Small business employee hiring tips: 20 things entrepreneurs wish they knew

Avoid employment nightmares with these hiring guidelines from other small businesses.

Small businesses often need a versatile team that can comfortably wear multiple "hats" to fill gaps that a larger company with a more specialized workforce does not. Hiring the best candidates requires entrepreneurs to evaluate talent quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Creating a comprehensive hiring guide for employees can help avoid the pitfalls of bringing in a potential problem your small business does not need and cannot afford. Plan for extensive qualifications questioning, skills testing, and exploring intra-personal traits should shed additional light on whether the candidate is up to your small business' standards. In short, use this checklist before you hire your next employee.


1. Check employment & labor laws.
Know your rights, and theirs, before you even get started.

2. Education is no guarantee of competency.
Having a fancy degree doesn't always mean they have experience for your job.

3. Give yourself as much time as you need to do interviews.
Think of job candidates as an investment, and like any investment decision, don't rush into it.

4. You're being interviewed, too.
Companies that snatch up the best talent; market their attributes, benefits, and perks to potential employees.

5. Ask about employment gaps.
Certain reasons can be a red flag.

6. Have an employee handbook.
Employees can get on their feet quicker with clear ground rules in place. The Small Business Administration can get you started.

7. Ask about drug and background tests.
The main thing with this one is to watch their reaction when you ask if they'll consent to one.

8. Google them.
You'd be surprised what might show up.

9. Ask about working speed.
How long would it take you to do X?

10. Let them talk.
Ask a question, and then keep quiet.People will naturally try to fill the silence.

11. Learn how to do behavioral interviews.
You start by asking an open-ended question, but all your following questions are based on their answers.

12. Try not to hire family.
It's a risk. This makes it hard to be the boss, and your business objectives might not always align with family objectives.

13. Experience is not greater than personality.
A talented pessimist could create an unhappy working environment.

14. Listen for negativity.
How negative are they when recalling previous employers? What about previous co-workers?

15. Don't just ask work-related questions.
Get a sense for what their hobbies and interests are. It may clue you in to their character.

16. Get a second opinion.
Find a trusted co-worker to chat with the candidate while you're not there, and see what they think.

17. Go ahead — judge a book by its cover.
Sometimes appearance can indicate character.

18. Did they do any research?
See how much they know about your business and how prepared they are for the interview.

19. Check out their social media.
One company hired and fired an employee before she even started her first day of work. They found out she was already bad-mouthing her new job on Twitter.

20. Test their skills.
Don't be afraid to give them a test that relates to their skillset. Give them a quick assignment to see how they react and solve a problem.


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