Finding and hiring good employees is one of the most important things a small business owner and freelancers can do because employees are the ones on the frontline of your business. If they screw up, they give you, and your business, a bad name.
Essentially, this is a three-step process:
Step 1: Finding potential employees and preparing for the interview
The questions you prepare should mostly be open-ended – questions that require the applicant to explain things.
The first thing to consider is what the qualifications for the position will be. If yours is a fast food business, then the type of person you’ll need will obviously be much different than if it’s a hair-cutting salon. But either way, you need to consider how much schooling and experience the person should have, what sort of people skills they need to have, what you want from them, etc.
These attributes then need to become part of your interview questionnaire so that you can see whether the applicant meets your qualifications. The questions you prepare should mostly be open-ended – questions that require the applicant to explain things. You need to have several questions ready regarding each important attribute for the position.
Then, once you know what it is you want from someone, you need to find a stable of potential employees to interview for the position(s.) Sure, a “help wanted” ad will draw in a pool of general applicants, but don’t overlook such options as:
- Temp agencies. This is a great way to give an employee a “test drive” before making a long-term commitment of time and resources.
- Seniors: They are responsible, eager to please, and usually have a great work ethic.
- State employment agencies: Every state has job placement programs. The advantage of posting a job listing here is that the state may actually pre-screen applicants for you.
- Colleges: Universities are a great place to find part-time, inexpensive, smart employees.
Step 2: Choosing the right employee
Among the things you need to discover in the interview are: How responsible is this person, what their work history is, why they left their last job, how well they take direction, whether they have ever been fired, why they want this job, their qualifications, similar work experience, etc.
As much as you want someone who meets your qualifications, you can’t overlook their personality and how well you may or may not get along with them. Be sure to get references and resumes.
Also, know too that there are things you cannot legally ask about in an interview. Since you cannot discriminate in hiring because of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, or disabilities (for the most part), any questions along these lines are probably illegal and should be avoided. You need to concentrate on job-related questions.
Step 3: Training and supervision
Once you have made your decision and hired an employee or two, it is incumbent upon you to help them succeed. You do this by training them properly. Let them know what is expected of them, how to do their job properly, and how to make you happy.
Managing people is another large topic altogether, but just remember, you usually get more out of people using honey than you do with vinegar.
Finally, if it turns out that you have an employee who isn’t working out, be sure to document it. Give them written warning and show them in writing what they are doing wrong. That way, if you ever do have to fire someone, a “wrongful discharge” suit will be hard for him or her to prove.