Hiring is a special skill.
When done right, it creates a magical combination and a culture that stands apart! It gives good people a place to call home from a job perspective, and to thrive and bring out the best in themselves.
Hiring is so much more than the legalese though! Finding the right combination of person for position, manager & business, is really hard!
So here’s some quick Frequently Asked Questions (and answers!) about hiring as a small business that can make the difference in whether someone sticks around, or takes off a week or two into the job!
Q1. What is the first thing to consider when you hire someone for your company?
A1: Most important is to ensure that you hire someone who is a good culture fit for the company. If they don’t enjoy working for your organization, if they don’t fit in, they will self-select out quickly. This is especially prominent inside of small businesses because the employees often create a very tightly knit family and it’s hard to come in to that! Remember the first time you met your significant other’s family? It’s awkward and they have so many inside jokes, it takes a minute to get your bearings!
You really have to care a LOT about someone to push through that awkwardness. That’s where it’s important to find someone who is a good position fit as well and passionate about the vision and mission of the company.
I always remind my clients that if your new employee doesn’t already have some level of passion for your vision and mission, if they don’t already embrace your core values at some level already, it doesn’t matter how much money you pay them, they will never be passionate enough to push through the pain of acclimation or interested enough to give you 110%.
Earlier this year I went against my better judgement and hired a lady who had only ever worked for major corporations. She didn’t buy from or embrace small business, and if you understand our mission (To disrupt the way the world does small business), you can see where the problem stemmed.
She lasted less than two months before I let her go.
Culture fit is key.
Q2. Why is it so difficult to find a good fit?
A2: When hiring, you’re looking for as close to a perfect intersection between the company, the manager, the position, and the person as possible. Finding the place where all those intersect, is hard!
Most of the time, the business owner is most focused on finding someone who can do the job, forgetting that that’s only a third of the equation.
Managers, with training, can adjust their management and communication style to match a candidate, but it adds a lot of stress to expect the manager to adjust all the time, so trying to find a match is helpful!
Q3. What are some good do's and don'ts when it comes to hiring?
A3: Good question!
Do have a plan in advance for your hiring process.
You should know in advance how many interviews you’re going to run, what questions you are going to ask on those interviews, whether they will be run in-person or over the phone, who will run the interviews. Additionally, plan in advance whether you’re going to run reference checks and when you’ll have the candidate take a personality assessment.
Do outline this information & the questions you want to ask in advance rather than flying by the seat of your pants through the interview process itself. When you do, you have time to focus on the interview and the answers rather than what’s next. Plus you can add questions to your rotation that can check the validity of their resume if that’s your jam! You can also ensure that you’re asking questions that will give you insight as to their fit to the culture, the position and the manager!
Do include a personality assessment. Find one that you can read, that gives you good information about the match to the company, the position and the manager (For more information on the TTI Talent Insight assessments we recommend and getting information on how to use them for yourself, email Stephanie@GrowDisrupt.com).
Do ask questions that require your candidate to tell you a story about their past. You can learn so much about what someone cares about and prioritizes when you ask a question like “What is your last great customer service experience?” I can learn about their shopping habits, how they will treat my customers, and what they think makes a customer service experience great.
Do NOT hire too quickly!
Too often a business owner waits too long to hire, gets desperate and hires the first person they think might possibly be a decent fit because they need someone NOW. Then forgets to take enough work off their plate to ensure they have time to train properly, and then wonders why their employees perform subpar or quit quickly.
Do NOT vary from the hiring process you put together in advance! You put it together for a reason. Don’t skip questions unless they’ve already been answered, don’t skip interviews, or checks and balances!
Do NOT abandon your new employee once they come onboard! Humans want to perform competently, they want to feel capable. Too often they are hired, given one quick training and then thrown to the wind with a quick “Let me know if you need anything!” said in such a manager that makes it clear that you better not ask for anything!
Humans need support and training. And often need to be trained on something multiple times! Now if you’re having to retrain the same thing, and ALL the things, over and over five or six times, you may need to rethink keeping that person onboard. But giving someone a once-through and then walking away is a surefire way to set the employee up to fail!
None of us want to feel incompetent. We get a release of hormones like Serotonin and Oxytocin when we are able to complete a task effortlessly and start to fall in love with our job and become much less likely to take off!
