Since you decided to become an entrepreneur and take on the challenge of starting a small business, you’ve had to learn a lot of new skills. By this point, you may know more about computers or accounting than you ever expected or wanted to.
Depending on the size and type of business you own, management may also be a brand new arena you have to enter, and one that’s fraught with pitfalls. Among the earliest you are likely to encounter: hiring.
The interview process may seem pretty straightforward, and in a lot of ways it is, but hiring right now is not what it once was. With so many people looking for work, chances are you’ll receive a lot of interest in your job posting. A larger pool means you have a higher likelihood of finding the right candidate, but you have to be able to recognize that person when he or she walks into your office.
Desperate doesn’t necessarily mean qualified
It can be very, very tempting to give an open position to the candidate who seems to want it the most. You might assume that strong desire will translate into a strong work ethic, but that isn’t necessarily always the case.
While you don’t want to be the quintessential ruthless business person, you are also not in business to help out the unemployed (unless of course that’s what your business does). Avoid the temptation to let your job candidates’ eagerness overshadow their resumes.
Don’t discount the overqualified
There is a school of thought among managers that an overqualified person is a poor investment because he or she is only going to leave when something better comes along. In fact, there are a number of reasons someone may seek a job that doesn’t utilize his or her entire education or experience, and hiring these folks can be one of the best choices you make for your small business.
How do you know if an overqualified candidate is looking to tread water at your business while waiting for a better opportunity? Well, first you have to ask.
Don’t throw out a resume because it reflects someone who could demand twice as much pay as you are offering. Instead, call up the candidate for a pre-interview over the phone. Let them know that you noticed their resume seemed pretty impressive compared to their peers, and ask what reasons they have for applying for this position, and if they plan on continuing to seek work after being hired.
Of course it’s always possible that the candidate will lie, but you’d be surprised how often simply being straightforward and frank about this sort of thing can catch someone totally off-guard and in turn get you an unrehearsed, honest answer.
Always call references
The unspoken secret in the job-hunting field is that no one ever calls references. One woman I know with a 30 year history in a volatile field where frequent job changes are the norm tells me that only 20% of the companies that have ended up hiring her over the years called her references first. I suppose the other 80% were just lucky this woman was honest.
Job hunters are prone to exaggerate on their resumes, and the stiffer the competition the braver they can become. You don’t have the time to check on every little detail, of course, but at the very least you can confirm that their work history is accurate.
Do your research to avoid costly mistakes
Depending on the state you live in or the type of business you own, there may be specific details you need to know about legal or other aspects of hiring. You don’t have to become an HR guru to be a small business owner, but you can protect your assets and your business reputation by learning the basics.