How to foolproof your hiring decisions

Establishing a rigorous and effective interview process is essential for every small business. Here’s how to do it.
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It’s easy to mistake conducting a job interview as one of the least taxing demands of running a business. After all, what’s so difficult about making small talk, forging a good rapport and determining if someone is the right fit?

Unfortunately, the statistics tell a different story. In 2011, The Harvard Business Review pointed out that flawed recruitment processes are one of the biggest issues faced by small business and that nearly 80 per cent of staff turnover can be traced back to bad hiring decisions.

Hiring someone who is the wrong fit for your company can cost you more than just an annual salary, it can have major implications for staff morale and customer relationships, and could see you shoulder unwanted recruitment costs down the line. Establishing a rigorous and effective interview process is essential for every small business. Here’s how to do it:

Know what you’re searching for

Think carefully about exactly what type of person you’re seeking before you start searching for your dream candidate. It helps to consider the staff members who formerly occupied the role and map out the attributes that made them excel or fall short. List these factors and incorporate them in the selection criteria – this creates the best possible chance that your new hire will meet expectations.

Question time

Once you’ve established a set of criteria that closely addresses the demands of the job, it’s easy to construct questions to get the best response from your candidate. A set of seven to 12 questions will help you form a clear picture of the person in front of you. Try to include a couple that allow them to outline a task they performed particularly well, one that invites them to speak about a mistake and what steps they took to rectify it and one backup question in case they get stumped along the way.

Remember that behavioural questions are more useful than those that attempt to blindside the candidate, a question such as “Tell me about a time you implemented a system to improve client satisfaction?” is better than “You don’t have enough experience, why should I hire you?”

Err on the side of caution

It’s fine to ask in-depth questions, but be wary of topics you shouldn’t touch. Focus on the job requirements and steer clear of anything that could be conceived as discriminatory. That means inquiries related to race, religion, marital status and disability should be left off the table in the interview process.

It’s a wrap

It might be tempting to do all the talking, but the most productive interviewers let the candidates shine. Make sure you give them the chance to ask you any questions, and prompt them to wrap up by summing up their skills and explaining why they’re right for the job.

Ratings alert

Basing hiring decisions on first impressions alone can lead business owners into all types of trouble. Remember that you’re searching for someone who will do the best job, not someone who you want as your best friend. Develop solid criteria, evaluate each skill against an established standard and make sure you do this for every candidate. It’s helpful to involve a second employee in the hiring process – this will help ensure that your decision is impartial and objective.

Hiring new employees can be a difficult process to perfect. However, with the right preparation and knowledge of exactly the type of person you want to hire, you will be able to build a team of staff members who share common goals and boost your business.

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