Q4. What are red flags in the hiring process and how can you tell if someone is lying to you?
A4: Red flags will vary from person to person. I had one client who was determined to not hire someone unless they had 2+ years of experience in sales. It’s not a personal red flag for me, but everyone has to make those decisions for themselves.
What are you absolutely not willing to put up with in their work history?
My biggest red flag is if I catch someone lying.
But catching that lie during the interview process can be challenging! We typically set up multiple interviews with multiple individuals and ask questions that would have the same or similar answers, then compare notes afterwards! We had one individual tell the same story to different people, but inserted different numbers for each person he told it to. No matter how you try and spin that, it didn’t bode well for his potential in the position.
Another red flag I encourage people to look for (at least in Texas where it’s legal) is to check social media platforms. I look for posts that indicate a mindset that won’t mesh with my culture, or any clues that they aren’t who they appear to be in the interview.
Obviously, it's not legal to determine whether or not you're going to hire somebody based on their age, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religious affiliations, etc. But you can look at their social media profiles and at least in the state of Texas, you can see if they are the kind of person you want to represent yourself and your company. For me, if someone is on their social media profile and they're calling racial slurs and talking about how they scam small businesses because they're so easy to take advantage of, that to me is a pretty legit reason to not hire that individual enough. If it's posted online, it's fair game to consider as far as hiring and firing goes, as long as it doesn't fall under any of the protected categories (Make sure you know what these are and check them out somewhere to avoid them).
Q5. How do you avoid a bad hire?
Stick to your pre-set hiring process.
Stick to your pre-set hiring process.
Stick to your pre-set hiring process.
Was I clear on that yet?
I had a client a while ago that we built out a robust hiring process for, and after three hires started and quit within 10 days, we realized that they weren’t actually following the process!
They were running the right number of interviews, but not asking the questions we picked in advance and not communicating with each other on their notes.
In essence, we lost our ability to see whether we had a good culture fit and an authentic individual.
You can implement changes as needed. But changing it up every interview is a recipe for disaster.
And when you’re uncomfortable hiring that individual, follow your gut!
Q6. How do you get rid of a bad hire when you make a bad hire?
A6: Documentation! Documentation, documentation, documentation...
Document what you train them on, when you train them on it, how often you have to repeat it, when they make mistakes, etc.
The easiest way to ensure you document everything thoroughly is to have a prepared training process in advance. Then all you have to do is document when you re-train and when they make a mistake. The key here, to avoid it becoming all about “you screwed up” and instead making it about “We’re documenting everything so that you have a reference of your learning process, you can see where you need to spend a little extra time and master things quicker!
Mistakes happen, we all know they do. Setting the expectation ahead of time that you’re going to document thoroughly to allow them to see things in writing and learn quicker and create their own personal training plan sets it up positively.
It also provides the documentation you need if you need to fire the employee!
Q7. What is the secret weapon to keeping the right people?
A7: Have a thorough onboarding and training process.
Onboarding is an introduction to the company culture and training is an introduction to the job/role requirements. You need both.
Once you choose someone who is a pretty good fit, they need an intentional introduction to your culture, their role, their manager, everything! It’s not enough to assume that they will pick up on it on their own. You need to ensure it’s incredibly well laid out in a “can’t miss it” kind of fashion!
Trust me, it’s not worth leaving this up to chance.
Have a plan for how you’ll show them the culture, what they’ll receive in writing to supplement what you show them. Ask yourself how you’ll introduce them to the chain of command? How about
What will you train on, and when for their role? And how will you ensure that it becomes engrained in their DNA and isn’t just a piece of paper they read or a presentation they sit through?
You're going to lose people.
I was chatting with a lady recently who had just hired an assistant and her personality assessment was pretty spot-on and there weren’t any flags during the hiring process, but two weeks in, she had to quit to take care of family issues.
You just don't have control over everything.
People are going to come and go in business. It happens.
Take control of what you can, and let the chips fall where they may. Yes, you'll get people in, you'll lose people. But you’ll keep more people than you'll lose, over time.
If you’re still struggling with hiring & retention, fill out the contact form here and tell us a little bit about what you’ve tried and we’d love to send you some suggestions to help!
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!