After investing so much to start and run a company, the thought of investing in a new employee can be daunting. But small business owners have a unique opportunity to recruit stellar workers. Here’s Part Two (click here for part 1) of our How-To…
Now that writing the right kind of job description and figuring out where to post it are behind you, the really fun part of recruitment starts.
How to Apply
A basic application helps you gather important relevant information, but beyond an address and the quality of handwriting, it’s really not enough to give you a good idea of who the candidate really is. A resume goes a step further, a cover letter even more so. What they choose to say about themselves can be quite interesting. Just make sure that the application method suits the style of your business. A small Sub Shop owner I know would give applicants a blank sheet of butcher paper. He figured that if they could work out what information was most relevant and do it in a creative way, they were probably a good fit for his rather “laissez-faire” management style.
Make the Most of the Interview
There’s so much out there about how to effectively interview someone, but it really boils down to this: An interview is a first date. What’s your goal on a first date? To figure out if you want really want a second date!
You have to use conversation between you and your potential new employee to find out all you can about who they are and how they will work for you. What exactly do you get out of a standard question like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Does it give you any real insight? Not really. So ask them what you really want to know. Are you looking to fill a customer service type of position? Ask them if they like people. Do you need someone who will work with little supervision? Ask them what motivates them. If their answer is feedback from the boss, they may not be a good fit.
It doesn’t make sense for an interview to be one-sided: You may think it’s all about what the candidate will do for your business. But trust us; it’s not all about you. The people you hire bring their own needs to the table, too. Take time to understand what those needs are before you hire. What do they look for in a workplace? Do they enjoy stability or prefer spontaneity? Seek those who are likely to support your company culture—and fit within it.
What you get out of an interview is totally up to you. The only parameters, of course, are to stay within the law. Do yourself a favor and totally avoid questions regarding marital status, age, children, race, or nationality.
The recruitment process can be a long one, so save a little energy at the end to follow through with applicants. Respond with an email to applicants who didn’t get an interview. Give a courtesy call to people you’ve interviewed who didn’t get the job. Let your new employee know quickly that they’re hired. A little good will goes a long way—especially for a small business. Good luck!