Whether you’re hiring your first employee or 30th, the process can be fraught with pressure. Get it right, and you’ve brought what amounts to a new family member into the fold. Get it wrong, and you’re likely looking at lost time, profit and lots of frustration. However, learning some best practices on how to hire employees can stack the odds of finding the right fit in your favor.
While you won’t get a solid feel for someone before meeting in person, an initial phone interview to talk more about the job and allow them to discuss what is appealing or raise questions can go a long way.
DON’T SKIMP ON THE JOB DESCRIPTION
Penning the perfect job description isn’t as easy as it might seem. Hitting the high-level tasks are obviously important, but don’t forget to include the more mundane, general tasks that you expect the hire to do. This is especially true if you’re company is small and operates with an everybody-chips-in mentality; you don’t want your hire to be stunned to learn in the second week that they have to book their own travel.
The expected tasks are crucial, but so is enumerating the types of skills you’d like candidates to have in their background. As job titles shift and become less traditional over time, it’s increasingly important to be sure you’re vetting candidates early on in regard to what they’re bringing to the table. The job description is the place to start the process.
HIT THE PHONE, THEN DO YOUR HOMEWORK
While you won’t get a solid feel for someone before meeting in person, an initial phone interview to talk more about the job and allow them to discuss what is appealing or raise questions can go a long way. If it doesn’t go smoothly, neither person has lost much time. If it goes well, now you have an opportunity to do some extra homework before setting an in-person meeting. Look for any past work they’ve done, and check their social media presence. Even in a person’s off time, they’ll be an ambassador for your company, so you’ll want to know how they carry themselves.
GET THE AWKWARD PARTS OUT OF THE WAY
By the time you’re bringing in potential hires, you’ve definitely got a salary in mind, and so do they. Don’t wait until the second interview or worse, the final offer, to put the package on the table. If at the first in-person meeting you’re getting the vibe that this candidate might be right, ask what their salary expectations are, and be forthright about what you can offer in return. While saving some from the bottom line is appealing, don’t lose sight of the fact that quality employees cost money. If you can’t offer what they’re hoping, consider sweetening the deal with other perks: Some extra vacation time or personal days, or even equity can make up the difference for the right person.
MAKE THE FINAL CALL WHILE ON THE MOVE
The entire hiring process shouldn’t take place from behind a desk, in the sitting position. The atmosphere doesn’t bring out the best — or worst — in anyone. To see how your potential employee navigates real situations, it’s important to see them interact in the real world. Walk them through the office, and see how they greet people they’re introduced to, and how they express curiosity about how the operation works. If possible, consider meeting offsite for coffee or a meal. Do they arrive early or at least on time? Are they polite to everyone serving them? How do they really handle conversation — distractedly, or can they keep it moving?
BE HONEST ABOUT FAULTS
No company is perfect and neither is every employee. But if you’re honest about talking about the ways you and your company can improve, it opens the door for your potential hire to do the same. The more you both know about each other, the better.