7 Best Hiring Practices for Small Business Owners in 2019

As you grow your small business, you may need more people on your team to help you achieve your goals. The employees you hire set the foundation for your company’s success, noted Joanne Markow, founding partner of Boston-based career coaching organization GreenMason.

“Your hires are your connection between you, your customers, your brand, your livelihood and your legacy,” Markow said. “Rather than see the hiring process as administrative or transactional or, quite frankly, as something to get through, instead view your hiring process as the key piece of investment in your company’s future and potential for growth.”

While you may be eager to begin hiring, don’t share job listings or start interviewing candidates until you’re ready to act quickly, said Arlene Donovan, founder and CEO of Turning Point Coaching in Connecticut. You could lose out on a valuable employee if you drag out the process too long.

Once you’re prepared to expand your team, follow these best practices to make the most of your hiring process.

7 Best Hiring Practices in 2019

1. Spend less time on the job description.

Business owners and hiring managers tend to write lengthy job descriptions that include paragraphs about the company, job duties and responsibilities in addition to a long list of required skills, Markow said. While applicants should understand the full scope of the position, extensive text may be intimidating to job seekers, she said.

“Write less and converse more,” Markow said. “You scare people when you write too much and ask for the moon.”

Personality traits and soft skills, such as listening and communicating, are better predictors of how well someone will perform in a certain role, Markow said. You’re more likely to determine those characteristics in an in-person interview, so don’t be overly concerned with finding a resume that matches up exactly with the job description.

“The paper is really just an introduction,” Markow said.

[Related: The Ultimate Job Description Checklist]

2. Ask open-ended questions with answers in mind.

Asking candidates open-ended questions during an interview will allow you to pick up on soft skills that indicate how they may behave in the workplace, Markow said. For example, you could ask candidates about projects they’ve worked on, leadership experiences or conflicts at work.

“By asking more conversational questions that lead to a dialogue, you’ll have a more accurate impression of whether you can work with this person and whether he or she is up for the challenge,” Markow said.

You should also have an idea of the responses you’d like to hear so you can adequately judge candidates, she said. If multiple managers are conducting interviews, you should be in agreement in what you expect. Anyone conducting interviews should ask questions in the same style and represent the company culture to give the applicant a cohesive impression of the business, Markow said.

3. Create a sense of belonging from the first phone call.

From the first point of contact with a job candidate, make sure they feel like they would have a place within the company, Donovan said. Let a job candidate know they would be valued in the workplace regardless of their position in the organization, she said.

You should maintain the same level of enthusiasm throughout the hiring and onboarding processes once they join your team, Donovan said. All new employees should feel they have a future within the business.

4. Give candidates time to ask questions.

Candidates’ questions during an interview are often just as important as managers’, Markow said. Job seekers have a responsibility to find out if the job and workplace is a good match, and you should give them time to do so.

“They have to be able to sense if the employer is a right fit for them,” she said.

[Related: Behavioral Interviewing Questions and Templates]

5. Prepare for interviews.

When you give candidates an opportunity to ask questions, you must be prepared to answer, Markow said. You should be ready to provide information about the position in question, the company as a whole and how the candidate could succeed at the company.

Coming into an interview unprepared could not only ruin a candidate’s perception of the job, but could also damage your reputation as well, Markow said. Word of their negative experience could deter prospective applicants.

“You are affecting your brand if you come across poorly in an interview,” she said.

6. Don’t rely too much on technology.

Technological tools have become prevalent in recruiting processes, but they don’t always help you find the best person for the job,  said Markow. Tools like artificial intelligence software that matches keywords in job descriptions and resumes may limit your pool of candidates.

Without face-to-face interaction, you won’t be able to judge the soft skills that make someone a good fit or not for the job at hand, Markow added. Relying too much on data could be detrimental to finding the right employee.

“For some reason, we’ve forced ourselves into this mechanical exercise,” she said. “But it’s really about interpersonal skills between employer or employee.”

7. Hold informational interviews or meetings.

When searching for a job, people will often reach out to a company where they would like to work even if the company isn’t hiring. As a manager or business owner, you should take meetings with people who are exploring their career options, Markow said. You can reach out to them at a later time when you have an opening.

“It’s a good sign if someone is actively coming to you and seeking out the company,” Markow said. “And when someone is preparing to leave, you always have a pool of candidates ready.”

This article was originally published on Lending Tree. It is reprinted with permission.

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