As an entrepreneur, there are few things quite as exciting as realizing that you need to consider when hiring your first employee.
It is an astounding accomplishment because it means that you have made the right moves to grow your business and surpass the many new companies that often fail in their first year.
However, once the excitement wears off, you soon realize that you now have to learn how to properly hire that first new business associate.
Whether you operate out of an office or are working from home and running your business online, you will need to take the necessary steps to understand your specific needs, find suitable candidates, and vet the best people for the job.
It can be a daunting task, but you can learn from the many who have done it before with these tips.
1. Analyze your hiring needs
As an entrepreneur, saving time and money should be of the utmost importance.
You do not want to hire if you are not positive that you need the help, as you do not want to hire more people than you need.
Employees are important resources, just like finances and equipment, so you need to be smart about how you choose.
If you need guidance for your first hire, then mimic the big corporations who have turned hiring new talent into a science.
Usually, large businesses have a human resources team that plans out staffing needs and is involved in most of the hiring.
Since you are the HR team, follow their planning processes. Start by considering what work needs to be done and how much of it has to be done by others.
Then, make a comprehensive list of necessary duties and think realistically about how many employees are needed to get everything done within budget.
You will also want to consider how much time and money will be necessary for recruitment and training.
Think about what your onboarding process will be and have it planned out, so it is organized and consistent with every new hire you bring on now and in the future.
After you have successfully trained new hires, then you can look back at your processes and determine what tweaks are necessary.
If you are having significant concerns about finding the right people for the job, then you may budget some money for a professional recruiter.
There are many out there who have specific experience working with startups, and they can help with hiring while giving you a few tips along the way.
They will usually spend some time with you to understand your wants, needs, and how you like things done, and then find candidates that fit the profile.
2. Ask the right interview questions
Regardless of whether you hire a recruiter, you will still want to be a part of the interview process so you can ask the right questions and see how the candidate answers.
It is very important to ask enough questions so that you get a true understanding of how the potential employee works and thinks.
First, ask about their character and what they believe in. Why do they want this job?
The answer must be more than just to make money. They have to have a passion for part or all of what your company does.
You can also ask them about any secondary experience.
What other degrees or certifications do they have and would the said involvement be helpful to your current or future needs?
Have the applicant bring a list of references you can call. Ask for references from past employers, colleagues, and academic mentors.
Have the candidate complete a background check waiver so you can take a deeper dive into their past.
When you call the references, take the time to get a real insight into how the candidate performed for them and any shortcomings.
With a signed waiver form, you can also complete a background check for criminal behavior or financial issues like bankruptcy, which may be red flags for your particular industry.
3. Look for specific traits
If you are unsure of what to ask, then look at what other entrepreneurs consider to be necessary questions and mold them to your business.
However, you want to ask questions that not only offer a glimpse at their experience but also about essential traits that create good employees and future leaders.
One important question to ask is about the candidate’s weaknesses or areas of improvement.
Having a weakness doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual is flawed, but instead, it means that they may have a certain amount of emotional intelligence.
Basically, when someone is not too proud to admit that they have a weakness, it means that they know that they need to take steps in a particular area to better themselves.
Those with emotional intelligence are easier to mold and train, and these attributes are essential at a new company.
Emotional intelligence includes a healthy sense of empathy.
Essentially, empathy involves accepting emotions and understanding the needs of others so you can improve their experience, which is an especially important trait when dealing with external customers.
When an employee sees a customer as a person instead of a number, they are more likely to take the necessary steps to ensure that the client is assisted as part of a “one-time resolution.”
When employees have this mindset, your retention can improve as customers will come back to you instead of going somewhere else where the agents aren’t as understanding.
Regardless of the type of business, you need all employees to have strong communication skills.
They should be able to speak in public, their written communication must be clear and error-free, and perhaps most importantly, they need to be good with active listening.
Yes, listening is just as important as speaking when communicating, as someone who truly listens and takes good notes will use what they have learned to prompt an intelligent response.
Active listening is just as important with customers as it is with you as their manager, because if they don’t take the time to listen, then they may not provide the services that you truly require.
You can see how a person really listens during the interview process.
When someone actively listens, then they also ask smart questions, so they understand the concept even better.
This is one of the reasons why the applicant should have some insightful questions at the end of the interview.
4. Consider a temporary assignment
Every new entrepreneur with limited hiring experience may have the same questions:
- If I commit, will this employee work out?
- Do I have enough work for one employee, or will I need others?
- How will a new employee fit into my office culture?
You can answer these and many other questions by putting the hiring aside for now and instead opting to have the candidate come on as a temporary employee or as a consultant.
However, a consultant enters the job knowing that this is a trial period, and if they are no longer needed, then they might be let go.
There is also the chance that if the employee suits all of your needs that they may be hired full-time.
This process will allow you to truly understand how a new employee fits your business model, what needs to be changed, and if additional hiring is necessary.
Now that you know what you are looking for, it is just a matter of finding that perfect candidate.
If you need additional help, most communities have resources available for every type of entrepreneur, whether they are male, female, business savvy, or just starting out.
Reach out, listen to their tips, and build your own ideal hiring strategy.
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Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.