A strong, cohesive and productive team is the bedrock of any company. Finding the right people for the right jobs within a business can be an intensive process, and small businesses hiring efforts in particular must pay careful attention to the quality of new employees. Having fewer overall employees means seeking out people with a wide range of skills and greater accountability and flexibility. Good HR management is also the key to reducing the time investment required to manage turnober, and to improving relationships in a closely knit work environment. As a small business owner, how can you find the employee candidates that are right for you?
You can start by planning your recruitment process with strategies that are tailored for small businesses. Contary to popular belief, the same interview questions that a large firm might use when screening a candidate are not necessarily the kind that a small business should use.
Small businesses need to ask the kinds of questions that will let them get a sense of whether a prospective employee will be able to handle change and the wearing of many hats. Transparency about the nature of the role is key – let the applicant know about the various responsibilities they may need to take on to avoid creating a “bait and switch.”
When looking for an open-minded and adaptable candidate, focus on behavioural interview techniques and questions. Instead of creating closed or hypothetical questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?”, give the candidate the opportunity to reflect on their past work, the decisions they made, and the successes or consequences that resulted from those decisions. By assessing how a particular candidate behaved in an ambiguous or challenging situation, you can get a sense of their ability to do the same in the context of your business.
Aside from adaptability and transparency, one of the most important factors in making a strong hiring decision in a small business is cultural fit. Take the time in the interview process to create a description of your working culture: the elements of personality and process that define who you are and why you do what you do. If your work environment is laid-back, make sure your candidate is not intimidated by the interview process. If you’re looking for someone with professionalism and precision, exude that character in your voice, tone and the style of your questions – and look for it in return. Think of a single phrase that encapsulates your business’ core values, and probe your candidate’s ability to do what that phrase asks.
With persistence, the right approach, well thought out questions and a bit of luck, your small business hiring effort will connect you with employees who stand the test of time and grow with your business. Make the most of your unique culture and embrace what makes you different from larger firms, and you can build a team that will form genuine bonds.