will be able to take cues and clues from you around what you are looking for, as well. You want someone who gives the right answers because that is truly how they feel, not because you inadvertently told them what to say. Be an active listener and talk as little as possible; preferably only to ask questions.
With these tips in mind, finding the right employee for any business should be easier. Remember, always look for the right candidate, even if it takes the time to fill the position. Otherwise, you’ll be right back here again, shortly.