For Goodness Sake, Interview Before You Hire!

by Sue Pitts on February 24, 2011

One of the biggest reported problems for small businesses is less than reliable employees. This seems to be especially true for service types of business who hire employees to help them work in more jobs/hours.

Today I was sitting with a client who is a successful business, running a successful commercial service. He told me that hiring the right employee was the toughest thing. He had gone through many employees, each with their own horror story . As we were talking, I happened to ask how he hired. His answer was through referrals from friends and occasionally he used Craigslist. I then asked him if he held formal interviews with candidates. He did not.

Interviewing before hiring seems like common sense, however, I am betting that this is somewhat common in small service businesses. When a very small construction company or service provider needs help they need it tomorrow.  My advice is to slow down and set down a process for hiring. Although you may not hit an exact deadline, it could avoid hiring the wrong people. This process does not need to take weeks and involve countless interviews and second interviews, but there should be a process none the less.

1. Prepare a job description for the job you want to hire for along with a list of skills and attributes you would like to have

2. Gather a list of potential employees. Whether you do this through referrals, workforce development or job listings it doesn’t matter. The point is to gather more than one potential candidate.

3. Sit down either formally (at your office) or informally at a coffee house or restaurant and meet face to face with candidates. Tell them about the job and ask if it is something they are familiar with. Are they comfortable with the hours you need them to work. Do they have the skills you need or are they capable of being trained? Do they have the same outlook on work ethics as you do. There may be more formal steps you want to take in this process, but at least meet with several candidates first. You may be surprised at how easy it is to see just by meeting with them if they are a fit with your company. I would also suggest that you adhere to state, federal, and industry regulations when hiring. You can research this through the Department of Labor, Iowa (or your states) Department of labor or Workforce Development offices as well as your States Economic Development agency to check for industry regulations.

Do you have hiring stories you would like to share? Please leave additional hiring advice and/or your own stories of hiring gone bad below in the comments.

Picture credit: Tensafefrogs

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