8 Hiring And Interview Tips For Small Business Owners

Ready to hire new employees? Here's a brief and comprehensive list of hiring and interview tips to help you find your ideal employees.

Once you’ve launched your business, talk of expansion, and growth will be on the horizon. This commonly requires outsourcing and hiring new staff to take on the rising demands associated with a growing business.

Like many first-time founders, you may not be aware of how challenging it is to hire the right people from day one. This is even more of a hurdle to overcome while running daily operations.

So, here’s a brief and comprehensive list of hiring and interview tips to help you find your ideal employees.


Hiring tips for small business owners


1. Create clear job descriptions

Identify the key skills and talents potential candidates should possess. This step alone will help you immediately weed out unqualified applicants. Next, describe the work environment.

Is it fast-paced? Is there a focus on individual or team-based projects? List your expectations for the role and describe your business operations. These two steps will improve your chances of finding motivated employees who are a good fit for the job and the culture.

Although a university degree is a classic requirement for many roles, don’t hesitate to embrace candidates who don’t have one, yet fit the bill. Perhaps they spend their time building a portfolio of relevant work experience rather than completing college courses. A degree doesn’t always reflect someone’s accomplishments, which is why more and more businesses are removing that requirement from their job descriptions.


2. Hire freelancers

The gig economy is alive and well. Quality employers and freelancers can connect, collaborate, and get work done flexibly across various specialized platforms, including Guru.com, Upwork, and Fiverr, to name a few.

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Freelancers, as opposed to salaried employees, are hired on a project basis where specialized skills are necessary. If you’re running a startup and not yet ready to hire full or part-time employees, hiring a freelancer is a smart alternative. You can work with someone for an extended ‘trial’ period and possibly hire that person down the road. 


3. Ask for referrals

If you have a current team in place, asking for referrals is an excellent hiring resource. Remember, your employees don’t want to work with substandard coworkers anymore than you want them on your payroll. It’s unlikely they’ll suggest someone who isn’t up to snuff (their reputation is on the line too).

Consider offering a bonus incentive to employees for recommending new hires. This can include paid time off (PTO), tickets to an event, or a financial reward.


Interview tips for small business owners


4. Avoid illegal interview questions

There are several questions that you are not allowed to ask during job interviews. They include questions regarding ethnicity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, and marital status. Cross these categories off your list to ensure you don’t violate The Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States.


5. Ask open-ended questions

Leave yes and no questions for the job application. During the interview, your goal is to gather relevant information. Instead of asking, “Have you ever struggled with completing a project on time?” Instead, “Tell me about a time when you struggled to complete a project on-time and the result?” Always ask for examples. If you’re discussing sales performance, for example, ask about the specific strategy they employed to win a quarterly sales contest.


6. Look for flexibility

Employees of a small business are likely to wear any number of hats. For example, your marketing lead might have to field a customer service complaint. Try to ascertain whether potential candidates can think quickly on their feet and if they are open to tasks and projects outside their expertise.

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7. Get to know the person beyond their role

Get to know your job candidates beyond their professional skill sets. Today’s job market is increasingly focused on the individual beyond their role. Consider the way a candidate speaks to you regarding their work and personal interests. Would he/she fit well with your current team? Do they embody your core values?

The more you know beforehand, the better chance you’ll have to ensure a good fit for both your business and staff.


8. Be transparent about your hiring process

When the interview is complete, share the process going forward. If you’d prefer not to receive follow-up calls or emails, say so. If you will decide in a specific time frame, inform the candidate. This eliminates back-and-forth ambiguity and elicits mutual respect for the process.


Final thoughts

Hiring employees is an important step in scaling a business. Despite the challenge, preparation is the best strategy. From clear job descriptions to a thoughtful interview process, take the necessary steps along the way to find your perfect hires.


Anthony Lewis graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University and is sharing HR tips on behalf of Money Crashers. He’s since worked his way up in corporate America before starting all over again ten years into his career — but this time as a business owner himself. Launching his coaching business and struggling through the interview process to find his first, then his second employee, he’s learned the most important hiring lessons through first-hand experience.


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