How to Hire Smarter

If you’re going through growing pains in your business, it may be time to hire your first employees. If you’ve been running your business on your own, it may be hard to imagine bringing others on to help you, and you may not have a clue about how to hire great employees that will grow with your company. Never fear: here’s your guide to better hiring.


1. Decide on What You’re Looking For

You know you need help, but what specific  tasks are you hiring for? Start by listing out each item you need to assign to your new hire, as well as the skills and experience you want. This will help you build out your job description. If you have someone in the position currently, talk to her about her daily duties and any others she thinks should be added on for the new employee.

2. Read Other Job Descriptions

Sometimes you can’t articulate exactly what you’re looking for in a job candidate. Take a cue from other companies. Go to online job boards and search for the job you’re hiring for to get ideas for your own job description.

3. Get Input

If you already have employees, get them to weigh in on the job you’re hiring for. If it’s just you, ask your spouse for insight. Often just discussing it with others can help you clarify your needs.

5. Look in Multiple Places

Posting your job on job boards is a bit of a cattle call. You’ll get all types of applicants — skilled and otherwise. Look to other channels instead: post your listing on your social media channels. Put it on your website. Share it with trusted colleagues and contacts. Look for a candidate when networking. Work with a recruiter.

6. Prepare Your Interview Questions

Before inviting promising candidates in for an interview, get your interview questions ready. Think about what questions really will help you determine a candidate’s fit for the position, and skip all the fluffy questions that tell you nothing, like “are you a team player?” Get others’ feedback, especially those who will be working with the person in this role.

7. Focus in the Interview

It’s a good idea to bring in other employees in the department for the interview, if you’ve got them. Also keep in mind that if you work with a recruiter, she can handle the interview process for you. She’s likely better-versed at asking the right questions, and having that task off your plate can be a relief. If you are doing the interviewing, don’t just pay attention to an interviewee’s responses. Watch his body language and ability to deliver quick, professional answers. Get a “sense” of who the person is, and whether you’d enjoy having him on your team.

8. Take Notes

Write out your observations on responses and body language in each interview so you can compare notes after all interviews are complete. This will give you a better comparison of each candidate. You might create a rubric that lets you score out certain qualities that are most important.

9. Master Negotiation

Once you’ve zeroed in on the ideal candidate, be prepared to negotiate. Start at the lower range of the salary you have in mind, then expect a counter. Find a compromise between what you want to pay and what the candidate is asking, so that everyone feels like they’ve won.

10. Don’t Forget the Training!

While the hard part of hiring is over, you’re not done yet. Make sure to fully train your new hire to ensure that he feels capable of doing the new job well. If you don’t already have them in place, create processes and procedures for training new hires and include specifics for this particular job. The better trained a new employee is, the more likely he is to stay with you for years.


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