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How to Hire Great Staff as a Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, you're forced to wear many hats: Accountant, Customer Service Representative, Shipping Expert, and Human Resources Official. It's easy to neglect that last option and assume that only big businesses need to worry about HR, however, that is a big mistake. Understanding how to hire staff for your small company is one of the most important skills you can develop for maximizing profits and success.

 

Offer Flexible Benefits 

Sometimes running your own business means you can't offer benefits like cheap insurance, an on-site gym, or a year of paid maternity leave. If you want to attract the best talent, you have to offer other perks. Otherwise, why would they work for you instead of a corporate competitor? Think about the unique options you can give employees. Extra vacation time, work-from-home opportunities, or flexible hours can convince the right candidates to come to you. What about a share in the company's profits or discounted services? Maybe you can give employees' family members the first opportunity for seasonal employment. Whatever your business model, you can find something special to offer candidates.

 

Use Behavioral Interviewing

 The best way to get to know a candidate's true strengths and weaknesses is behavioral interviewing. Instead of asking "Do you have customer service experience?" ask "Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with an irate customer?" or "What was the worst experience you ever had with a guest and how did you handle it?" Story-based questions like these give interviewees a chance to explain their thought processes. That lets you know how they'll approach problems when working with you. If you only make one change to your small business's hiring practices, start using behavioral interviewing. It's that powerful.

 

Discuss Company Culture

If you're running a tech start-up, you don't want a stuffy new hire who'll wear suits on casual Friday. That candidate might be the perfect match for a small accounting practice that won't want the Hawaiian-shirt-loving programmer you're seeking. Company culture plays a big role in retaining staff and maximizing productivity. Make yours clear at every step of the hiring process. The language you choose for your job advertisements, phone screening, and interview process can signal candidates about what you're looking for in an employee. You'll save time and make smarter hires. 

Are you one of the many small business owners who thinks your company doesn't have a culture? Think again. Do you invite staff over for company barbecues at your house or do you have a more formal relationship with your employees? Are work hours flexible or rigid? What about dress code, personal decorations at work, or after-hours availability for emergencies? If you can articulate your company's overall culture, you'll have a better idea of what to look for in an ideal candidate.

 

Expand Your Personal Network

Hiring friends and friends of friends can keep your business from reaching its full potential. Numerous workplace studies have shown that diversity of thought is the best way to reach new markets, drive innovation, and keep companies relevant. Your immediate circle is probably a lot like you, so you won't get the variety you need unless you're looking for employees in creative ways. Reach out to local universities, employment agencies, or trade organizations.

 

Create Internships or Temporary Positions

 Imagine if you could hire a new employee for three months. You'd get to test out their skills and see how they function once the new job excitement has faded. Firing them would be easy and drama free. There's a way to test out new staff - internships and temporary positions. No matter what kind of small business you run, you can create a short-term position in marketing, inventory management, or client services. Just make sure you're offering useful experience and a competitive pay-rate, so you'll attract serious applicants. When you find the perfect temp worker, offer them a full-time position. Otherwise, let their position end and try again with someone else.

 

When you have a workforce of five, one bad apple can ruin everything. Don't let your great business idea get ruined by poor hiring practices. The time and energy you invest in finding quality candidates for your small business will yield exponential returns.