Ideally, hiring employees should allow you to focus your time and talent on the areas of your business that require your attention.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Small business owners often find themselves spending more time (and money) training, solving problems or correcting employee mistakes than when they were operating as a one-woman shop.
The process of hiring employees may sometimes seem like a gamble. But there are some steps you can take to tip the odds in your favor.
Know what you need
Employees will bring the most value to your business when they have clear direction on what their jobs are. You may know you need help, but take some time to think about exactly what kind of help you need. Create a formal job description for the position. It’s okay if it includes the line “Other tasks as assigned by…” Your employee needs to know what your expectations are. If he/she has a list of ongoing responsibilities, it will save you the time and frustration of constantly having to tell him/her what needs done.
Temps Vs. Hiring Employees
If you’re not sure you need a permanent part-time or full-time person, you might consider using a personnel services agency to hire a temporary worker for times when you need some extra help. The benefits of hiring a temp are that the agency has already screened the worker for you and the agency handles the wages and benefits for the employee. You simply pay the agency for the service provided. But don’t assume that “temp” equals cheap. There is a cost for this convenience. If you really do need someone on a more permanent basis, trying to bridge the gap with temps may end up being more expensive than hiring employees on your own.
When you post a job opening, you will likely be inundated with applications. Some will be qualified for the position. Many will not be. Others may be overqualified and be at risk for jumping ship the moment a better offer comes their way. Sifting through a mountain of resumes can be overwhelming, and setting up a parade of interviews is time consuming.
You need to bring only the best people in to be interviewed—preferably the top three applicants with the qualifications that you need to fill the job. To whittle down your options, set some guidelines on the front end of the process to help you decide which candidates will make the cut. Only pull resumes of applicants that meet those standards that you have established.
At this point, your main focus is filling the position, but you should be looking toward the future as well. While interviewing, try to pick up on cues that would indicate what type of employee the applicant would be. Does she seem to be just interested in a job, or does it appear that she is motivated by a challenge? Does the candidate seem to have a particular interest in what your business does?
Ask the right questions and be careful to not ask the wrong ones. Avoid asking applicants illegal or inappropriate questions during the interview.
If your schedule and responsibilities don’t allow for you to take the time you should to hire the best person for the position, you might consider contracting an HR consultant to help. Many solo HR consultants are willing to take on the task of hiring employees, and can even help you onboard and train your new employees.