Authors: Clint Sporhase, Vice President, Small Business Banking & Dakotah Taylor, Director, Talent Acquisition
Nine out of 10 business owners say they are personally involved in the hiring process for their company, but three-quarters aren’t certain they’re making the right hiring decisions, even after conducting an interview.
Before starting a hiring search for your business, you may want to first consider alternatives. You may be able to automate or outsource the tasks associated with the role, instead of bringing on a new employee. In the end, it’s a numbers game. If automation or outsourcing offers a sufficient return on investment, it might be a wise decision.
If you decide that hiring a new employee is what’s best for your business, these practical tips can help improve the odds of finding talented and qualified individuals to fill your open role.
Ninety percent of business owners remain involved in the hiring process for a reason. Just consider the impact of an unproductive hire on a small workforce of four, for example, where losing one individual could leave the business with a 25% productivity gap.
To make matters worse, it can take up to six weeks or more to fill a vacancy from the time the existing employee gives notice and the new hire starts. Most of that time is spent advertising the position and gathering a list of prospects to interview.
For that reason, many business owners are always thinking about hiring and building relationships with potential candidates, even when they have no open vacancies.
Attending college or community job fairs is one way business owners can meet with potential hires, but don’t forget trade shows and conferences. Attending these events is usually a privilege reserved for dedicated employees, so the relationships you strike up here could easily lead to a qualified candidate in the future.
Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to hiring. That server who just delivered your iced coffee may have the perfect skill set when it comes to customer service. If you’re willing to help them apply what they know to your business, put them on the list.
The important thing is to continue to nurture these relationships over time. Engaging on LinkedIn, if appropriate, or dropping an email about an article or bit of news related to your industry are just a couple of ways that you can continue to nurture those relationships.
When it comes to finding the right candidate for your business, the process should start long before the interview. If you’ve been building relationships with qualified prospects, then you already have a place to start, increasing the odds that you’ll find the right candidate.
If you haven’t been networking or your list of prospects doesn’t pan out, then consider tapping into the network of your trusted employees. Hard-working individuals are likely to associate with other dedicated employees in your industry, and with their own reputation on the line, employees are most likely to suggest only the best candidates from their list of associates.
Beyond networking, make sure you’re reaching the right audience with any job listings that you publish. That means engaging through the platform that your potential hires are most likely to use. For business leaders or executives, that may be a posting on LinkedIn, while other candidates may be searching on Indeed or one of the other available platforms.
Next, make sure you’re providing the details that potential hires want to know. This is a good time to sell your company story and share your mission and values. A small or mid-sized business isn’t the right fit for every employee, so being open about who you are will help to attract candidates whose own goals and values align with those of your company.
Once you’ve acquired a pool of suitable candidates, you’ll want to brush up on your interviewing skills to hone in on the best hire.
Consider using behavior-based interview questions. Inquiries that start with leading phrases, such as “Tell me about a time when you…” or “How did you accomplish…” focus on the behaviors of the potential hire, and give you strong insight into soft skills, such as problem solving and how well the individual works with others.
As recruits respond to your questions, consider employing the START method to evaluate their answers. START stands for situation or task, action, result and takeaway. You’re looking for these elements in the answers candidates provide to interview questions.
Also, consider allowing peers to attend the interview process. Their engagement with the candidate can be telling on a number of fronts, including how well the recruit interacts with others.
Inviting trusted employees to the interview can also provide you with a sounding board and additional insights into the strength of each candidate.
Once you’ve narrowed in on the perfect hire, you need to make sure you’re extending the perfect offer. This is especially important in a tight job market where available candidates may receive multiple offers.
While a competitive salary is always one of the first considerations, don’t underestimate the importance of a good benefits package. Employees care about benefits that impact the quality of their lives. Assisting with healthcare expenses, retirement or sharing in the business’ success with incentives for top performers are things to consider.
New hires may also be looking for non-conventional benefits, such as remote work opportunities, flexible schedules and additional time off. Benefits like these may be the perfect draw for some candidates, helping to tip the scales in your favor, even if you aren’t able to match larger businesses on salary.
While hiring is one of the most important things on a business owner’s agenda, the time it takes to find and vet qualified candidates can be consuming. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to make hiring faster and easier for busy business owners and managers.
When considering which tools to adopt, balance the cost against the outcome. For example, if a $50 piece of software can reduce the time it takes to screen candidates from 4 hours down to 1, it’s probably a very wise investment.
In the end, it’s smart to always have your eyes open for the right talent. By maintaining relationships with quality candidates, you’ll already have top talent in mind when the time comes to hire.
About the Authors
Clint Sporhase leads FNBO’s efforts to serve small business owners. Clint has 25 years of sales, marketing and strategy experience.
Dakotah Taylor leads the Talent Acquisition team at FNBO. Dakotah has been in the talent business for 14 years and loves working with and connecting people to opportunities.