Hiring Your First Employee: A Success Blueprint for Small Business Owners
Hiring your first employee at your small business can be an intimidating prospect. This employee could be responsible for a significant part of your business, and choosing the wrong employee can have consequences. So how can you maximize your chances of finding the best candidate to hire as your first employee who’s also a great fit for your business?
Three important aspects of the hiring process can have a considerable impact on the quality of applicants that your business attracts.
Before beginning to prospect for potential employees, it is important to put ample time into developing an effective job description, in which you paint a clear picture of the qualifications of the position.
Important considerations include:
- Is the position full-time or part-time?
- Are technical skills, transferable qualities, or both more important for this role?
- What key qualifications would you like to see on an ideal candidate's resume?
When hiring your first employee, you can find candidates via several different channels. Well known online job boards, such as Monster or Indeed, can expose your job listing to a much wider audience of candidates. However, these channels usually come with a cost and may send an overload of applications, all of which require vetting.
Sourcing candidates through local channels, such as library bulletin boards or association newsletters, can often be free of charge, but these options often do not garner as much exposure.
Some employers may want to consider specialty job boards as an alternative solution to sourcing quality candidates. Sites like Dice (specializing in information technology jobs) or Poached (specializing in culinary jobs) can match candidates with a niche skill set to employers with job openings that require those skills. These channels can often provide wider exposure and higher quality candidates than local sources without the expense of the more widely recognized posting services.
The Interview Process
Once you have sourced a pool of candidates, it is important to interview the candidates to make the best decision for hiring your first employee. While you can never truly know how well someone will match your expectations, a well-planned interview process can reveal a great deal about your potential employees. This process can include involve several steps, each of which is designed to assess a particular quality.
Too often, small business owners base the initial hiring decision on a single interview. While you may hope to find your perfect candidate and get them working quickly, rushing this process can result in a poor match for your company, a candidate who doesn't fully understand the demands of the job, or lost time and wages in having to replace an under-qualified worker.
When developing your interview process, carefully consider the following steps:
- An initial submission – This could be a simple cover letter or a list of answers to several specified questions. This requirement will help weed out candidates who are looking to submit the same resume to as many open positions as possible, and will help identify those that are willing to work a bit for the right job.
- A comprehensive interview – This interview should include a mixture of questions designed to assess the candidate's skills, as well as gauge a potential fit within the company's culture.
- A follow-up task – For the most qualified candidates, consider asking them to complete a follow-up task that is consistent with the requirements of the job before you make your final hiring decisions. You can get creative with this step! This task could be a project or written assessment related to the job tasks, a meet-and-greet with your current customers, or a job-shadowing experience. An interactive task may give you a well-rounded picture of each candidate's abilities or provide additional insight on which to base your selection.
While this may seem like a considerable amount of effort to invest in hiring your first or any employee, your investment may pay off in a sound hiring decision and a solid process for selecting any future employees. Consider this to be a crucial next step in moving your small business forward.