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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Hiring an Employee – The Interview Process

If you’re hiring an employee for the first time, the interview process can be just as intimidating for you as it is for those who apply for the job. Here are some tips for smooth and successful interviews.

Get the Word Out
Once you’ve determined exactly what you’re looking for in the person you hire, write out a job description. Be sure to include the work hours, what education and experience is required to fill the position, the characteristics needed to perform the job successfully, and, of course, where resumes should be sent.

It is best to have two job description formats, a brief description for periodical circulations such as your local paper, and a detailed description for online job search engines, such as Also, check with local colleges and see if they have a career center, as most provide an online job search for students.

Review and Prepare
Set aside time each day to review any resumes you’ve received. It’s a good idea to have the job description in front of you as a reminder of what requirements you presented for the position. Rate each candidate on a scale from one to ten. This will give you a quick reference on whom to call first for an interview.

Also, for those candidates you intend to meet with, jot down any questions you may have about information they indicated on their resume, such as why they were unemployed for two years, or why they want to leave their present position. Additionally, you will want to have a list of basic interview questions that you ask each candidate, to give you a basis of comparison.

Some suggested questions:

• What would be the perfect job for you and why?
• What characteristics in a supervisor motivate you to produce your best work?
• Name and explain your top two strengths and weaknesses.
• Where do you see yourself in five years?
• Describe two instances where your work was criticized and how you responded.

Conducting the Interview
Anyone who walks through your doors for an interview is going to be nervous, regardless of their credentials. Put them at ease by starting with small talk and neutral topics such as what the job entails or how and why you started the business and where you see it heading.

Then move on to questions about the information listed on their resume. Avoid questions with yes or no answers, but, rather, keep the questions open-ended. To avoid rehearsed answers use follow-up questions and keep the candidate thinking on their toes.

Have interviewees bring documentation with them to prove the accuracy of their resume, such as college transcripts or letters of recommendation from previous employers. Not everyone is honest on their resume, in fact, nearly 40% of job applications have some sort of inflated or bogus information, so have then verify it.

During the interview keep your eyes open for the expression of qualities you’re looking for in a potential employee. Is the candidate communicating clearly? Does she express passion for the industry? Pay attention to the nonverbal cues such as their posture and outward appearance. Did he take time to iron his shirt?

You may also want to consider having each candidate take a personality or assessment test as part of the interview process. I highly recommend investing in the Personality Puzzle Test developed by Florence and Marita Littauer specifically for employers and employees. Take it yourself and then provide it to potential candidates to see how well your personalities will click.

Before making any decisions, always call all references listed on the resume and anyone that may have written a letter of recommendation (to verify that he actually wrote it). Also, it’s always a good idea to perform background checks on education, judicial matters, and previous employers. You’d be surprised what some people think they can hide.

Be sure to give the potential employees a time frame for when they can expect to hear from you. They will be anxious, so don’t leave them hanging in the air on whether or not they got the job. Make personal calls or write rejection and offer letters. If it is a rejection, be sure to explain why so that they can see where they might need improvement.

For further information on the requirements for becoming a first time employer, be sure to check out yesterday’s post How to Hire Your First Employee.

• Hiring Your First Employee
• Interviewing Applicants

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
SBA Hurting Small Business?
Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, December 24th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

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