Owners of small businesses need to have an effective interviewing strategy. It's revealing that the nation's smallest for-profit organizations, those that employ fewer than five workers, account for more than 7 million US jobs. There's no doubt that small entities play a large role in the overall economy. That's a pretty big chunk of the working population at any given time. So, why should entrepreneurs focus on constructing interviews and try to systematize the process?
The primary reason is that those you hire can have a profound effect on the long-term profitability of the enterprise. The founder of one of the largest employment agencies, Robert Half, said, "Time spent on hiring is time well spent." It's essential for owners to understand the nuts and bolts of interviews, like resumes, background checks, the overall cost of screening, generating interest in positions, constructing worthwhile sessions, the importance of consistency, and much more. While every business has unique needs, the following suggestions can jump-start any owner's attempt to recruit excellent people.
Understand the Mechanics of Resumes
Before sitting down and having a conversation with a potential hire, you will have seen their resume. Expect the top candidates will have spent about $250 on the document to land an in-person meeting with a decision maker. Try to review the page paragraph by paragraph, paying particular attention to the sections entitled "Experience" and "Education." Younger people might have just a few positions listed, most of which will be part-time or summer jobs they had in high school and during college. But summer work can tell you plenty about a person's character, abilities, and resourcefulness.
Spend time reading the other parts of the document. Those sections include potentially relevant points about the person's hobbies and other interests. Look for three-month stints that indicate the ability to stick with a low paying role and learn the basics of the task. This is where fast-food work can help you identify hard workers and those who are less likely to resign or simply stop showing up one day when they become disenchanted with their situation. The "Education" heading should list coursework and degrees in reverse chronological order. Hone in on degrees, majors, and special courses. Usually, the candidate's educational background will match the open position for which they are applying.
Borrow to Cover Interview Expenses
If you're an independent contractor who frequently hires temporary workers or service providers, you'll likely have to conduct a few interviews per year. If funds are short, indie owners can take out personal loans to pay for ATS (applicant tracking system) software, background checks, and other expenses associated with general screening. Keep in mind that as an independent businessperson, it's your responsibility to pay all the bills out of your own pocket. If the company has little revenue during the month you want to conduct candidate interviews, a personal loan can provide the funds you need to bring a qualified worker on board.
When it comes to using the loan's proceeds, there are no restrictions if you fill out the application honestly. Some lenders want to know all the details about why you are seeking a loan. If you reply that it's to fund a sole proprietorship or another kind of for-profit enterprise, you are free to use the cash for anything along those lines. An expert on the subject noted, "Once you're approved for a personal loan, you can use it in any way that makes sense."
Don't Skip Background Checks
It's impossible to judge people by their appearance. While someone's apparel and grooming habits are evident in a face-to-face encounter, it's still necessary to perform routine background checks on anyone you wish to hire. Don't waste money on the process until you're ready to decide. Then, inform the applicant that once hired, the final step is a background check. Avoid doing large numbers of inquiries on candidates you aren't interested in hiring. It costs about $60 to perform a background check on someone. Be sure to get written permission from applicants before conducting the checks.
Cast a Wide Net
Interviews are an important part of the recruitment process because they can help HR professionals meet a variety of candidates and determine which one is right for their company's needs. Independent entrepreneurs and startup owners can also benefit by casting a relatively wide net to attract people from different backgrounds. While it's helpful to write listings in a specific way, avoid placing ads where only one group of people might see them. It's usually smarter to use a major employment platform, like Indeed or Monster, as opposed to a local college or university's newspaper. As an employer, you should understand that even the largest international platforms accept local listings in which hiring agents note, "Local applicants only." But if you're open to online workers, say so in your advertisement.
Allow Time For Their Questions
Set aside a few minutes toward the end of the meeting to take questions from the applicant. This practice achieves several goals. First, it puts the interviewee at ease by offering an open-ended period when they are free to speak freely. Second, it allows them to get answers to points that were never touched upon during the formal discussion. However, as the facilitator of the encounter, it's your job to respond honestly and in full to whatever people ask. If they have specific queries that require a bit of research on your part, let them know that you'll do your best to find the information and convey it to them as soon as possible. Otherwise, most questions are ones you have likely heard many times before.
Be Fair & Helpful
There's no point in making someone nervous just before what might be one of the most stressful half-hours of their life so far. Remember, you already have a job and aren't facing potential rejection or the prospect of continuing to find employment. They are. That's why it's wise to be fair with all candidates by not showing any favoritism toward anyone. Still, treat each one with respect, and be as helpful as possible in the crucial few minutes leading up to the encounter. Put yourself in their shoes and try to be respectful.
What can you do to lower their stress levels? Offer them a drink of water, give a brief tour of the office, engage in friendly small talk about the weather, or let them know that there's no need to be stressed because you're just going to "talk about their job search." Use whatever other techniques you have for putting people at ease. Perhaps relate a humorous thing that happened to you at work that week or apologize for having a slightly messy office.
Take notes or make recordings of the sessions. Be careful to adhere to local laws about video and audio recording. In most cases, you must specifically state that you are recording the meeting and have the person sign a form that they understand the policy. In any case, take notes on paper or a digital device, being careful to stay connected to the subject at all times. Don't get lost in notetaking. Consider using a copy of the person's resume to keep relevant notes. Add points and facts to the appropriate section of the document as the conversation progresses.
Ask a Few Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions can be quite revealing, so be sure to include one or two in your list. The advantage of the tactic is that it gives people a chance to offer up non-specific information in a way that highlights what they consider to be important. For an accounting job, a question like, "Why is accounting such an important subject for you?" gives someone a chance to reveal their true personality.
For practical and legal purposes, ask everyone the same questions. That way, you'll be less likely to treat everyone equally. Work from a written list if you don't have the questions memorized and fill out a brief response sheet for each candidate as they provide their answers to each inquiry.
Don't forget that even though you are the person doing the hiring, the entire structure of an interview is focused on drawing information out of the interviewee. Ask whatever questions you want and spend a few minutes at the beginning and end explaining the position and the company. But the guts of the session should be viewed as the candidate's stage. It's their special time slot for replying to inquiries, putting their best foot forward, and asking you pertinent questions.
It's imperative to listen, take notes, and fully answer any queries the applicants throw your way. Avoid the temptation to butt in or interrupt, a practice that can make even well-composed people nervous. If you do engage in notetaking, don't hide your face behind a laptop screen. Always keep an open space between you and the person with whom you are speaking. Aim to make them comfortable and at ease by listening attentively to what they say.